This book is part of a series devoted to teaching the story of liberty throughout history. Liberty means at least two things: having freedom to and having freedom not to. A goal of liberty is to provide maximum development of an individual’s capacity to be human, to love, to think, to choose to be charitable, to believe in God and follow a religion or not to, to start and run a business, to have a family or to choose not to. It is the freedom an individual has to live his life to its full potential. The story of liberty is as old as the human race, and for much of our world’s history, including today, the great majority of people have not lived in liberty. Only recently, within the last few hundred years, have some people enjoyed a great deal of this freedom.
In modern times, the United States of America has been the leader of liberty. This is why France gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States in the 1800s. It is why immigrants have come first to the United States of America, over other countries, since its inception in 1776. It is the reason that, even though the United States trails China and India in population by about 1.3 billion to 325 million, the U.S. has the greatest economy on Earth. Liberty is a universal idea that continues to fill the hearts and minds of people around the world.
The American Founding Fathers defined liberty in the American founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Like John Locke before him, Thomas Jefferson believed liberty rested on the principles that “all men are created equal,” and “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The founders believed that the rights of Americans rested on the idea that the Creator formed man with rights that no government had the authority to remove. God existed as the authority above government, above man, and the government was always subject to uphold and defend the rights given to man by the Creator. Jefferson and the other Founders fought Great Britain to establish a limited government so that individuals would have maximum freedom.
In the Constitution, liberty is defined in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, and the right to assemble. The founders were very concerned about freedom of political speech, meaning the right to campaign or financially support the candidate of one’s choice without limitation. They wanted to make sure that government would never become so strong that it would limit Americans’ ability to participate in politics. Regarding freedom of religion, the founders wanted to make sure the government would not enforce a state religion, however, at the same time, they wanted Americans to never be limited in their practice of religious worship. There are other important rights in the first ten amendments, such as the right to bear arms, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the main point of the Bill of Rights was to make sure that government would never take away the liberty of Americans.
The story of liberty is the story of Western Civilization. It begins with early man, develops over the centuries, and in many ways, it comes to fruition with the birth of America. In ancient times, most humans on Earth believed in many gods; leaders imposed unfair laws on their subjects; and life was short and miserable for those without power. Unfortunately, this remains the case in some places today. However, about 4,000 years ago, the Hebrews believed in one God, in justice, and in morality, regardless of the circumstance of one’s birth. Then, around 2,500 years ago, the ancient Athenians created democracy, the idea that citizens had the right to vote for their leaders and laws and not be subject to a king. At about the same time, the Romans established a republic. Citizens had rights the government had to respect. As the Roman Republic spread, liberty decreased. In 27 B.C., the Roman Empire arose and the liberties people had under the Roman Republic greatly diminished. However, within the Roman Empire, Jesus Christ established a new religious belief where God loved everyone in an equal manner. For the first time in history, a religion offered salvation to all people, not just people of a certain nationality or tribe. This religious understanding of equality under God was transformed over time into the idea that all people should be treated the same by the law. And thus, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “all men are created equal.”
The story of liberty in America has not been a perfect one. From 1776 to 1865, slavery was legal in half of the country. How could a person have liberty if he were owned by another person? In addition, women were not allowed to vote and did not have the same property rights as men. From 1861-1865, Americans fought their greatest war, the Civil War, which resolved this paradox of liberty and slavery. Though it took 89 years, the rights Jefferson spoke about in the Declaration of Independence finally did spread to all men, black and white. In addition, throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, the political rights of women expanded to be equal with men. However, liberty in America is still not perfect. It remains today an ideal that Americans strive for.
This volume of history is the story of liberty, specifically as it relates to American history. It traces the influence of ancient and medieval civilizations on the establishment and development of the United States of America through the Civil War. It is written with the hope that young Americans will appreciate the uniqueness of America as a leader of liberty. It is these young people who are called to further the cause of liberty within our country and throughout the world.
Author: John De Gree
Edited by: Michael Allen, Ph.D.
Publisher: The Classical Historian
Table of Contents: (Preface, and Introduction see below)
Preface, by Michael Allen, Ph.D., University of Washington, Tacoma
Unit One America’s Ancient Heritage
1. The Fertile Crescent
2. The Greeks
3. The Roman Republic
4. Western Civilization
Unit Two America’s Medieval Heritage
5. The Age of Barbarians
6. Civilizing Europe
7. Foundation of European Kingdoms
8. Development of Liberty in Medieval England
9. The Crusades
10. The Age of Exploration and Christopher Columbus
11. The Reformation and the Enlightenment
Unit 3 European Colonization of America
12. Native Americans
13. Spanish and French Colonies in America
14. Founding of American Exceptionalism: Jamestown and Plymouth Plantation
15. American Exceptionalism Takes Hold in the English Colonies
16. Life in the English Colonies
17. Southern Colonies
18. New England Colonies
19. The Middle Colonies
20. Early Indian Wars
Unit IV Founding of the U.S.A.
