Watch America's Founding Fathers

  • 2017
  • 1 Season

America's Founding Fathers is a comprehensive educational series offering viewers a deep dive into the lives and legacies of the individuals who founded the United States of America. Produced by the History Channel, this show delves into the long road to independence, exploring the core values and ideals that motivated these men to fight for freedom and create a new nation.

The show features interviews with experts and historians, who provide insight and perspective on the political, social, and economic factors that contributed to the American Revolution. The show spans from the early stirrings of rebellion in colonial America to the drafting and adoption of the Constitution, highlighting the key events and figures along the way.

Viewers are introduced to well-known patriots such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, as well as lesser-known figures who played crucial roles in the Revolution. The show offers a glimpse into the personal lives and motivations of these men, exploring their upbringing, education, and professional careers prior to their involvement in the Revolution.

Through archival footage, reenactments, and interviews with contemporary scholars, America's Founding Fathers offers a comprehensive overview of the historical context surrounding the Revolution, the challenges that the Founding Fathers faced, and their lasting contributions to the nation they helped to establish.

One of the standout aspects of the series is its exploration of the often-tense relationships between the Founding Fathers. While they shared a common goal of creating a new nation, these men had differing political philosophies and agendas. The show highlights the debates and disagreements that took place during the creation of the Constitution, and offers insight into how compromises were reached amidst such diverse viewpoints.

Another key aspect of America's Founding Fathers is its exploration of the lasting legacy of these men. Through interviews with contemporary political scientists, the show examines how their ideals and values continue to shape American society and politics today.

Overall, America's Founding Fathers is an engaging and informative series that offers viewers a comprehensive look into the men who laid the groundwork for the United States of America. Through its combination of expert analysis, historical context, and personal stories, the show is able to provide an in-depth understanding of this pivotal moment in American history. Whether you are a history buff or simply curious about the origins of the United States, America's Founding Fathers is a must-watch series that offers valuable insights and perspective on this important period in our nation's history.

America's Founding Fathers is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (36 episodes). The series first aired on March 30, 2017.

