Liberty! The American Revolution
Directed by Ellen Hovde
Muffie Meyer
Produced by Ellen Hovde
Muffie Meyer
Written by Ronald Blumer
Music by Richard Einhorn

James Brown
Robert Elfstrom
Boyd Estus
Tom Hurwitz
Joel Shapiro

Joe Vitagliano
Edited by

Eric Davies
Donna Marino

Sharon Sachs
Distributed by Public Broadcasting Service
Release dates
November 23, 1997 (1997-11-23)-November 25, 1997 (1997-11-25)
June 21, 2004 - July 26, 2004
Running time
360 minutes
Language English

Liberty! The American Revolution is a six-hour documentary miniseries about the Revolutionary War, and the instigating factors, that brought about the United States' independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was first broadcast in 1997 and Re-release on June 21, 2004 to July 26, 2004.

The series consists of six hour-long episodes. Each episode is introduced by Forrest Sawyer and narrated by Edward Herrmann. Period photographs and location filming are intercut with stage and screen actors in appropriate period costume reading as figures of the time, including Campbell Scott (Thomas Jefferson), Philip Bosco (Benjamin Franklin), Alex Jennings (King George III), Roger Rees (Thomas Paine), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Joseph Plum Martin), Terrence Mann (Gen. John Burgoyne), Colm Feore (Alexander Hamilton), Sebastian Roché (The Marquis de Lafayette), Donna Murphy (Abigail Adams), Austin Pendleton (Benjamin Rush) and Peter Donaldson (John Adams). Stephen Lang read the words of George Washington, but is not seen on camera.

British and American historians, including Carol Berkin, Bernard Bailyn, Claude-Anne Lopez, Pauline Maier, Gordon S. Wood (U.S.) and Jeremy Black, Colin Bonwick, N.A.M. Rodger (U.K.) add historical background, interpreting events from the perspectives of the two sides of the conflict.


1. "The Reluctant Revolutionaries" (1763-1774): Introduction of the major players, the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, taxation without representation, The Boston Tea Party
2. "Blows Must Decide" (1774-1776): The Coersive/Intolerable Acts, military reinforcement of Boston, the first Continental Congress, Common Sense, The Declaration of Independence
3. "The Times That Try Men's Souls" (1776-1777): Formation of an army, the defense of New York, fall of New Jersey, The American Crisis, the Battle of Trenton
4. "Oh Fatal Ambition" (1777-1778): Burgoyne's incursion from the north, the war in New England, the Battle of Brandywine Creek, the Battle of Saratoga and Burgoyne's surrender
5. "The World Turned Upside Down" (1778-1783): The French alliance, the war in the south, the siege of Charleston, Cornwallis' strategy to conquer the south, the Battle of Yorktown, the British surrender
6. "Are We to Be a Nation?" (1783-1788): Creating the new nation, Washington resigns his commission, Shays' Rebellion, the Confederation Congress, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and formation of a central government

American singer-songwriter James Taylor sings the traditional song "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier" during the end credits. Original music was composed by violinist Mark O'Connor, who accompanies Taylor; the score, which blends new and traditional music, was performed by O'Connor, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, trumpet player Wynton Marsalis and Nashville Symphony. A collection of the music from the soundtrack was released as a companion album in 1997.

Liberty! was produced for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), and won a George Foster Peabody Award. The directors were Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, who also collaborated on the 2002 TPT production Benjamin Franklin.

External links

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