||LIBERTY! is a six-part series of one-hour documentaries for PBS. It describes how the American Revolution evolved and how a new nation was born in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, using actors, Revolutionary era scholars, and eyewitness accounts of the time.
LIBERTY! is hosted by award winning journalist and ABC news anchor, Forrest Sawyer. Edward Herrmann is the narrator. It was originally broadcast Nov. 23 - 25, 1997. Check upcoming broadcasts to see when LIBERTY! is on in your area.
EPISODE 1: "The Reluctant Revolutionaries" 1763-1774
In 1763, the capitol city of America is London, George Washington is lobbying
for a post in the British army, and no one thinks of Boston harbor when they
hear talk of tea parties. In a dozen years, the colonies are on the brink of
rebellion. What happens to bring this country so quickly near war with England?
EPISODE 2: "Blows Must Decide" 1774-1776
A total break from Great Britain remains hard for Americans to imagine, even
after shots are fired at Lexington and Concord. Words push matters "Over the
Edge" in 1776. Common Sense argues that it is the natural right of men
to govern themselves. The Declaration of Independence declares this
same idea a "self-evident" truth. For Americans, there is no looking back.
There will be war with England.
EPISODE 3: "The Times That Try Men's Souls" 1776-1777
Days after the Declaration of Independence is signed, a British force arrives
in New York harbor. Washington and his troops are driven to New Jersey. With
only a few days of enlistment left for many of his volunteers, a desperate
Washington leads his army quietly across the Delaware River on the day after
Christmas, 1776, to mount a surprise attack on a sleeping garrison in
EPISODE 4: "Oh Fatal Ambition" 1777-1778
The "united" states remain in dire need of funds and military support. Congress
dispatches Benjamin Franklin to France in hopes of creating an alliance which
will provide both. Meanwhile, a British army marches down the Hudson River
trying to cut off New England from the other colonies. The British are crushed
by Americans at Saratoga. The French enter the conflict on the American side.
EPISODE 5: "The World Turned Upside Down" 1778-1783
The British hope to exploit the issue of slavery and to enlist the support of
loyalists in the south. They fail. After a series of brutal engagements, the
British army heads for Virginia, only to be trapped by the miraculous
convergence of Washington's army and the French fleet at Yorktown. The end of
the war is at hand.
EPISODE 6: "Are We to Be a Nation? 1783-1788
Peace comes to the United States, but governing the world's newest
republic is no simple task. Congress is ineffectual and individual states act
like sovereign nations. By the time the Constitutional Convention convenes in
1787, many wonder if the country can survive. The long ratification process
helps define what sort of nation the United States is to be—a process that
continues to this day.