21. Early Causes of the American Revolution
22. Land Regulation, Taxes, and Conflict
23. Moving Toward War
24. The Beginning of the American Revolution
25. The Declaration of Independence
26. Defeat, Surprise, and Survival
27. The Articles of Confederation, 1777-1789
Unit V The Constitution
28. The Making of the American Constitution
29. Principles of the Constitution
30. Individual Rights
Unit VI Era of the Founding Fathers, 1787-1825
31. Ratification of the Constitution
32. The American People
33. Father of the Country
34. Presidency of John Adams (1797-1801)
35. The Supreme Court, Judicial Review, and Capitalism
36. Presidency of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
37. Presidency of James Madison (1809-1817)
38. The Era of Good Feelings
39. American Spirit and Industry in the Free North
40. Railroads, the Post Office, and the Politicization of News
41. The Missouri Compromise
Unit VII The Beginning of Big Government, 1825-1836
42. The Election of 1824 and the Presidency of John Quincy Adams
43. The Age of Jackson (1828-1835)
Unit VIII Empire of Liberty or Manifest Destiny, 1836-1848
44. Change in America: Industrialization, Religion, and Social Change
45. Education in Early America through the Civil War
46. The Southwest and the War for Texas Independence (1835-1836)
47. Presidencies of Martin Van Buren (1837-1841), William Harrison (1841), and John Tyler (1841-1845)
48. Presidency of James K. Polk (1845-1849) and the Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
49. The California Gold Rush and the Oregon Trail
Unit IX Sectionalism
50. The South
51. The North
52. Life in the West
Unit X The Slavery Crisis Becomes Violent, 1848-1860
54. Political Instability and the End of Westward Expansion
55. The Decade Preceding the Civil War
56. Abraham Lincoln
Unit XI The Civil War
57. The Election of 1860
58. Secession and the Confederate States of America
59. Fort Sumter and the War on Paper
60. Bull Run and the Beginning of the War
61. Growth of Government
62. The Emancipation Proclamation
63. Hard War
64. Unconditional Surrender Grant and Lincoln’s Reelection
65. The End of the War and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
66. Winners, Losers and Lasting Changes
Preface and Introduction
Preface by Mike Allen, Ph.D., University of Washington, Tacoma 2017
Young American history students and their teachers have long yearned for a book like the one you now hold in your hands. John De Gree’sThe Story of Liberty, From America’s Heritage through the Civil War, is a well-researched, ably-written, and sensible depiction of American history from the founding through the Civil War. What do I mean by “sensible”? Simply this: John relates the truth about the American past by telling about our many good qualities and accomplishments as well as the setbacks our nation has endured during its long history. Few books as good as this one have been published for young readers. At last we have a new, up-to-date book suitable for American middle school and high school history students.
When Larry Schweikart and I first published our #1 New York Times best-selling book, A Patriot’s History of the United States, we succeeded in filling a similar void existing in college-level American history books. Larry and I have often said that American history is not the story of, to use an old folk saying, a “half-empty cup.” Indeed, we argued that the American cup was nearly full. Americans have made great mistakes, but they have also done much that is good. American patriots in 1776 created a democratic republic governed by ordinary citizens at a time in history when absolutist monarchs ruled most of Europe, all-powerful Czars, Emperors, and Shoguns tyrannized Russia and the Far East, and some Middle Eastern and North African monarchs claimed divine authority and direct links to God. While it is true that Americans allowed the enslavement of African-American people, they ultimately fought a bloody war that ended slavery forever. While American soldiers killed native Indians and pushed them westward onto reservations, American diplomats signed legally binding treaties that those Indians’ descendants use to their great benefit in courts today. And while there has been poverty and suffering in our country’s history, it pales in comparison to that of the rest of the world. It is no accident that, for over 400 years, millions of foreigners have yearned and sought to become Americans.
John De Gree tells about this and much more in The Story of Liberty, From America’s Heritage through the Civil War. He traces our nation’s past from the time of the Pilgrims through the Colonial era and the American Revolution. He explains Jeffersonian and Jacksonian politics and the critical events leading to the Civil War. And he narrates the military and political history of that pivotal conflict. John has a unique way of telling the story of the United States. He places special emphasis on America’s place in the history of advancing Western Civilization. He begins with our classical roots and ties to ancient Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Western European institutions. Just as importantly, he accurately weaves the story of Christianity and Christian values into the American story. No truthful history of the United States of America can ignore this vital religious element.
I first met John De Gree nearly a decade ago when we collaborated on curriculum for the growing number of homeschool, charter, private, and public school students who utilize his Classical Historian method. I remain impressed with his intellect and work ethic, and the range of exciting, effective tools he offers modern students of American history and their teachers. I am confident The Story of Liberty, From America’s Heritage through the Civil War, will become a very successful textbook in educating a future generation of American patriots.
Michael Allen, Ph.D.
University of Washington, Tacoma, 2017
Larry Schweikart: In John DeGree's The Story of Liberty, written for ages 11 to young adults, America's foundations are traced from the Hebrews and the Judeo-Christian religious traditions to the Greco-Roman political traditions to the establishment of government in the English colonies in America. The Story of Liberty highlights---often with primary source documents such as the "Mayflower Compact" the first Thanksgiving Declaration, a section from the account of Paul Revere's ride---fleshes out the narration with easily-readable charts on such things as the differences between Republicans and Federalists or the size of early American cities.The book ends with Lincoln's assassination, and a second volume from 1865 to the present is planned. Loosely based on A Patriot's History of the United States by myself and Michael Allen (who did the foreword), The Story of Liberty strongly integrates the timeless principles of the sanctity of life, freedom of choice, government by representatives, trial by jury, division of power in government, and more. Strongly recommended.
Larry Schweikart, Ph.D., is co-author of #1 NY Times bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States of America, numerous top selling history books, and is a film producer of history documentaries.
“John De Gree has a unique way of telling the story of the United States. He places special emphasis on America’s place in the history of advancing Western Civilization. He begins with our classical roots and ties to ancient Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Western European institutions. Just as importantly, he accurately weaves the story of Christianity and Christian values into the American story… John relates the truth about the American past by telling about our many good qualities and accomplishments as well as the setbacks our nation has endured during its long history…Young American history students and their teachers have long yearned for a book like the one you now hold in your hands.”
—Michael Allen, Ph.D., co-author of the #1 New York Times best-selling book, A Patriot’s History of the United States. Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma and Editor of The Story of Liberty, America's Heritage Through the Civil War
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