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How We Became America: The Untold History
American Battlefield Trust

How We Became America

The Untold History

Not everything worth knowing exists inside the cover of our history textbooks. This new short video series is here to fill in the gaps and bring new stories to life.

Watch the Videos

The Citizen Soldier

With the first shots of the American Revolution, they downed tools and ran to help in the fight for independence. This is the story of the ordinary people who helped found a nation. (Runtime 2:01)

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The Bill of Rights

The right to stand up for what we believe in is as American as apple pie and is protected under US law by the Bill of Rights: a list of ten amendments to the US Constitution that almost never existed. (Runtime 2:16)

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The United States Constitution

We all know the Constitution of the United States is awesome, but do you know its origin story? And how would you improve the U.S. Constitution? (Runtime 2:15)

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America's Two-Party System

Unlike other democracies around the world – where people can vote for political parties representing many different interests – the United States is essentially a two-party system. Is that a good or a bad thing? (Runtime 2:21)

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Common Sense: Democracy in Print

We’ve all seen our fair share of American political ads in recent years. But the very first? That could be Common Sense – an 18th century pamphlet designed to incite rebellion! (Runtime 1:57)

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The Supreme Court: Gatekeeper of the Constitution

Ever wonder why a new appointment to the Supreme Court is such big news? Of the three branches that make up the Federal Government, it’s arguably the judiciary – the courts system – that has the greatest impact upon our lives. (Runtime 1:50)

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Wartime Elections in the United States

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote: “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But he forgot one thing – Presidential elections – even in wartime! (Runtime 2:04)

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The Articles of Confederation

Did you know that there was another governing system that was replaced by the U.S. Constitution in 1789?  Learn about the Articles of Confederation – the first system of government in the newly-formed United States. (Runtime 1:50)

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Language of the American Revolution

Did you know that hipsters were a thing back in the 18th century – and were known as Macaroni? Our ancestors liked to get creative with language: especially in the world of politics. (Runtime 2:22)

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The Continental Congress - America’s First True Ruling Body

The Continental Congress was America’s first true ruling body. As the American Revolution unfolded, the colonies sent delegates to meet as a national body of legislators, known as the Continental Congress. (Runtime 1:51)

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What Makes me American?

The colonies that formed the United States were diverse. Despite their many differences, they came together to form one country. This acceptance of other cultures, ideas, and people is what makes us truly American. (Runtime 2:04)

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The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was the first-ever document to cement equality into the founding principles of a nation, though it was by no means perfect. How could all men be created equal in a country built on the profits of slavery? (Runtime 2:27)

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The Ten Crucial Days

December 25, 1776: Victory or Death. General Washington opted for a last bold strike against the British by attacking the garrison at Trenton, NJ. The result convinced many Americans that the Declaration of Independence was worth defending. (Runtime 2:19)

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George Washington, The First President

Did you know that George Washington did not want to be America's first president? While in office, he set many precedents that remain staples of the office today. What if he had not accepted the position? (Runtime 2:08)

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All Men Created Equal: How the Founding Fathers Viewed Slavery

While about 5,000 African American soldiers fought for the ideals of freedom and democracy during the Revolutionary War, slavery was common in every U.S. state. What about the people in charge? What did the Founding Fathers think about slavery? (Runtime 2:02)

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Topics & Related Resources

Want to dive deeper into what makes the United States of America the country we know today? Check out the resources below to watch videos, read primary sources, and explore topics ranging from the Continental Congress to the Supreme Court to the Declaration of Independence and more. 

"10 Crucial Days" Video Still
"Language of the Revolution" Still
"Articles of Confederation" Video Still
"Common Sense" Video Still

About This Project

This video series was created by the American Battlefield Trust in partnership with the Driving Force Institute for Public Engagement (DFI).

How We Became America: The Untold History is a 15-part project included within DFI’s larger Untold initiative, which is produced and distributed by Makematic and the University of Southern California’s Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education (EDGE). How We Became America is filled with eye-catching animation based on iconic period images, plus a slightly irreverent attitude designed to show that history is dynamic.”

Our goal with the videos is to complement existing civics-related articlesprimary sources, and videos. Video is a compelling way for people to learn and made even more important in the age of distance learning. It’s an extremely portable format that works at home, in a classroom, on TV, and on a mobile phone.

Watch the trailer for the entire series

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