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Alexis de Tocqueville's America
36. Alexis de Tocqueville's America
March 31, 2017
In the first part of this last episode, learn the fates of each of the Founding Fathers discussed in this course. Then, close with a look at Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, which suggests the new nation's focus on self-interest instead of virtue (as well as a lack of art and culture).
James Madison's War
35. James Madison's War
October 15, 2020
The "age of the Founders" ends with the War of 1812 and James Madison at the helm of government. You'll learn why the United States was disastrously unprepared for war, and you'll get a closer look at the state of the nation as it was bequeathed to Madison's successor, James Monroe.
John Marshall's Court
34. John Marshall's Court
March 31, 2017
Explore the court of Chief Justice John Marshall. In major court cases like Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland, Marshall would devise a national judicial sovereignty to match the constitutional and economic sovereignty envisioned by Madison and Hamilton, and to save the United States from Jacobin Republicanism.
Aaron Burr's Treason
33. Aaron Burr's Treason
March 31, 2017
Aaron Burr's duel with Alexander Hamilton, resulting in the latter's death, is one of the most infamous chapters in the history of the Founding Fathers. But, as you'll learn, what's equally important is what happened next: that the Constitution protected even the liberties of someone like him, who meant it harm.
Thomas Jefferson's Frustration
32. Thomas Jefferson's Frustration
March 31, 2017
Focus on some of the many conflicts between Thomas Jefferson's political philosophies and the reality of American life. Chief among these was his belief that an economy based on the virtuous independent farmer had no need of imports or exports, which led to the controversial Embargo Act of 1807.
James McHenry's Army
31. James McHenry's Army
March 31, 2017
Meet another often-overlooked Founder, Secretary of War James McHenry, who was responsible for putting the nation's army into play for the first time. Despite political backstabbing, and against the backdrop of the Quasi-War with France, McHenry brought about military changes still with us today.
Timothy Dwight's Religion
30. Timothy Dwight's Religion
March 31, 2017
Timothy Dwight, a president at Yale University, played a pivotal role in cementing the early nation's ties with the Christian faith. Come to see how Christianity, when defined and defended as a virtue, was seen by Dwight and others as a necessary component of republican government.
Hector Saint John de Crèvecoeur's Americans
29. Hector Saint John de Crèvecoeur's Americans
March 31, 2017
Crevecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer presented Americans at the end of the 18th century as a people unlike any other nation. From this starting point, explore the demographics of the early United States, witness the early stirrings of abolitionist and women's suffrage movements, and probe America's cultural fear of strangers.
John Adams's Liberty
28. John Adams's Liberty
March 31, 2017
According to Professor Guelzo, if George Washington was the heart of republic, John Adams was its brain. Follow the Founder as he becomes the first vice president, then the second president of the nation, where he suffers catastrophic blunders that sap him of any political advantages he once had.
John Jay's Treaty
27. John Jay's Treaty
March 31, 2017
With a new nation came new international crises. In this episode, go inside the 28 articles of John Jay's eponymous treaty with Great Britain, which addressed unfinished business from the Treaty of Paris, and the subsequent uproar that gave a boost to polarization between America's political parties.
Benjamin Banneker's Survey
26. Benjamin Banneker's Survey
March 31, 2017
How was the location of the nation's new capital decided upon? How were the streets of Washington organized? What happened when Washington asked Congress for money? It all started, as you'll learn, with Benjamin Banneker's surveying mission of the iconic site on the eastern branch of the Anacostia River.
Willian Findley's Whiskey
25. Willian Findley's Whiskey
March 31, 2017
Whiskey, on the frontier of the early Republic, was a major business. So when the national government proposed an excise tax on whiskey, it led to the Whiskey Rebellion. Go back to the summer of 1794 and meet William Findley, a self-styled republican who saw Republican societies as vehicles for political strategy.
Thomas Jefferson's Party
24. Thomas Jefferson's Party
March 31, 2017
In the past, Thomas Jefferson denounced political parties. Now, after the ratification of the Constitution, he began to form the nation's first political party. Discover how he did this by assembling allies, appealing to selected individuals to run for Congress, and playing for control of the media.
Alexander Hamilton's Reports
23. Alexander Hamilton's Reports
October 15, 2020
As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton had the responsibility of handling the new nation's foreign, state, and domestic debts. In this episode, learn how Hamilton saw debt not as a problem but an asset, and discover how he argued for the establishment of a national bank.
George Washington's Inaugural
22. George Washington's Inaugural
March 31, 2017
First, examine hurdles to electing George Washington as the first president of the United States. Then, follow the story of how the Constitution finally got its Bill of Rights, and how this task was undertaken by the one man who most vehemently opposed such a bill: James Madison.
Patrick Henry's Convention
21. Patrick Henry's Convention
October 15, 2020
The fate of the new constitution depended on the state ratifying conventions. And because Virginia's consent was necessary to make the overall ratification process work, neutralizing Patrick Henry was the Federalists' most important task. Go inside the battleground of the ratifying convention at Richmond on June 2, 1788.
Alexander Hamilton's Papers
20. Alexander Hamilton's Papers
March 31, 2017
Chief Justice John Marshall would call the Federalist Papers the "complete commentary on our constitution." Here, Professor Guelzo explains the daring act of aggression these landmark political writings were, and outlines the six themes Hamilton (under the pseudonym "Publius") believed would demonstrate the indispensability of the new constitution.
John Dunlap and David Claypoole's Broadside
19. John Dunlap and David Claypoole's Broadside
March 31, 2017
One day after the Constitutional Convention ended, the document was printed in 500 copies by John Dunlap and David Claypoole and shared with the general public. What happened next? How did George Washington use a cover letter to mitigate shock? How did the Founders brace themselves for the inevitable state conventions?
David Brearley's Postponed Parts
18. David Brearley's Postponed Parts
March 31, 2017
