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THEMATIC: War and Politics:

Politics  |   The Cold War  |   War/Military

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided
He was a dirt farmer's son; she was the daughter of wealthy Southern aristocrats. He was the Great Emancipator; she was the daughter of slave-owners. Together they ascended to the pinnacle of power at the most difficult time in the nation's history.
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Elected president only to see the nation fracture in two, Lincoln led a confused and frightened people through the most terrible war in their history. At the same time, his own household mirrored the fissures that split the nation: the great emancipator was married to the daughter of a slave owner from Kentucky. Mary Todd Lincoln was an aristocratic southerner who met Lincoln when he was still a backwoods politician lacking in experience and sophistication. Although she remained fiercely loyal to her husband and the Union cause, two of her brothers fought for the South. Their marriage was long and turbulent, and knew many trials, including the loss of two children. This program weaves together the lives of the two Lincolns, drawing us into their long-vanished world.

Adam Clayton Powell (no website available)
One of the most charismatic black leaders of the 20th century.
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Affluent, handsome, light-skinned and blond, he could pass for white. But his message about "economics and jobs" would make him one of the most charismatic black leaders in the 20th century. A U.S. Representative for 25 years, he pushed through social legislation, but his relish for money and fast living eventually led him to political ruin.
Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton
This two-hour AMERICAN EXPERIENCE tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the underappreciated genius who laid the groundwork for the nation's modern economy - including the banking system, Wall Street, and an "opportunity society" in which talent and hard
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One of the most controversial men of his age, Alexander Hamilton was a gifted statesman brought down by the fatal flaws of stubbornness, extreme candor, and arrogance. His life and career were marked by a stunning rise to power, scandal, and tragedy. He had one of the most notorious love affairs of any public figure in American history, and met his death in a startling act of political violence -- the famous duel with Aaron Burr. But his contributions as a statesman survive. As first Secretary of the Treasury during the tumultuous early years of the republic, Hamilton led the transformation of the young country into a commercial and industrial powerhouse. He was the one founder who had a vision, not of what America was, but of what it could become. This two-hour AMERICAN EXPERIENCE tells the story of the underappreciated genius who laid the groundwork for the nation's modern economy - including the banking system, Wall Street, and an "opportunity society" in which talent and hard work, not birth, determined success.

Chicago 1968 (no website available)
A clash of political visions in the back rooms, on the convention floor and on the streets of Chicago.
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While America was reeling from the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and public outcry against the Vietnam War, the Democrats held their convention in Chicago. Yippie and anti-war protesters were determined to be heard; Mayor Daley was just as determined to stop them. A clash of political visions would be fought in the back rooms, on the convention floor and in the streets of Chicago.
Chicago: City of the Century

Chicago: City of the Century
Chicago rose from a swampy frontier town to become the quintessential American city of the nineteenth century.
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City of the Century chronicles Chicago's dramatic transformation from a swampy frontier town of fur traders and Native Americans to a massive metropolis that was the quintessential American city of the nineteenth century.The film tells how innovation, ingenuity, determination and ruthlessness created empires in what was a marshy wasteland and describes the hardships endured by millions of working men and women whose labor helped a capitalist class reinvent the way America did business. Along the way, this program revels in Chicago's triumphs -- among them the architectural experimentation that gave the city one of the world's most distinctive skylines -- and delves into the heart of Chicago's painful struggles. Bringing to life the Windy City's rich mixture of cultures, its writers and journalists, its political corruption and labor upheavals, this film bears witness to the creation of one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the world.
Citizen King

Citizen King
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has become a mythic figure, a minister whose oratory is etched into the minds of millions of Americans. This film brings fresh insights to King's difficult journey, his leadership, and his impact.
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The story begins on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, when a 34-year-old preacher galvanized millions with his dream for an America free of racism. It comes to a bloody end almost five years later on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee.In the years since those events unfolded, the man at their center, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has become a mythic figure, a minister whose oratory is etched into the minds of millions of Americans, a civil rights activist whose words and image are more hotly contested, negotiated and sold than almost anyone else's in American history. Produced by award-winning director Orlando Bagwell, Citizen King pushes past the myths that have obscured King's story to reclaim the history of a people's leader. Using the personal recollections, diaries, letters, and eyewitness accounts of friends, journalists, law enforcement officers, historians, and others, this film brings fresh insights to King's difficult journey, his charismatic -- if at times flawed -- leadership, and his truly remarkable impact.

