Volume I explores our founding principles of freedom. It begins by looking through the lens of the early patriots of Lexington and understanding why they fought. The articles delve into our founding documents and unwrap the essential components of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. However, there is more to the story. Episode 3 uncovers the attack on these principles for more than one hundred years.
Ideas matter only to the extent that people develop and apply them. This is the story that begins with colonization and culminates with independence. It is a gripping story with real heroes—people who made choices, took risks, made mistakes, and, in the end, set the stage for the American nation. It shows the origins of ideas like limited government, federalism, and religious liberty, emphasizing how rare and valuable is our American heritage.
The Declaration of Independence is the cornerstone of American exceptionalism. The Declaration established our nation on the bedrock of universal principles. Yet even more important and far more remarkable, its primary author described it as “common sense” and “an expression of the American mind.” The Declaration was not merely the sentiments of a philosophic elite handed down to instruct the masses. It was, rather, a summing up of the beliefs of all American patriots.
Freedom has always had its critics. In the latter 19th Century, American academics returned from Europe with a strain of ideas that rejected the principles of the Declaration and the limits of the Constitution. They sought a new government of bureaucracy, where experts, professionals, and civil servants would pull humanity toward the future. Instead of the examples of Washington and Jefferson, these “Progressives” looked to the writings of Hegel and Darwin.
Calvin Coolidge warned America that the direction of the Progressives was “backward…. They are reactionary.” Yet it took the New Deal and then the Great Society to awaken enough Americans to create a movement to return to our founding principles. From Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan to the Tea Party, this is a little modern history with a big call to action to join the movement to restore American principles.