A History of the U.S. Constitution

It is our nation's most revered document and a creation of mankind's enduring search for liberty and freedom. It resonates with the spirit of the times during which it was conceived and serves as a guide to an unknown and rapidly changing future. It is the United States of America's Constitution.
The Seeds of the ConstitutionRunning Time: 0:28:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this first program on the US Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1619-Virginia Colonists Create the First Legislative Assembly
00:07:54Virginia Colonists created the colonies' first Representative Assembly, the House of Burgesses, while in New England, the leaders of Puritanism, like Thomas Hooker, believed the free consent of the governed gave government its authority and Carolina wrote its own Fundamental Constitution.
2.) 1733- Parliament Restricts Free Trade Through the Molasses Act
00:02:56The causes of the American Revolution would lay in British Parliament and unfair legislation such as the Molasses Act.
3.) 1735-The Peter Zenger Trial lays the seed for Freedom of the Press
00:04:03One of the causes of the American Revolution was the colonists cry for a Free Press, first established by Peter Zenger, and which later would become a cherished American liberty as well as one of the civil rights of the U.S. Constitution.
4.) 1739-Black Uprising in South Carolina Foreshadows Constitutional Crisis
00:03:16Slavery in the 18th century would lead to slave revolts.
5.) 1739-The Great Awakening and the Separation of Church and State
00:03:43George Whitefield, founder of the Colonial Great Awakening, would establish throughout the colonies the desire for Freedom of Religion, a part of the U.S. constitution.
Founding the ConstitutionRunning Time: 0:28:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this second program on the U.S. Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1750-Iron Act Restricts American Business
00:04:17Britain's Iron act would help start the American Revolution because of its harsh effect on colonial iron manufacturers in Pennsylvania's Schuylkill Valley.
2.) 1754-The Albany Plan of Union Sets Out the Foundation for the U.S. Constitution
00:02:21The Albany plan of Union, introduced by Benjamin Franklin, would help lead to the American Revolution.
3.) 1760-James Otis Fights for the Security of People in Their Homes
00:01:57James Otis fought against illegal searches, a pivotal issue in the American Revolution, and later part of Civil Rights in the U.S. Constitution.
4.) 1765-The Stamp Act and Taxation Without Representation
00:03:21Parliament's Stamp Act would lead to the American Revolution and help create revolutionary leaders such as Patrick Henry and the Sons of Liberty.
5.) 1774-The Quartering Act Leads to the Third Amendment
00:03:13U.S. Constitution's 3rd Amendment was a result of Parliament's Quartering Act, which was one of the causes of the American Revolution.
6.) 1774-Massachusetts Creates the Minutemen Militia
00:08:16U.S. Constitution's 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms, resulted from the American Revolution and the need of the colonies' militia, to have arms to fight, as the minutemen fought at Lexington and Concord. Later militias would be regulated by the Militia Act and the establishment of the National Guard, while the U.S. Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of gun control.
Writing the Constitution and the Bill of RightsRunning Time: 0:28:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this third program on the U.S. Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1774-First Continental Congress Meets in Philadelphia
00:02:03The Continental Congress paved the way for the American Revolution by resisting the Intolerable Acts, and, led by men such as Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, John Adams, and George Washington, created a new nation, the United States.
2.) 1776-Declaration of Independence
00:03:07The Declaration of Independence, which started the American Revolution and would become the foundation for the U.S. constitution while establishing the country's Independence Day, was written by Thomas Jefferson, as a fundamental doctrine of civil rights and was signed on July 4th.
3.) 1786-Shay's Rebellion Shows the Need for a New Constitution
00:01:53Shays' Rebellion, led by Daniel Shays, leads to a new U.S. Constitution.
4.) 1787-The United States Constitution is Written
00:04:55The Constitution replaces the Articles of Confederation, when leaders such as George Washington, Ben Franklin and James Madison, meet to write a new U.S. Constitution, with the support of Thomas Jefferson and the authors of the Federalist Papers.
5.) 1788-Congress Sends 12 Amendments to the States
00:03:16The Bill of Rights, central to American democracy, was written by James Madison as a Declaration of Human Rights to protect civil rights - the civil liberties of the people.