Daley, the Last Boss (no website available)
Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago, and his climb up the political ladder.
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Richard J. Daley was born on a street he would never leave and christened in the small church in which he would be buried. His climb up the political ladder to become Mayor was slow and methodical; in a job he coveted, he built a political machine that changed the nature of urban politics, but he was ill-equipped to cope with two great 20th century challenges: race and the war in Vietnam.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt
A provocative portrait of one of the century's most influential women.
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Eleanor Roosevelt struggled to overcome an unhappy childhood, betrayal in her marriage, a controlling mother-in-law, and gripping depressions -- all the while staying true to her passion for social justice. This biography includes rare home movies, contemporary footage, and reflections from Eleanor's closest surviving relatives, as well as biographers Blanche Wiesen Cook, Allida Black, and Geoffrey C. Ward, bringing to vibrant life one of the century1s most influential women.
Eyes on the Prize

Eyes on the Prize
Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, the series covers all of the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954-1965.
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Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the civil rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life, and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today. Winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Award, and a Television Critics Association Award, Eyes on the Prize is the most critically acclaimed documentary on civil rights in America.Eyes on the Prize recounts the fight to end decades of discrimination and segregation. It is the story of the people -- young and old, male and female, northern and southern -- who, compelled by a meeting of conscience and circumstance, worked to eradicate a world where whites and blacks could not go to the same school, ride the same bus, vote in the same election, or participate equally in society. It was a world in which peaceful demonstrators were met with resistance and brutality -- in short, a reality that is now nearly incomprehensible to many young Americans.Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions. Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates.The driving force behind Eyes on the Prize and Blackside, Henry Hampton (1940-1998) won numerous awards for this landmark series including the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton, the Peabody Award, and Academy Award nominations. He set out to share his vision of what he called "the remarkable human drama that was the Civil Rights Movement" through the Eyes on the Prize documentary and a book of the same title by Juan Williams. In recent years, a number of key figures who appear in the films (including the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, a leader of the Montgomery bus boycott; Coretta Scott King, wife of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, and an activist in her own right; Kwame Ture, also known as Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; and George Wallace, the 1960s Alabama governor who resisted integration) have died, making this record of their testimony all the more valuable.
FDR

FDR
Franklin Delano Roosevelt restored hope to a country that had lost it, led the nation during the greatest war in history and championed the common man.
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His radio "Fireside Chats" went into millions of living rooms; his picture hung on the walls of homes and businesses; his wife was the most admired woman in America. Franklin Delano Roosevelt restored hope to a country that had lost it, led the nation during the greatest war in history and championed the common man. Yet there was nothing common about his aristocratic beginnings, and his exuberant personality disguised a painful private world.
Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro
Castro's face with its trademark beard, has become an iconic image worldwide, yet the man himself remains an enigma to all but a few. Learn about the most resilient of leaders.
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On January 3, 1959, a column of victorious young rebels advanced along Cuba's main highway towards Havana. At the head of the column rode 33-year-old Fidel Castro Ruz. As he went by, a Cuban peasant turned to an American journalist, and said: "There he goes, the hope of a people."

Over the next few decades, by the force of his personality and the might of his Soviet benefactor, Castro turned himself and Cuba into significant players on the world stage. He did so while surviving the hostility of ten consecutive U.S. presidents, an invasion, several CIA assassination attempts and an economic embargo.

Castro's face with its trademark beard, has become an iconic image worldwide, yet the man himself remains an enigma to all but a few. Through interviews with relatives, childhood friends, fellow rebel leaders, Bay of Pigs veterans, human rights activists and journalists, American Experience: Fidel Castro constructs an intimate and revealing portrait of the most resilient of leaders.

Freedom on My Mind (no website available)
Recruits in a nonviolent army fight the white Mississippi political establishment to register black voters, create schools and bring national attention to the struggle.
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In the summer of 1964, two groups converged in Mississippi: one mostly young, white and well educated from out of state; the other, African Americans who lived in the most violently segregated state. Recruits in a nonviolent army, together they fought the white political establishment to register black voters, create schools and bring national attention to the struggle. It was a summer of rage, pain and enormous danger.
George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush
A biography of the 41st U.S. president, from his service in World War II to his days in the Oval Office.
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The latest in American Experience's series of award-winning and critically-acclaimed presidential portraits, this two-part biography examines the life and career of the 41st president, from his service in World War II and his early career in Texas to his days in the Oval Office, first as vice president to Ronald Reagan, then as the leader who presided over the first Gulf War. Drawing upon Bush's personal diaries and interviews with his closest advisors and most prominent critics, the film also explores Bush's role as the patriarch of a political family whose influence is unequaled in modern American life.
George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire

George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire
He preached segregation now, segregation forever -- then he asked to be forgiven.
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Four times governor of Alabama, four times a candidate for president, he was feared as a racist demagogue and admired as a politician who spoke his mind. A lightning rod for controversy, Wallace both reflected and provoked tensions in American society over more than four decades. This film traces the rise of the firebrand politician from his roots in rural Alabama to the assassination attempt that suddenly transformed him.

George Washington -- The Man Who Wouldn't Be King (no website available)
The little known story of our first president.
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He was bumbling, yet ambitious. He volunteered to serve his country, but insisted on being reimbursed for expenses. He was the most famous general of the Revolution but a dismal tactician on the battlefield. Greedy and selfish, service to the colonies would profoundly change him. The man who came to symbolize the American Revolution could also be incredibly brave, generous and an inspirational leader who scorned attempts to participate in any system but a democratic one.
Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst
The bizarre saga of the Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst's kidnapping, Hearst's conversion to her captors' cause, and the bank robberies and shootouts that followed.
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In 1974, a militant, fringe, political group kidnapped teenage newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst from her Berkeley apartment. In the months that followed. Hearst, the Symbionese Liberation Army (S.L.A.) and their constant, paramilitary audio messages dominated the headlines globally, creating a media frenzy.

Using a treasure trove of archival footage and audio material, this American Experience film follows the bizarre saga from the establishment of the S.L.A. through the kidnapping, Hearst's conversion to her captors' cause, and the bank robberies and shootouts that followed. First-ever interviews with two surviving members of the S.L.A. provide insight into the politically-charged times and the reasons why the group embraced revolutionary rhetoric and a terrorist agenda. As the spectacle unfolds, and journalists camped outside the Hearst home become consumed by the story, the film introduces questions about the role of the media and the ethics of broadcast journalism.

Hijacked

Hijacked
In September 1970, Palestinian militants seized five commercial aircraft, giving birth to a new era of terrorism.
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For more than 30 years it would be known as "the blackest day in aviation history." On September 6, 1970, members of the militant Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (P.F.L.P.), hijacked four commercial airplanes. They commandeered a fifth aircraft three days later. Wanting to attract attention to the Palestinian cause and secure the release of several of their comrades, the P.F.L.P. spectacularly blew up four of the planes.

Today the commanders who planned and carried out the attack resist comparison to the terrorists who masterminded the events of September 11, 2001: members of the P.F.L.P. were not religious extremists, but secular Marxist Leninists. And of the almost 600 passengers taken hostage, none were killed. And yet more than three decades later, it is clear that a connection exists between the two seminal events, that September 6, 1970 gave birth to a new era of terrorism. In telling this dramatic and complicated story, award-winning producer Ilan Ziv interviews leaders of the P.F.L.P., militants who carried out the attack, journalists who covered the hijackings, crew members and passengers. More than just recounting the events of those tense September days, this American Experience production examines how and when Middle East militants began to see civilians as legitimate pawns in their struggles for self-determination.

Ike (no website available)
A skillful politician, a tough Cold Warrior and one of America's least understood presidents.
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He went off to war an unknown soldier and returned a beloved hero. Often dismissed as a good-natured bumbler, Dwight D. Eisenhower was actually a skillful politician, a tough Cold Warrior and one of America's least understood presidents. When he left office in 1960, historians ranked Eisenhower in the bottom third of American presidents, below Chester Arthur. By the 1990s, he ranked near the top.

