Watch Liberty's Kids, The Complete Series

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In this animated series, a group of kids living in colonial America become involved the events surrounding the founding of the United States in the late eighteenth century. The aim of the series is to educate young viewers about American history via young characters with whom the viewers can identify. The series aired on PBS in 2002 and 2003.

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1 Season, 40 Episodes
September 2, 2002
Animation & Cartoon, Kids & Family, History
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Liberty's Kids, The Complete Series Full Episode Guide

  • America's leaders meet at a convention in Philadelphia and decide to write a radical new Constitution. Ben Franklin, in his final moment on the world stage, helps forge the "Great Compromise" on legislative representation. James Madison writes much of the Constitution, the lawful embodiment of the promise of the Revolution (9/17/87). It includes the "odious compromise" on slavery that maintains the practice's legality in the United States. George Washington is inaugurated as the first President (4/30/1789). Moses resolves to open a school for free black children. Sarah's father joins the family from Ohio. Everyone looks forward to their new lives in the United States of America.

  • With the signing of the Treaty of Paris, loyalists are forced to leave their homes. Many slaves move to Canada to avoid being returned to slavery. American soldiers return home, many of them to abject poverty. Shays' Rebellion and other events make it clear that the United States requires a strong central government if it is to survive as a nation. Sarah goes to New York to get the story of the fate of the loyalists from Mrs. Radcliffe. Moses helps Cato travel to New York, where Cato leaves for Nova Scotia with Mrs. Radcliffe. James reports on Shays and the discontent of the former soldiers -- and resolves to own and run his own newspaper. Lafayette invites Henri to live with him in France. Ben, accompanied by Sarah's mother, returns from Europe to a triumphant reception in Philadelphia.

  • Virginia slave James Armistead joins Lafayette and spies on Benedict Arnold (3/81). Then, working as a double agent, Armistead provides false information to British General Cornwallis (7/81). With news that de Grasse's French fleet is headed for Chesapeake Bay, Washington abandons plans to attack New York (8/14/81). His Excellency resolves to move his troops to Virginia to join with the French fleet and trap Cornwallis in Yorktown. Sarah and Henri go from camp to camp with Lafayette as he jousts with Cornwallis, then worry over the fate of James Armistead. James follows the maneuvering of Washington and Henry Knox. Moses learns from Sarah that his brother Cato is fighting with Cornwallis's forces.

  • Deborah Samson masquerades as a man so she can enlist in the Continental army (5/20/1782-10/23/83). Washington and French general Rochambeau disagree on whether to try to retake New York or move south against Cornwallis (1/81-5/81). Sarah meets the courageous Deborah Samson. James and Henri, accompanying Washington, meet Rochambeau.

  • General Nathanael Greene replaces Horatio Gates as the American commander in the south (10/16/80). Trying to win the hearts and minds of the Southern populace, he leads Cornwallis on a six-month chase that exhausts the British troops and leads Cornwallis to move into Virginia (12/80-3/81). Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson is forced by Benedict Arnold to abandon the Governor's residence in Richmond. James and Henri follow the ups and downs of Greene's efforts. Sarah discusses slavery with Thomas Jefferson.

  • James, Sarah and Henri are there when Arnold tries to hand West Point over to British (9/21/80). Arnold's plot is uncovered when his accomplice Major Andre is captured (9/23/80). Sarah, especially, is upset by her former friend's treason.

  • Sarah and Henri join the Adams family in Massachusetts just as John and his son John Quincy return from France and are reunited with Abigail (8/2/79). John is asked to write the Massachusetts Constitution (8/9/79). James travels to New York where he meets Joseph Brant, a chief of the Iroquois Confederacy, and learns firsthand about atrocities committed by Iroquois and American alike (8/27/79).

  • Sarah returns to Philadelphia and is reunited with Moses, James and Henri. Henri gets into a scrape with a Tory boy when the Tory makes disparaging comments about Ben Franklin. Sarah, James and Moses tell the boys about Franklin's discoveries, inventions, writings and other accomplishments that have made him one of the world's greatest men.

  • Spanish Governor Bernardo de Galvez aides the American cause by capturing Baton Rouge (9/21/79), Natchez (10/5/79) and Mobile (3/13/80) from the British. James and Henri sail down the Mississippi, seeking Galvez. In England, Sarah witnesses British opposition to the war and tells her mother she intends to return to Philadelphia.

