Learn Liberty's America's Founding Videos

When celebrating on Independence day, do you ever stop to think about the incredible risks the Founders took when they rebelled against British authority? They were starting a war with the greatest military power of the time, when they did not have a mighty fighting force themselves. And they were fighting for a type of government that most people thought was impossible. Prof. Sarah Burns explains the importance of asking WHY they did what they did, as she will go on to explain in the following videos.

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When celebrating on Independence day, do you ever stop to think about the incredible risks the Founders took when they rebelled against British authority? They were starting a war with the greatest military power of the time, when they did not have a mighty fighting force themselves. And they were fighting for a type of government that most people thought was impossible. Prof. Sarah Burns explains the importance of asking WHY they did what they did, as she will go on to explain in the following videos
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In the decade before the revolution, British soldiers had started to act more like an occupying force than a source of security. Prof. Sarah Burns explains why this happened, and how increasing tensions between colonists and soldiers became one of the major reasons for declaring independence.
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The colonists got sick and tired of the increase in taxes and encroachment on their freedoms. It may have been the last straw. One major grievance colonists had against England is the one most people remember learning about in school: taxes. But the concern that radicalized the colonists was less about taxes per se, and more about power. In the decade before the revolution, Parliament passed a series of new, unprecedented taxes on colonists to try to pay down their debt from the French & Indian War. In doing so, they were claiming powers to directly tax and control the colonies in a way they had never done before. Prof. Sarah Burns explains how this was perceived as a pattern of steady encroachment on freedom, as colonists became afraid that these increased powers would become permanent.
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“Freedom is hard to keep and easy to lose. For that reason, when government starts encroaching, it’s incumbent on a people to fight back.” How did “No taxation without representation” become a rallying cry for war? It wasn’t just the actions of the British, but the political beliefs of the colonists that caused this reaction. Many colonists were influenced by the ideology of radical Whigs, a political movement that began in England years earlier. Prof. Sarah Burns explains radical Whig theory, and how it convinced many colonists that it was their moral duty to fight back against oppressive rule.
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“We as a free people, have the right to stand up to an oppressor.” The colonists didn’t just declare war-- they felt the need to justify themselves. Written in 1776, the Declaration of Independence asserted that as a free people they had the right to overthrow an unjust ruler-- a shocking idea at the time. In making this claim, they were influenced by the writings of philosopher John Locke, who was the second major ideological influence on the American colonists.
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So we’ve declared independence (AKA committed Treason), have a small military not ready for war, and want to start America… now what? In July 1776, the Founders really had their work cut out for them. Not only did they have to win a war against the greatest military of the time and avoid being hanged for treason, but if they succeeded in winning the war they had to figure out how to establish a new country, of a type that had never before existed: a large, democratic republic. Prof. Sarah Burns explains some of the challenges they faced, and why it’s important to reflect on those challenges today.
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