America: The Story of Us … was it the Full Story?

Did you watch the first installment of the History Channel series, “America: the Story of Us”  last Sunday?

Given the theme of my blog, you can assume correctly that I’d been anticipating this show since they started promoting it a couple of months ago and in almost every way, I was not disappointed.  The show has a lofty goal … to give us a broad understanding of the entire history of the United States.  The producers even go so far as to tell us that they will be providing a copy of the DVD to every school in the nation.  That sounds like a good thing and really, it is a good thing.  Any form of entertainment that enhances the teaching of American history in our schools these days is welcome.

But, I have to qualify my enthusiasm for the show slightly.

I grew up in South Carolina and I was exposed to a heavy dose of South Carolina history in school.  I know for instance, that several major battles of the Revolutionary War took place in South Carolina.  At least two of these engagements were absolutely pivotal in the success of Patriot cause, but when an overview of the era is put together either on paper or on the screen, the importance … many times even the mere fact, of these crucial events is glossed over or completely omitted.

The fact is, that without the Patriot victories at Kings Mountain and then at Cowpens, Lord Cornwallis never faces a siege at Yorktown and Washington never has the opportunity to force his surrender there.  I realize that going into full detail about these victories would be more than time would allow, but there should at least have been some brief mention, given the momentous importance and the fact that Washington was not directly involved.

We all realize and appreciate that George Washington is the “Father of Our Country”.  We have been indoctrinated with this from an early age and I have no problem giving Washington his due.  I would in no way minimize his  enormous contribution as an American leader in war and peace.  Without Washington commanding our military, our country does not achieve its independence from England … at least not in the 1780s … and without him as our first President, our nation is probably just another failed experiment in democracy.

But the fact is, George Washington did NOT win the Revolution entirely on his own.  Not by long shot!  And this is the impression that school kids are going to get when they view the DVD of the initial episode of “America: The Story of Us” with their teachers.  Unless their teachers correct the perception, they are going to think that after six years of fighting, Washington finally ran Cornwallis down by himself and bottled him up in Yorktown with little or no help.

Mel Gibson at least tried to get it right when he directed and starred in that muddled fictional mess called “The Patriot”.  Heck, at least Mel acknowledged that a lot of important events took place in the South during the Revolution, even if he didn’t bother to portray them with any particular degree of accuracy.  Mel gets props for effort at any rate.

These complains aside, kudos to the producers of “America: The Story of Us.”  The first installment was tremendously entertaining.  The production values were wonderful and it was obvious that the producers went all out to give us a first-rate show.  I enjoyed it and I will certainly watch the rest of the series, but I will remain slightly skeptical that the full story of us is being portrayed and I will hope that kids watch the show and become inspired to investigate their country’s history in greater detail.

I know … good luck with that … right??

About Judson

Late bloomer ... aspiring writer and musician.
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9 Responses to America: The Story of Us … was it the Full Story?

  1. citizenwells says:

    I concur.
    My ancestry on both sides, English/Scots/Irish & German goes back to the early 1700’s in NC. My ancestor, John Wells , signed the Tryon Resolves.
    His house is still standing and is the oldest continually habitated house in Cleveland Co.
    It is close to the battlefield.
    We need to push revealing the complete, correct version of the American Revoluton and all history. Our schools are failing us in this regard.

    • Thanks for your comment! I have just started blogging and I was beginning to feel a bit lonely out here …

      Agree. I can’t find much evidence that history is being taught in our schools anymore. Sad.


    • Hello! I am kin to 10 or more of the signers (Costner, Dellinger, Carpenter, Price, to start with) and can’t find hide nor hair of a Robert Hulclip. Do you think, as I do, that that is not the real name of the person who signed? Is the first letter of the surname an H? Another list has Haselip. Anyone know?

  2. andergraph says:

    Agreed, we look at NC stating they will not be teaching the founding, nor founding fathers, absolutely amazing and ridiculous to say the least. There are so many stories of America that have been lost or forgotten and are screaming to be told and remembered. That was one reason we started the nonprofit Our History Project.

    Judson, don’t feel left out. True, as in your last line, of history not being taught in our schools and how do you encourage the average youngster with monotone academic writing that is force feed to them in a dissertation theme or gleaned over or not there at all. Most people forget that History is His Story and should be talked about and taught that way. It’s very easy for someone who is passionate, not only about history but loves to spin a good story. However for an employee that is making there time only it is a chore and a weight; something looks very wrong there right. And, its a problem that can be remedied easily – get someone who loves it to teach it or invite me in and I’ll show them what history is about, make it exciting and fun.

    No my friend, you are not alone in this, and we have an entire community that is with you. Thanks for posting on one of my blogs so I could find this one. I’ll stay in touch and keep reading.

    btw, we had family at Kings Mountain too.

    Craig Anderson

  3. Thanks Craig! I’ll book mark you as well.


  4. Care says:

    Thx for stopping by and commenting on one of my history book reviews. I have not had a chance to watch this America series yet. I’m sure it was extremely difficult to decide what to show and what had to be left out.

  5. Pingback: My Blog … 2010 in review | Footprints in the Sand …

  6. educlaytion says:

    Great post. I teach all of world history but Revolutionary America is my favorite. You’re right about South Carolina too. That’s why SC is the Palmetto State right? Those trees were effective defenses against incoming British cannonballs. I love this perspective as you combine history and pop culture. That’s kind of what I’m all about! Can’t wait to read more, and I’m glad I found you even though a little late. Glad you stuck with it 🙂

    • Judson says:

      Yep … Palmetto trees were abundant in and around Charleston harbor. The wood is very soft and spongy. Because the fort was built with these Palmetto logs and sand, it simply absorbed the cannon balls. In 1776 the British were unable to blow it apart even through hours of constant bombardment. They finally gave up, but they came back a few years later and took Charleston by seige from the land.

      — Judson

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