  • In a long, desperate battle, John Paul Jones and his wildly outgunned Bonhomme Richard defeat the British Serapis off the coast of England (9/23/79). Sailing to England, Sarah is shipwrecked and saved by Jones. Later, she comes to the realization that she is now, in her heart, an American.

  • In the Ohio territory, Shawnee Chief Cornstalk and his people are caught between the Americans and the British, with tragic results (11/77). In Philadelphia, inflation makes life difficult for working people and leads to the "Fort Wilson" riot (10/79). Sarah is reunited with her father in Ohio. After witnessing the cruel treatment of Cornstalk, she has had enough of the violence in the New World and decides to return to England. James takes on an angry mob as he reports on the repercussions of inflation.

  • The States struggle to unite politically before the arrival of the French Ambassador (5/9/78-7/8/78). Charles Henry Lee nearly costs the Americans dearly at the Battle of Monmouth when, in direct violation of his orders, he orders a retreat (6/28/78). George Washington arrives just in time to rally his troops to victory. Henri befriends Wappinger Abraham Nimham, who tutors the boy on the finer points of capturing turkeys for their feathers. Sarah and Moses visit Congress in York, Pennsylvania, and witness the debate over the Articles of Confederation.

  • News of the American victory at Saratoga helps pave the way for Ben Franklin to negotiate a treaty with France. The treaty obligates the French to help fight the Revolutionary War (2/6/78). James learns about religious freedom from Moses Michael Hayes, while Sarah and Henri spend time with British troops in occupied Philadelphia.

  • James, Sarah and Henri are there as George Washington and his Continental Army endure a horrible winter at Valley Forge. Baron von Stueben drafts a training program for the army and helps Washington's troops become a professional fighting unit. Lafayette proves his loyalty to Washington as The Conway Cabal, a plot to oust George Washington as commander of the army, fails.

  • General Horatio Gates defeats Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga (10/17/77). Benedict Arnold is the true hero of the battle but is angered when he fails to receive proper recognition. James witnesses the victory at Saratoga while lashed to a Hessian soldier. Sarah is present for Benedict Arnold's heroics.

  • The 19-year-old Marquis de Lafayette arrives after an eventful journey from France and offers his services to Congress (7/27/77). After at first being turned down he is sent to George Washington, who virtually adopts him as his son. Lafayette distinguishes himself at the Battle of Brandywine Creek (9/11/77). News of his great courage helps the American cause in France. Henri meets Lafayette, who becomes his idol. The Kids follow the Marquis from Congress to the field at Brandywine.

  • Ben Franklin sets up residence in Paris and begins his uphill battle to enlist France in the American cause (12/28/76). Franklin's hopes are bolstered when news of the victories at Trenton and Princeton reach France (3/77). In America, civilians and soldiers alike fight the scourge of smallpox (1/77). While visiting Abigail Adams in Boston, Sarah finds herself in the middle of a smallpox epidemic and, after being inoculated, contracts a bad case of the disease. James accompanies Alexander Hamilton to the army camp at Morristown, where Hamilton joins Washington's staff.

  • The low point of the war for the Americans. Washington's adjutant, General Joseph Reed, questions the Commander's ability to lead. General Lee ignores Washington's orders and is eventually captured by the British (12/13/76). The Continental Congress, anticipating attack, flees Philadelphia for Baltimore (12/12/76). Washington knows he must win a battle or the revolution will fail from lack of public support. Meanwhile, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Franklin's thoughts and hopes are with the Americans. The Kids are reunited with Thomas Paine and are witnesses as Paine writes that "These are the times that try men's souls."

  • Ben Franklin, appointed to a commission to negotiate a treaty with the French, sails for France aboard the Reprisal (10/24/76). Fort Washington surrenders, a catastrophe for the American cause (11/12/76). To this date, General Washington has lost every battle. Sarah travels to Fort Tryon and meets the courageous "Captain Molly," who takes up her husband's cannon when he falls. James sees his confidence in George Washington shaken, then hears the General vow determinedly to never again make a decision that goes against his own instincts. Henri agrees to let Moses give him reading lessons.

  • A failed peace conference between the British Admiral Howe and John Adams and Ben Franklin convinces the American leaders that the British have no interest in making peace (9/11/76). Nathan Hale is caught spying and hanged (9/22/76). The Kids, at first unimpressed with Nathan Hale, get deeply inspired by the man's words and deeds.