6.) 1789-Alexander Hamilton Shapes America's Modern Industrial Economy
00:02:29Alexander Hamilton, protecting American Businesses and American inventors, is killed by Aaron Burr after founding the Bank of the United States.
7.) 1791-States Ratify Madison's Bill of Rights
00:03:05The Bill of Rights, written by James Madison, presents Constitutional amendments guaranteeing, among others, Freedom of Press, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of speech.
Testing the ConstitutionRunning Time: 0:29:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this fourth program on the U.S. Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1793-Congress Enacts a Fugitive Slave Act
00:02:41The Fugitive Slave Act would be used as a bargaining chip for passage of the Bill of Rights, but it would promote Slavery, the buying and selling of slaves, in order to get Americans' cherished Civil Rights into the Constitution.
2.) 1794-Congress Passes the 11th Amendment Protecting States Rights
00:05:03The 11th Amendment, protecting States' Rights, was passed in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Georgia v. Chisholm.
3.) 1794-Freedom to Protest is Tested in the Whiskey Rebellion
00:03:04The Whiskey Rebellion is put down by George Washington.
4.) 1796-John Adams Becomes the Second President of the United States Inaugurating the Two-party system
00:03:34The election of John Adams as President founded America's Two-party system, as the former Vice President created dissidents - Republicans, and supporters - Federalists.
5.) 1798-Alien and Sedition Acts Usher in a Bleak Period of American Political Freedom
00:02:40The Sedition Act and Alien Acts disrupt American Civil Rights.
6.) 1803-John Marshall Establishes a Strong Supreme Court Through Marbury v. Madison
00:06:28The decision in Marbury v. Madison by the Supreme Court under John Marshall, the Chief Justice, established the right of Judicial Review.
The Constitution SurvivesRunning Time: 0:31:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this fifth program on the U.S. Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1810-Marshall Establishes the Sanctity of Contracts
00:04:56The legality and power of Contracts was set out under Chief Justice John Marshall, a Federalist who sought to protect American business and property owners.
2.) 1828-Jacksonian Democracy and the Constitution
00:04:10Jacksonian Democracy, named after President Andrew Jackson, brought the common man into U.S. politics.
3.) 1848-Mexican American War and Manifest Destiny Set up America's Greatest Constitutional Crisis
00:06:29The Mexican American War, begun by President James K. Polk, was fought to bring Texas into the union and to promote slavery and Manifest Destiny.
4.) 1861-Southern States Secede and Force Constitutional Crisis
00:09:08The Civil War, fought to end Slavery and bring the Confederacy back into the Union was led by Abraham Lincoln.
The Constitution is ExpandedRunning Time: 0:29:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this sixth program on the U.S. Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1865-70 - 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments : The Anti-Slavery Amendments
00:02:28After the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution guaranteed civil rights to all blacks, including the right to vote.
2.) 1872- Susan B. Anthony Fights for Women's Right to Vote
00:02:30Susan B. Anthony, a leader of women's rights and civil rights, was helped by long time friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
3.) 1887- The Interstate Commerce Act Opens the Door for Increased Federal Power
00:05:01The Interstate Commerce Act increased Federal Power by creating the first of the regulatory agencies, the Interstate Commerce Commission.
4.) 1896-Plessy v. Ferguson Establishes Separate but Equal for Black America
00:02:46In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds segregation and Jim Crow laws setting back civil rights.
5.) 1913-16th Amendment Creates the Income Tax
00:02:4216th Amendment creating the income tax is passed.
6.) 1913-17th Amendment Allows for the Popular Election of Senators
00:02:49The 17th Amendment, allowing the direct election of senators, is passed.
7.) 1918-Prohibition and the 18th Amendment
00:03:59Prohibition would help lead America to the Roaring 20s and create the speakeasy and American organized crime, but the 18th Amendment's social engineering did nothing to stop alcoholism.
The Constitution in a Changing WorldRunning Time: 0:27:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this seventh program on the U.S. Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1919-The Supreme Court Limits Free Speech and Freedom of the Press in Schenck v. U.S.