Insanity on Trial (no website available)
The trial of Charles Julius Guiteau, the man who shot and fatally wounded President James A. Garfield.
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On July 2, 1881, Charles Julius Guiteau shot and fatally wounded President James A. Garfield in the lobby of the Baltimore & Potomac train station in Washington, D.C. As sensational as the assassination itself was, Guiteau's trial lasted over three months and became a very public battle over the meaning of insanity. Was it hereditary? Did it show on a man's face?
Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter
The story of an ambitious peanut farmer who rose to become America's thirty-ninth president. A failure in his single term in office, Carter turned to humanitarian work as an ex-president.
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Jimmy Carter traces the ascent of an ambitious country boy from a peanut farm in Plains, Georgia, to the Oval Office; examines the failings of Carter's political leadership in the turbulent 1970s; and explores the role religion played in his career. Carter ran for president as an outsider. He rode into power on the post-Watergate disaffection with Washington politics. But his inexperience resulted in an ineffectual and fractured administration. Inflation, recession, and a humbling hostage crisis blew his presidency dramatically off course. The crowning achievement of his one term in office, the Camp David Accords, which established a framework for peace in the Middle East, was the inspiration for his life after the White House. In the years since, Carter has recast himself as a giant of moral leadership. He has struggled to bring peace to war-torn countries; fought for the eradication of life-threatening diseases; and dedicated himself to housing America's poorest citizens. The film features interviews with many close to the Carter administration, including his wife Rosalynn, son Chip, Press Secretary Jody Powell and Vice President Walter Mondale.
John and Abigail Adams

John and Abigail Adams
This film explores the remarkable characters and tumultuous times of John and Abigail Adams, using excerpts from their many letters to bring their story to life.
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John and Abigail Adams played a critical role in many of the pivotal events of their era: he was a vociferous participant at the Continental Congress; she was an important eyewitness reporter during the Siege of Boston; he was an important wartime emissary to France. In the post-war era, first as vice president, then as president, Adams was caught up in the increasing political divisiveness that characterized the 1790s when rifts in the country almost pulled the fledgling nation apart.Opening a window onto the revolutionary era, John and Abigail's story provides a strikingly intimate look inside a marriage of true companions, for whom life included not just the great events of history, but also laughter, loneliness, affection, and family tragedy.
John Brown's Holy War

John Brown's Holy War
Murderer, martyr, hero -- his violent crusade would spark the Civil War.
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Martyr, madman, murderer, hero: John Brown remains one of history's most controversial and misunderstood figures. In the 1850s, he and his ragtag guerrilla group embarked on a righteous crusade against slavery that was based on religious faith -- yet carried out with shocking violence. His execution at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, set off a chain of events that led to the Civil War.

Kennedy vs. Wallace -- A Crisis Up Close (no website available)
An intimate portrait of the Kennedy brothers and their confrontation with Alabama Governor George Wallace.
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An intimate portrait of the Kennedy brothers and their confrontation with Alabama Governor George Wallace when he defied the courts by refusing to integrate the University in 1963. The film offers unprecedented access to the Oval Office as well as to strategy meetings held by Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
LBJ

LBJ
One of the most astute, perplexing and larger-than-life figures in modern American history.
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He was one of the most astute, perplexing and larger-than-life figures in modern American history. An accidental president, Lyndon Baines Johnson set out to make his mark by pushing through historic social legislation of a scale that rivaled FDR's New Deal. Bombastic and deeply emotional, Johnson's vision was shattered by the increasing debacle of Vietnam, and his presidency began to unravel.

Love in the Cold War (no website available)
A family torn apart by political beliefs.
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Eugene Dennis fled to Moscow to avoid indictment and prison for his work for the American Communist Party in the late 1920s; his wife Peggy and 18-month-old son soon followed. In 1935, they were reassigned to America but ordered to leave behind their five-year-old who spoke only Russian. A second son, born in America, offers an honest and touching examination of the lives of his parents, whose political beliefs tore the family apart.
Malcolm X -- Make It Plain

Malcolm X -- Make It Plain
If any man expressed the anger, struggle and insistence of black people for freedom in the sixties, it was Malcolm X.
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If any man expressed the anger, struggle and insistence of black people for freedom in the sixties, it was Malcolm X. In Omaha, he was Malcolm Little; later he became "Detroit Red" a small time street hustler. From prison emerged another Malcolm, the fiery, eloquent spokesman for the Nation of Islam. After a trip to Mecca, there was a last transformation -- a new willingness to accept white allies. Who killed him and why has never been fully explained.
Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind

Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind
The rise and fall of an African American leader who influenced politics and culture around the world.
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He was both a visionary and a manipulator, a brilliant orator and a pompous autocrat. In just ten years following his emigration to the United States as a laborer in 1917, Marcus Garvey rose to lead the largest black organization in history, was taken to prison in handcuffs, and was eventually deported. Marcus Garvey is the dramatic story of the rise and fall of an African American leader who influenced politics and culture around the world.
Monkey Trial