The Committee on Postponed Parts, headed by David Brearley, was the Convention's most effective committee. Its business, as you'll learn, was to reconcile demands about the shape of the new national president. You'll also learn about the Committee on Style, whose sole task was to wordsmith the Convention's agreements into a single document.
Rufus King's Slaves
17. Rufus King's Slaves
March 31, 2017
It was Rufus King who, at the debates, questioned the admission of slaves into the rule of representation. First, explore the dissonance between liberty and slavery in the new United States. Then, come to see how Rufus King predicted the angry tiger slavery would become in America.
John Rutledge's Committee
16. John Rutledge's Committee
March 31, 2017
John Rutledge's Committee of Detail answered the call to help answer unresolved questions about the role of the national executive. Here, learn how "Dictator John" helped develop a working document that included a number of features now seen as the cornerstone of American constitutionalism.
James Wilson's Executive
15. James Wilson's Executive
March 31, 2017
Turn now to the next great issue facing the Convention: the shape of the new national executive. After pondering some of the concerns and fears the delegates had about executive power, you'll focus on James Wilson's argument for the need of an executive chosen not by Congress but by national election.
Elbridge Gerry's Committee
14. Elbridge Gerry's Committee
March 31, 2017
Discover how the report by the Convention's Grand Committee, chaired by Elbridge Gerry, ended the first great battle over the US Constitution. As you'll find out, it settled for good what the American Congress would look like, but it also raised an issue that would soon dominate the debates: slavery.
Roger Sherman's Compromise
13. Roger Sherman's Compromise
March 31, 2017
Turn to a moment of great exhaustion at the Constitutional Convention: a deadlock between the New Jersey and Virginia plans for a national government. Roger Sherman's compromise of two branches of government (one equal, one proportional) would play an important role in moving the debate forward.
William Paterson's Dissent
12. William Paterson's Dissent
March 31, 2017
One speech by William Paterson, a member of the New Jersey delegation, halted the Randolph Plan from sailing smoothly to adoption. What were Paterson's arguments? Why did he support a simple amendment to the Articles of Confederation instead of a rewrite? What did his alternative plan look like?
Edmund Randolph's Plan
11. Edmund Randolph's Plan
March 31, 2017
Go inside the start of the Constitutional Convention, where you'll learn how and why the Founders assembled to craft a new, improved system of government. Central to this was the plan set out by Edmund Randolph, which aimed at stopping a jealous Congress or greedy state legislatures from destroying it.
James Madison's Vices
10. James Madison's Vices
March 31, 2017
In a private study, James Madison detailed what he called "the vices of the political system of the United States." Here, explore these vices, including state failure to comply with constitutional requisitions and the provincial nature of state legislatures. Also, examine his most important suggestions for a new frame of government.
Patrick Henry's Religion
9. Patrick Henry's Religion
March 31, 2017
Come to see Patrick Henry in a new light: as the most self-contradictory (and most often defeated) Founder. Topics include the influence on Henry of the Reverend Samuel Davies, how the Awakeners shaped his brilliant oratorical skills, the public funding of Christianity, and his unremarkable accomplishments as governor of Virginia.
James Madison's Conference
8. James Madison's Conference
March 31, 2017
How did James Madison become the prime mover of the United States Constitution? The key, it turns out, is a 1786 conference he organized between several states. Originally intended to discuss commercial regulations, the assembly would transform into a deliberation over how to put the Confederation out of business.
Alexander Hamilton's Republic
7. Alexander Hamilton's Republic
March 31, 2017
Professor Guelzo takes you inside Alexander Hamilton's views about the American Republic: the fictions of hierarchy and aristocracy; the voluntary compact between rulers and ruled; the division of power into small packets; and his suspicions of the behavior of the Confederation Congress.
Daniel Shays's Misbehavior
6. Daniel Shays's Misbehavior
March 31, 2017
Shays's Rebellion would spark unease not just about tax increases and their impact on landowners but on the entire Confederation. As you follow this dramatic insurgency and its fascinating leader, you'll learn how Shays's Rebellion prompted many to consider a strong government as essential to liberty and property.
Thomas Jefferson's Books
5. Thomas Jefferson's Books
March 31, 2017
Explore how books by Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke and Adam Smith influenced Thomas Jefferson's political philosophy. Also, consider Jefferson's fierce critiques of religion and commerce, and the ways he nevertheless betrayed (as a large-scale slave owner) the Enlightenment principles he held so dear.
Benjamin Franklin's Leather Apron
4. Benjamin Franklin's Leather Apron
March 31, 2017
No one in the 1780s defined the idea of an "American" as much as Benjamin Franklin. Here, explore the many roles Franklin played in the formative years of the republic: as independent printer, public "gentleman," nobleman of nature, and tradesman cynical of the wealthy and powerful.
Robert Morris's Money
3. Robert Morris's Money
March 31, 2017
Money issues abounded in the new United States. Why was the abundance of land (and the lack of hard coin) such a problem? What compelled states to print so much of their own unsecure paper money? How did Robert Morris attempt to restore the links between commerce, agriculture, and government finances?
Thomas Mifflin's Congress
2. Thomas Mifflin's Congress
March 30, 2017
Before the ratification of the Constitution, there were presidents not of the United States but of the Congress created by the Articles of Confederation. As you'll discover, the failures of one president, Thomas Mifflin, offer a window into the potent problems facing the United States of America in 1783.
George Washington's Doubts
1. George Washington's Doubts
March 30, 2017
Could the American experiment succeed? George Washington, one of the most iconic Founders, had strong doubts. After explaining the importance of getting a well-rounded understanding of the Founders, Professor Guelzo explores Washington's fears about post-Revolutionary America and his concerns about how people could administer their own affairs. #History
Where to Watch America's Founding Fathers
America's Founding Fathers is available for streaming on the Amazon Addon website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch America's Founding Fathers on demand at Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime, Amazon and Kanopy.
  • Premiere Date
    March 30, 2017