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Freedom's Charter is a 20-episode series that takes you behind the scenes of the creation of the U.S. Constitution. Featuring interactive quizzes and discussions boards, this series is a must-see for anyone who wants to learn more about the founding of America.
PART I - We the People
1) What is a Constitution?
Unlike any other, the U.S. Constitution is a timeless document, declared to be the Supreme Law of the land, founded in the will of the people by the people, granting limited powers to government, reserving all other rights for the people.
2) Who Are 'We the People'?
Rejecting the tyranny of monarchy, our U.S. Constitution's opening line begins a new chapter in world history -- a free, sovereign people establishes a government for themselves.
3) Confederation of Slackers
After declaring independence from the throne, 13 American states craft a league of voluntary cooperation in 1781, but their Articles of Confederation fail from the start. Could Democracy be as tyrannical as monarchy?
4) A River Runs Through It
Two men, sitting by a winter hearth along the Potomac in 1786, discuss state river rights that serve as the spring for a new government, and a debate over commerce that flows to this day. How did such a small problem give birth to a new energetic government that changes the world?
5) Under a Cloak of Secrecy
There would have been no Constitution if the Framers' debates had been public. Today, "we the people" rebel against the very idea of secrecy, but it was essential to success.
6) Rules for Radical Republicans
America’s Founding Fathers adopt a handful of extraordinary rules that preempt political posturing in order to create what historians have called "The Miracle at Philadelphia."
7) Hamilton Hearts Monarchy
Alexander Hamilton, a highly-decorated Revolutionary War Hero, sees the dangers of democracy so clearly that he advocates for an “elected monarchy” during the Federal Convention of 1787. His proposal stuns the delegates.
8) Get Wilson!
No one knew the dangers of mob rule better than James Wilson, who had seen it first hand through the barrel of a gun. But when it comes time to decide how to choose a president, Wilson stands virtually alone advocating direct election by the people.
9) President of These 11 States
With one great roll of the dice, the Founding Fathers put the entire future of the republic at risk. Their dangerous ratification scheme narrowly averts disaster.
PART II - Constitutional Chaos
10) Electoral College Chaos, 1788-1792
Constitutional flaws in the presidential election process force Alexander Hamilton to work behind-the-scenes to ensure Federalists prevail with George Washington and John Adams at the helm, narrowly avoiding a divided executive branch.
11) Electoral College Chaos, 1796-1800
Hamilton's backroom maneuvers save the first two presidential elections from chaos, but when Washington refuses to seek a third term, mayhem erupts. The election of 1800 nearly fails to find a president, and proves that the Constitution needs amending.
12) Genesis Becomes Undoing: Inter-state Commerce
Encouraging inter-state commerce is fundamental to the new government, but presents complications caused by currencies, transportation, and taxation. Could the seed of the U.S. Constitution germinate into its greatest threat?
13) Genesis Becomes Undoing: The Commerce Clause
The Framers simply intended to make commerce 'regular' among the states: smoother, fair, less hassle. But the rapid expansion of the American economy from state-to-state presented a new kind of growth and prosperity with its own set of constitutional challenges for the Supreme Court.
14) Madison Was Wrong?
To get the Constitution ratified, James Madison had to persuade anti-federalists that the sovereign states wouldn't be overwhelmed by an all-powerful, consolidated national government. In fact, the Constitution contains multiple safeguards against federal usurpation. At least, that's what Madison thought.
15) Madison Was Really Wrong
Madison believed the states would rise up to thwart any attempt by the federal government to strip the states of their sovereignty. But the threat came from an unanticipated direction, and it turned the U.S. Constitution turned upside down.
16) The Oldest-Newest Amendment
Madison's long-delayed “2nd Amendment” regarding Congressional pay finally reaches ratification two centuries later, as the 27th Amendment. What took so long?
17) The Oldest-Newest Amendment, Ratified by 38 States
A Texas college student writes a mediocre paper that rekindles a flame lit in 1789. He embarks on a one-man mission to amend the constitution state-by-state, and succeeds.
PART III - The Final Arbiter
18) Who's in Charge Here?
Is your state government sovereign, or does the federal government trump the states? Follow the debate that guaranteed a unique arrangement called "concurrent jurisdiction."
19) Supreme Final Arbiter
Why should five Supreme Court Justices hold all the power to interpret the Constitution? They don't. The Framers built 10 layers of protection into the Constitution to ensure our sovereignty. Ultimately, "We, the People" supersede any and all Supreme Court decisions because we hold the power to amend the U.S. Constitution. 38 states is all it takes.
20) Freedom’s Charter: ‘We the People’
Despite subtle erosions of Liberty, we still hold the keys to our constitutional republic. Not only do we retain the right to alter or abolish any form of government, we reserve all remedies to reject any form of tyranny or suppress any power that proves destructive to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.