  • At the Battle of Long Island, Washington fights the British in open field battles -- with catastrophic results (8/27-29/76). His troops in disarray and his spirit nearly broken, the Commander vows to avoid open field battles and to instead borrow war tactics from the Indians. After the battle of Kip's Bay, the British take New York City (9/15/76). In New York City, Sarah stays with her mother's friend Mrs. Radcliffe and reports on the loyalist point of view. James escapes across the East River to Manhahattan Island with the Continental army under cover of night.

  • As Hessians arrive off the coast of Staten Island (7/4/76), John Adams finally convinces Congress that independence is the only answer to the colonies' problems. They ask Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft of a "Declaration of Independence." Shortly after the Declaration is signed on July 4th, a massive British fleet enters New York harbor. Ben Franklin realizes that "we must hang together or we will surely hang separately." James learns about the tremendous power of words.

  • Thomas Paine publishes his famous pamphlet. It is an instant best seller, read by everyone from General George Washington to the lowest private in the army. James, Sarah and Henri meet Thomas Paine and learn of his belief that the common man can rule himself. The Kids also hear Paine's stand favoring full independence from England.

  • George Washington arrives in Boston to take command of the army (7/3/75). He has no idea if the New Englanders will follow a Virginian, but he is a born leader and quickly takes charge of the defense of Boston. After a yearlong siege, the British withdraw to New York (3/4/76). Sarah, James and Henri travel to Massachusetts with Washington and see him pull together the diverse group of men into a Continental army. James accompanies Henry Knox to Fort Ticonderoga to bring back the cannons which finally help to drive the British from Boston. James and Sarah proudly watch the raising of the new Grand Union flag.

  • Ben Franklin is named the first Postmaster General of the colonies (7/26/75). When Patriot mail falls into the hands of the British, James and Sarah agree to carry important letters safely to New York. On the way they evade British troops and get help from the New Jersey Committee of Correspondence.

  • The first major battle of the war. The Americans, with little ammunition, "don't shoot until they see the whites of their eyes." The battle results in a victory for the Crown, but at such a high cost to the British that the American cause gains needed momentum. Sarah searches for a British officer who may know her father's whereabouts. James, with Dr. Joseph Warren at Bunker Hill, witnesses the battle and learns firsthand the high price of freedom. Henri makes mischief as a messenger between the battle lines.

  • The colonies decide they need a national army. John Adams nominates George Washington -- over other candidates who include the President of Congress, John Hancock -- to lead the new force. Desperate for information on what Congress is doing behind the closed doors of the statehouse, James unknowingly befriends a British spy. Sarah and Moses meet George Washington and together use "Yankee ingenuity" to fix Washington's carriage.

  • Trouble erupts in the New Hampshire Grants when settlers are forced from their homes (1770-1775). Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold reluctantly join forces to capture Fort Ticonderoga in New York -- thereby expanding the war beyond New England (5/10/75). James heads to the Grants to cover the story of the settlers' struggle; Sarah goes hoping to find a place in the Green Mountains for her family to settle; Henri goes hoping to find maple syrup. Sarah and James witness the capture of the fort and Sarah befriends Benedict Arnold.

  • The Revolutionary War begins with the battles of Lexington and Concord. Minutemen -- citizens taking up arms -- fight the powerful, experienced Red Coats. James, reporting on the minutemen, and Sarah, with the British army, witness the "shot heard round the world" at Concord Bridge.

  • Paul Revere and William Dawes spread the word that the "British are coming!" on the eve of "the shot heard 'round the world." Sarah and James travel to Boston to deliver a message to Patriot leader Dr. Joseph Warren and end up riding with the famous messengers.

  • Patrick Henry, the greatest speaker of his day, stirs the South to the cause of freedom with his famous "Give me Liberty or give me death!" speech (3/23/75). Lord Dunmore's Proclamation offers liberty to any slave who will fight for the British (11/14/75). James, Sarah, Henri and Moses travel to Virginia, where they witness Henry's speech. Moses is shocked to see his brother Cato on the slave auction block and risks his own freedom to rescue him. Cato sees hope for himself in Dunmore's Proclamation.

  • In response to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passes the "Intolerable Acts," including "quartering." Boston becomes an occupied city (3/74-6/74). In England, Ben Franklin faces charges of treason (1/74). Moses, James, Sarah and Henri hide at poet Phillis Wheatley's house in Boston, where some of His Majesty's soldiers are being quartered.

  • Colonists in Boston rebel against "taxation without representation" by throwing a fortune in tea into the harbor (12/16/73). Moses, James and Henri travel to Boston in search of Sarah, who has arrived from England on a tea-laden ship.

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