Monkey Trial
An all-out duel between science and religion.
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In 1925, a Tennessee, biology teacher named John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in defiance of state law. His trial became an epic event of the 20th century, a debate over free speech that spiraled into an all-out duel between science and religion. Featuring two of the 20th century's greatest orators, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, the Scopes trial was America's first major media event, with hundreds of reporters and live nationwide radio coverage dispersing the sensational news. Outside the courthouse, a circus atmosphere prevailed as a chimpanzee in a suit and hat vied with fire-and-brimstone preachers for the crowd's attention.Monkey Trial explores the dramatic moment when a new fault line opened in society as scientific discoveries began to challenge the literal truth of the Bible. Often humorous and at times frightening, the story of two value systems colliding resonates today.
Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore
The story of a temperamental artist and the creation of the world's largest piece of sculpture.
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High on a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents. Together they constitute the world's largest sculpture. The massive tableau inspires awe and bemusement. How, and when, was it carved? Who possessed the audacity to create such a gargantuan work?The story of Mount Rushmore's creation is as bizarre and wonderful as the monument itself. It is the tale of a hyperactive, temperamental artist whose talent and determination propelled the project, even as his ego and obsession threatened to tear it apart. It is the story of hucksterism and hyperbole, of a massive public works project in the midst of an economic depression. And it is the story of dozens of ordinary Americans who suddenly found themselves suspended high on a cliff face with drills and hammers as a sculptor they considered insane directed them in the creation of what some would call a monstrosity and others a masterpiece.
New York: A Documentary Film

New York: A Documentary Film
The history of a great city, and the forces that have shaped it.
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Known round the world as "The Big Apple," the thriving metropolis of New York offers everything one could want in a big city -- action, arts, nightlife, culture and more. So how did this city grow from a Dutch trading post into a global and cultural center? The program begins in the early 1600s when the Dutch arrived, and documents the city's development up to the dawn of the 21st century.New York explores the city's role in the American Revolution, and shows how a massive wave of immigrants began the metropolitan melting pot and created new social problems, culminating in Civil War riots. As the city grew, it experienced a new political corruption and a new-found wealth. As the 20th century approached, more immigrants arrived, skyscrapers rose from the ground, and the subway roared into action. New York became a nucleus of cultural activity blazing with glamour and excitement. The program provides an extraordinary view of the 20th century's major events, from the Depression to the New Deal, economic and population booms to social revolution, rebuilding and resurgence.Through unparalleled archival paintings, portraits, photographs and newsreels, and through interviews with celebrated and ordinary citizens, the film paints a brilliant picture of America's biggest city.
Nixon

Nixon
One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America.
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He possessed a fateful combination of strengths and weaknesses that propelled him to the White House and then brought him down. One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America. From his days as a young anti-Communist crusader to the president who astounded the nation with his foreign policy initiatives in China and the Soviet Union, and finally, his resignation in the face of impeachment, Nixon was a tragically insecure man with a bold vision. At the center of American politics for more than 25 years, he continues to arouse both anger and admiration.
Nixon's China Game

Nixon's China Game
A secret diplomatic breakthrough that shocked and changed the world.
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In February 1972, after a quarter-century of mutual antagonism between the United States and China, President Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing for a historic encounter with Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The climax of a secret White House initiative headed by Henry Kissinger, the diplomatic breakthrough shocked both America's allies and its enemies. Drawing on recently declassified records and key eyewitnesses, the program re-creates, step by dangerous step, the events leading up to what Nixon called "the week that changed the world."

One Woman, One Vote (no website available)
The infighting, the alliances and betrayals, defeats and victories on the way to winning the right to vote.
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From Elizabeth Cady Stanton's electrifying call to arms at Seneca Falls in 1848, to the last battle for passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, a recounting of the infighting, the alliances and betrayals, defeats and victories on the way to winning the right to vote. The struggle split the suffragist movement into two opposing forces: the militants who faced imprisonment and riots and those who argued for a quieter, more persuasive ways. Both tactics, it turned out, were needed.
Oswald's Ghost

Oswald's Ghost
A fresh look at President John F. Kennedys assassination, the publics reaction, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in government institutions.
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The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left a psychic wound on America that is with us still today. Few Americans then or now accept that a lone, inconsequential gunman could bring down a president and alter history. In that breach, a culture of conspiracy has arisen that points to sinister forces at work in the shadows. Drawing upon rarely seen archival footage and interviews with key participants, Oswald's Ghost takes a fresh look at Kennedy's assassination, the public's reaction to the tragedy, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in the institutions that govern our society.
Race for the Superbomb

