A still from the video Was the American Revolution a Civil War?
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.

The Latest Videos

Our newest group of videos in the How We Became America series relate to people, places and things from the American Revolution. Made for students and teachers, but easy-to-consume by all, this series is designed to fill in the gaps and bring new stories to life.

Watch the latest videos below and find a full list of videos in this series here.

Princeton: Washington's Key Victory

After winning the Battle of Trenton, George Washington was determined to keep the initiative. He marched his troops through the night towards Princeton, where he faced the British army once again, and won one of the key victories of the Revolutionary War. (Runtime 2:28)

Was the American Revolution a Civil War?

As anti-taxation protests turned to war in the Thirteen Colonies, even moderates ended up being forced to take sides. So was the American Revolution a civil war as well as an independence movement? (Runtime 2:58)

The Board of War: Running the Revolution

Keeping an army running smoothly during the Revolutionary War a colossal task. So Congress founded the Board of War to do just that and it played a vital role in defeating the British. (Runtime 2:19)

Revolutionary Diplomats: Franklin and Adams

During the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were both sent by Congress to Paris – with the vital diplomatic mission of securing French aid in the war. The two Founding Fathers lived together but they were far from ideal housemates. (Runtime 2:21)

Was the Revolution a World War?

The Revolutionary War was not just a battle of the Georges - Washington vs King George III, it was also a war between nations. When France, Spain and the Dutch Republic joined the war, as allies of the new United States, the conflict became global. (Runtime 2:22)

Western Department: Frontier of the Revolution

In the American Revolutionary War, the Western Department was tasked with trying to defend the huge Western frontier of the Colonies. Short of men and supplies, they faced a formidable enemy – the Native American nations of the Ohio territory and beyond. (Runtime 2:17)

American Privateers: Pirates or Protectors?

At the time of the Revolutionary War, naval warfare wasn’t just the preserve of governments. Private businesses could also send armed vessels out to sea. It was a risky business, but American privateers inflicted millions of dollars of loss on British supply lines – making some very rich in the process. (Runtime 2:27)

Newtown: A Crushing Defeat for the Iroquois

The Revolutionary War was never a simple story of Patriot vs Redcoat. Older nations with far deeper American roots were also caught up in the war. To secure their future, the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy had to choose a side – and in many ways, their long term fate was decided on the day of the Battle of Newtown. (Runtime 2:41)

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

About This Project

The first 15 videos in the How We Became America: The Untold History series was originated by the American Battlefield Trust in partnership with the Driving Force Institute for Public Engagement (DFI). We continue creating videos as a part of that partnership and add material that we alone produce. The series of 10 American Revolution videos – released to coincide with the beginning the 2021-2022 school year – is an example of the latter. Now in early 2022, we are pleased to continue our partnership with DFI with a series of Civil War content made possible with the generous financial support of the HTR Foundation. In late 2022 and 2023, with interpretation grant funding from the federal Americans for Battlefields Protection Program we will add more videos on topics associated with the American Revolution.

How We Became America: The Untold History is associated with 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.”

Made for students and teachers, but easy-to-consume by all, the series is designed to fill in the gaps and bring new stories to life. 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.