00:05:43The Supreme Court has ruled on Free Speech and Freedom of the Press, basic civil rights, in times of war, first in 1919 in Schenck v. U.S. and then in 1971 with the Pentagon papers, but it has yet to rule on the Patriot Act of 2001.
2.) 1920-Women Gain the Right to Vote Through the 19th Amendment
00:02:38The 19th Amendment allowed women to gain the right to vote, a right fought for by suffragettes first led by Susan B. Anthony in the 19th century.
3.) 1933 - 20th and 21st New Deal Amendments Herald a Change in American Life
00:05:3320th Amendment brought forward the date of inauguration for the President and Vice President to January 20th, while 21st Amendment ended Prohibition.
4.) 1951-Americans Limit a President to Two Terms with the 22nd Amendment
00:02:38The 22nd Amendment put term limits on the President.
5.) 1954-Brown v. Board of Education Ends "Separate but Equal" for Black America
00:02:55Brown v. Board of Education, reestablished civil rights lost in Plessey V. Ferguson, which allowed Jim Crow laws, but black lawyer Thurgood Marshal led the fight for desegregation which was upheld by the Earl Warren court.
6.) 1961-Citizens of Washington D.C. Gain the Right to Vote with the 23rd Amendment
00:02:29The 23rd Amendment gave citizens of Washington D.C. the right to vote for President and Vice President.
Constitutional Reform and ControversyRunning Time: 0:30:00

A History of the U.S. Constitution is presented in this eighth program on the U.S. Constitution, which examines how the American style of democracy evolved through the United States Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution.

Chapter List
1.) 1961-Supreme Court Prevents Illegal Search and Seizure with Mapp v. Ohio
00:02:50In 1964 the Supreme Court enforced the 4th Amendment's protection against an illegal search without a proper search warrant.
2.) 1964-Warren Court Strengthens "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" Through Miranda
00:03:44The Miranda ruling by the Supreme Court expanded the legal rights of the accused.
3.) 1964-24th Amendment Prohibits Poll Taxes in Federal Elections
00:03:26The 24th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extended Civil rights of blacks.
4.) 1967-1992 - The 25th, 26th and 27th Amendments Reform America's Political Landscape
00:04:47The issue of a President being alive but unable to carry out his duties was solved with the 25th Amendment, clarifying the line of succession, while the 26th Amendment gave the right to vote to 18 year olds, and the 27th Amendment limited the pay of Congress.
5.) 1973 - Roe v. Wade Extends Constitutional Right of Privacy
00:02:31Roe v. Wade, the landmark case for woman's rights, involving Jane Roe who sued to get an abortion against DA Henry Wade, would pit Pro Life versus Pro Choice in a struggle over privacy rights that began with Griswold V. Connecticut.
6.) 2000-America Contests a Presidential Election
00:05:41The Presidential election 2000 was a disputed election between Albert Gore and George W. Bush as ultimately decided by a decision of the Supreme Court.
Series SKUUSC
Video Programs8
SubjectsHistory, American History, Political Science, Constitutional History, U.S. Government, Social Studies
Supplemental Files21
Released2005
Produced By Ambrose Video Publishing Inc./Centre Communications
Copyright ©2005 Ambrose Video Publishing Inc./Centre Communications
Grade Levels10th Grade through Post Secondary
History of the U.S. Constitution - Teachers Guide
Historical Document - The Militia Act of 1792
Historical Document - The South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, 1861
Historical Document - The U.S. Constitution
Historical Document - The Declaration of Independence
Historical Document - The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut 1638
Historical Document - The Judiciary Act of 1789
Historical Document - Roe v. Wade 1973
Historical Document - Schenck v. U.S., 1919
Historical Document - The Bill of Rights
Historical Document - Marbury v. Madison 1803
Historical Document - Miranda v. Arizona 1964
Historical Document - Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
Historical Document - Interstate Commerce Act 1887
Historical Document - Kelo et al. v. City of New London et al. 2005
Historical Document - Mapp v. Ohio, 1961
Historical Document - Amendments to the Constitution
Historical Document - Bush v. Gore 2000
Historical Document - Dred Scott v. Sanford 1857
History of the U.S. Constitution - Blackline Master Quizzes
MARC Records for USC
MARC records for the Full Series USC, A History of the U.S. Constitution