Race for the Superbomb
The U.S. and the Soviet Union race to build the world's most powerful bomb.
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At the dawn of the Cold War, the United States initiated a top secret program in New Mexico to build a weapon even more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. A world away, on the frozen steppes of Siberia, the Soviet Union began a similar effort. A web of spies and scientists, intrigue and deception marked the race to develop the hydrogen bomb, a weapon that would change the world.
Reagan

Reagan
The life of the president who saw America as a "shining city on a hill" and himself as its heroic defender.
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When he left the White House in 1988, Ronald Reagan was one of the most popular presidents of the century. A former Hollywood actor and seemingly simple man, Reagan had been consistently underestimated by his opponents. He overcame them all with a combination of charm and unfailing optimism, rising to become a president who always preferred to see America as a "shining city on a hill" and himself as its heroic defender.
Reconstruction The Second Civil War

Reconstruction The Second Civil War
The stories of ordinary people, North and South, in the tumultuous years after the Civil War, when America struggled to rebuild the Union and integrate former slaves into the life of the nation.
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In his first speech after the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln began with only a few words to celebrate the recent victory. He went straight to the problem at hand: acknowledging that there was no agreed-upon plan for the future, and warning that the way ahead would be "fraught with great difficulty." Spanning the years 1863 to 1877, Reconstruction tells the story of the tumultuous years after the Civil War during which America struggled to rebuild itself, successfully bring the South back into the Union and integrate former slaves into the life of the country. This three-hour series interweaves the stories of key political players in Washington -- among them Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses Grant -- with the stories of ordinary people, black and white, Republican and Democrat, in the North and South, whose lives were caught up in the turbulent struggles of the era.
Remember the Alamo

Remember the Alamo
In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Under Mexican rule, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers, and 4,000 Mexican Texans or Tejanos. With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side.
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In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Although under Mexican rule, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers agitated by what they saw as restrictive Mexican policies. Mexican officials, concerned with illegal trading and immigration, were prepared to fight hard to keep the province under their control. Caught in the middle were the area's 4,000 Mexican Texans or Tejanos.With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side. Many chose to fight with their Anglo neighbors against an army sent by Mexico City. The conflict pitted brother against brother and devastated the community. The Tejano gamble for a more prosperous future in an independent Texas proved tragic. Following the revolution, the Tejanos were overwhelmed by a surge of Anglo immigration leaving them foreigners in a land they had fought to defend.
RFK

RFK
Robert Francis Kennedy would almost certainly have been president if his violent death hadn't intervened. This probing and perceptive biography reassesses the remarkable and tragic life of the third Kennedy son, the boy Joe Sr. called the "runt."
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Robert Francis Kennedy would almost certainly have been president if his violent death hadn't intervened. He was brave, claims one biographer, "precisely because he was fearful and self-doubting." This probing and perceptive biography reassesses the remarkable and tragic life of the third Kennedy son, the boy Joe Sr. called the "runt."Featuring extensive interviews with family members, friends, journalists, Washington insiders, and civil rights activists, the film chronicles the pivotal role RFK played in many of the major events of the 1960s -- the Cuban Missile Crisis , the civil rights movement , the war in Vietnam. The film looks closely at Kennedy's complicated relationships with some of the leading figures of his day, Martin Luther King and Lyndon B. Johnson among them. And it reveals much about his personal world, his role as family mediator, his involvement with Marilyn Monroe, and his overwhelming grief and guilt following the assassination of his older brother.

Scandalous Mayor (no website available)
James Michael Curley and his sophisticated political machine dominated Boston for almost half a century.
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James Michael Curley dominated Boston's politics for almost half a century, building a sophisticated political machine based on rhetoric, old-fashioned patronage and sheer personal will. In 1903, he ran a campaign from jail and won; he overpowered opponents with charisma and intelligence, and if that didn't work, he smeared them. Curley's colorful, combative style seized the imagination of the community because he thumbed his nose at the Yankee establishment.
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy

Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
The trial of nine falsely accused teens would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War.
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In 1931, two white women stepped from a box car in Paint Rock, Alabama to make a shocking accusation: they had been raped by nine black teenagers on the train. So began one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century. The trial of the nine falsely accused teens would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War, yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions and give birth to the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to its historical significance, the Scottsboro story is a riveting drama about the struggles of nine innocent young men for their lives and a cautionary tale about using human beings as fodder for political causes.

Simple Justice (no website available)
The legal efforts to eradicate segregation, case by case, state by state.
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Thirty years after the Supreme Court's "separate but equal" ruling, lawyer Charles Hamilton took over Howard University's rundown, segregated law school with the idea of training a cadre of elite African American lawyers to legally eradicate segregation, case by case, state by state. Their relentless and dangerous struggle would yield victory in the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. A dramatic presentation.

Spy in the Sky (no website available)
The plane provided a high-tech peek behind the Iron Curtain.
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In the spring of 1960, Francis Gary Powers' U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. Overnight, this top-secret plane became the most famous aircraft in the world. Behind the incident was a team of engineers and pilots who had raced against the clock to design, perfect and deploy a plane which could provide a high-tech peek behind the Iron Curtain.
The Duel

The Duel
Two patriots clash in a fatal ritual of honor.
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The most famous duel in American history climaxed a long-standing conflict between two of the most important men in the country. Alexander Hamilton, an impoverished immigrant from the West Indies, rose to become a framer of the U.S. Constitution and the architect of America's political economy. Aaron Burr, grandson of the theologian Jonathan Edwards, served with distinction in the Revolutionary War and was nearly elected the nation's third president. In 1804 they met in a duel -- an honor match that changed the course of American history.

The Fall of Saigon (no website available)
Ten years after American ground troops arrived in South Vietnam, communists seized Saigon in a lightning attack that brought the war to a startling conclusion.
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South Vietnamese leaders believed that America would never let them go down to defeat -- a belief that died as North Vietnamese tanks smashed into Saigon on April 30, 1975, and the long war ended with South Vietnam's surrender.
The Kennedys

The Kennedys
A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other.
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No family has had such a powerful hold on the American imagination. A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other. From Joseph Kennedy's rise on Wall Street and frustrations in politics, through John Kennedy's march to the presidency -- orchestrated by his father -- to Edward Kennedy's withdrawal from the 1980 presidential race following the scandal of Chappaquiddick, the family has left a legacy that continues to influence politics today.
The Man Behind Hitler

The Man Behind Hitler
This portrait of Joseph Goebbels, delivered in words taken directly from his diaries, offers an insiderÍs view of the rise of the Nazi party.
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A symbol of Nazi cruelty and a master of cynical propaganda, Joseph Goebbels was the mastermind behind Adolf Hitler's disturbing success.Goebbels, called the "genius of spin" and the "Reich-Liar-General," was a complicated man whose attitudes fluctuated between extremes of self-pity and grandiose excess. This program shows how Goebbels constantly reinvented himself through the years of his greatest success, and allows the man to speak for himself through the diaries he kept. Actor Kenneth Branagh reads the diary excerpts, revealing a chilling personality whose words justified racism, the Holocaust, and total war.Rare historical footage from German archives traces the path of the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, exploring his initial attraction to the Nazi party, his adoration of Hitler, his wild extermination fantasies, and, ultimately, his tragic self-delusions and suicide in 1945.
The Murder of Emmett Till

The Murder of Emmett Till
Chicago teen Emmett Till's brutal murder in 1955 mobilized the civil rights movement.
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In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head.Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.
The Nuremberg Trials

The Nuremberg Trials
The story of the dramatic post-World War II tribunal that brought Nazi leaders to justice and defines trial procedure for state criminals to this day.
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In November 1945, surviving representatives of the Nazi elite stood before an international military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany. The 22 men were charged with the systematic murder of millions during World War II. U.S. chief prosecutor Robert Jackson hoped to show that crimes against humanity would never again go unpunished.
The Pill

The Pill
The story behind the development of the drug that put women in control of birth control.
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In May 1960, the FDA approved the sale of a pill that arguably would have a greater impact on American culture than any other drug in the nation's history. For women across the country, the contraceptive pill was liberating: it allowed them to pursue careers, fueled the feminist and pro-choice movements and encouraged more open attitudes towards sex. Among the key players in the development of the drug were two elderly female activists who demanded a contraceptive women could eat like aspirin and then paid for the scientific research; a devout Catholic gynecologist who believed a robust sex life made for a good marriage and argued tirelessly that the Pill was a natural form of birth control; and a brilliant biologist who bullied a pharmaceutical company into risking a possibly crippling boycott to develop this revolutionary contraceptive. In describing the obstacles they all hurdled, The Pill presents a compelling account of a society in transition.
The Rockefellers

The Rockefellers
No American family was as powerful, as admired -- or as hated.
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Few families in America have been as powerful, as admired, or as hated as the Rockefellers. And no family has been as rich. Over the course of more than a century, they exerted an unparalleled influence over nearly every aspect of American life, from business and government to art and education. The saga of four generations of a remarkable family.
TR, The Story of Theodore Roosevelt

TR, The Story of Theodore Roosevelt
Author, soldier, scientist, outdoorsman and caring father, he was the youngest man to become president.
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He was an unpredictable dynamo, a "steamroller in trousers." At the turn of the century, Theodore Roosevelt embodied America. Author, soldier, scientist, outdoorsman and caring father, he was the youngest man to become president. Expanding the power of the Oval Office, Roosevelt helped create the modern presidency and redefined the course of the nation. But behind all the unbridled confidence and achievement was a man haunted by grief.
Truman

Truman
The story of the unlikely rise of a gritty American original.
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He was a farmer, a businessman gone bankrupt, an unknown politician from Missouri who suddenly found himself president. Of all the men who had held the highest office, Harry Truman was the least prepared. But he would prove to be a surprise. Facing some of the biggest crises of the century, Truman would end the war with Germany, use the atomic bomb against Japan, confront an expanding Soviet Union and wage war in Korea -- all while the woman he adored, his wife Bess, refused to stay in the White House and play the role of First Lady. The story of the unlikely rise of a gritty American original.
Two Days in October

Two Days in October
In Vietnam, a U.S. battalion marched into an ambush. Half a world away, a student demonstration turned violent for the first time. Two days in 1967 revealed a nation divided over a war that continues to haunt us.
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Based on the book They Marched Into Sunlight by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss, this American Experience production tells the story of two turbulent days in October 1967 when history turned a corner.

In Vietnam, a U.S. battalion unwittingly marched into a Viet Cong trap. Sixty-one young men were killed and as many wounded. The ambush prompted some in power to wonder whether the war might be unwinnable.

Half a world away, angry students at the University of Wisconsin protested the presence of Dow Chemical recruiters on campus. The demonstration spiraled out of control, marking the first time that a student protest had turned violent.

Told almost entirely by the people who took part in the harrowing events of those two days -- American soldiers, police officers, relatives of men killed in battle, protesting students, university administrators and Viet Cong fighters -- the film offers a window onto a moment that divided a nation and a war that continues to haunt us.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant
The dramatic story of one of America's most paradoxical leaders. The greatest hero of the Civil War, Grant was an ineffective president whose two terms in office were rocked by racial conflict and corruption scandals.
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This multi-hour biography of Ulysses S. Grant paints a nuanced portrait of one of America's most paradoxical leaders. The greatest hero of the Civil War, Grant was a brilliant military strategist who rose from obscurity to a rank held previously only by George Washington. However, the strength of the Confederate resistance forced Grant into a hard war that destroyed the South and led to his being labeled "a butcher."Propelled into the White House by his battlefield success, Grant lacked the political skills to deal with the issues of the era: reconstructing the South and managing the nation's rapidly expanding economy. His two terms were rocked by bitter racial conflict and corruption scandals. Seven years after leaving office, Grant was financially ruined by the collapse of an investment house in which he had placed his assets. He spent his final days in a race against time as he battled cancer while finishing his epic war memoirs.
Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson
He was a confident and gifted orator who craved affection and demanded loyalty. An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, he led America at a time of war and chaos. Woodrow Wilson explores the transformation of a history professor into one
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He was a gifted orator who was supremely confident before crowds, yet awkward in small groups. An emotionally complex man, he craved affection and demanded unquestioned loyalty. An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, he led America onto the world stage at a time when war and chaos threatened everything he cherished.Woodrow Wilson, a three-hour biography in two parts, explores the transformation of a history professor into one of America's greatest presidents. Wilson's life was shaped by great conflicts: the Civil War which he lived through as a child, and the First World War into which he reluctantly led America as president. The second conflict ultimately claimed him as a victim. While campaigning for his far-sighted League of Nations, he suffered a paralyzing stroke from which he never fully recovered. The only president incapacitated in office, Wilson carried out his duties from bed with the help of his wife who became the de facto chief executive.
THEMATIC: War and Politics:

Politics  |   The Cold War  |   War/Military

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