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Civics and Citizenship

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Geography: From Athens to America
Thanks, in part, to its unique geography, Athens is the birthplace of democracy, and one of the most successful city-states in all of Ancient Greece.
Stonewall Uprising: The Fight Against Oppression
The LGBTQ+ community took a stand in 1960s America. Discriminated against because of their sexuality and gender identity, they campaigned for a fairer, freer society in a time of social and political upheaval in America.
Is America Doing Enough To Go Green?
With global greenhouse gas emissions at record levels, and the future of Earth at stake, what are Americans doing to safeguard the planet for future generations? And what more can be done?
We Call BS! Why Guns Are Big News
Millions of Americans value their Second Amendment right to own and carry arms. However, after 17 students and staff were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School back in Florida in 2018 - students became the voice in the fight for gun law change. Meet Harvard University lecturer and author Caroline Light who explains why the gun control debate in America is louder than ever before.
The Battle of the Sexes
Although half of Americans are female, women make up just 25% of Congress. In fact, women have been treated unfairly in America since day one – but what are the causes of that inequality and what are the effects?
The History of Birth Control
The invention of the Pill in 1967 revolutionised birth control everywhere. But US scientists Gregory Pincus and John Rock weren't the first people to experiment with contraception – civilisations around the world have been doing it for centuries.
A Tale of Two Leaders
Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis led Americans in the American Civil War. Both men were born in Kentucky and led opposing sides. But what happened to them both once the war ended?
The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was the first ever document to cement equality into the founding principles of a nation. It helped to bring the colonies together during a national crisis, but it was by no means perfect.
Robert E. Lee: The Man Behind the Myth
He’s revered as the greatest Confederate general of them all, the personification of Southern loyalty, tradition and military strength. But there’s a lot more to the so-called ‘Marble Man’ than meets the eye. So, who was the real Robert E Lee?
Dueling Economies That Fueled the Civil War
Which economy was best for the country's future? The industrial economy of the North? Or the plantation system of the South? The stage was set for a financial fracas that would lead to the deadliest war in US history.
Dred Scott: Suing for Freedom
Dred Scott went to the US Supreme Court to sue for his freedom. The Court ruled that Black people were “inferior beings” with no Constitutional rights. This decision helped spark the American Civil War.
Industry & Supply: The Race to Get Civil War Soldiers Frontline Resources
Supplying almost three million soldiers with the food, clothes and resources they needed to fight the Civil War was no easy task. So which side proved most successful?
Japanese American Prison Camps on U.S. Soil
In 1942, at the height of the Second World War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorised the incarceration of approximately 110,000 Japanese-Americans in the American West. But was Executive Order 9066 a step too far?
The Secret Balloons that Bombed America
In 1944, Imperial Japan attacked the West Coast of America with hundreds of balloon bombs flown 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. They took the lives of five Oregon school children and their teacher – and remain a threat to this day.
Castle Bravo: The Largest Nuclear Explosion in US History
In 1954, the US Government conducted a series of secret nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands. The idyllic coral island Bikini Atoll became the epicentre of the largest nuclear test disaster in US history. The affects of radiation exposure and environmental destruction are still being felt by the Marshallese people today.
Lewis and Clark: the Making of an Expedition
Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery opened the American West up to expansion and settlement – but it all rested on the expert planning and preparation.
Wong Kim Ark's Fight for Birthright Citizenship
By taking on the US government and winning, Wong Kim Ark ensured that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution granted citizenship to every American by birth, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
How Puerto Rico Became a U.S. Commonwealth
Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. and is governed by federal law but its people are unable to vote in Presidential elections. Why does this US Commonwealth remain stuck in constitutional limbo?
Little Bighorn: Custer's Last Stand
The Battle of Little Bighorn, or Custer’s Last Stand, was a famous victory for the Native Americans in defense of their land. What are we to make of alleged lone survivor Frank Finkel’s story?
Anna May Wong: The First Chinese-American Hollywood Star
Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese-American leading lady, broke through racial barriers to change the face of cinema forever.
Dorothy Bolden: Unionizing Domestic Workers
Civil rights activist Dorothy Bolden made it her mission to empower America’s working class. Her activism empowered domestic workers across the nation – and created noticeable change in the workplace for thousands of Black women.
The Presidential Veto
One of the most powerful tools the President of the United States has is the veto - but what is it and how has it evolved over time?
Joint Chiefs
When the going gets tough, the president calls on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an advisory council to help make important military decisions.
State of the Union Address
The annual State of the Union Address is the only speech that the President delivers in person to the public and all three branches of government at the same time.
Edith Galt: The First Lady Who Took Control
Historically a ceremonial position, the role of First Lady at one point mainly involved hosting events at the White House. But when President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, his wife, Edith, covertly took on many of his duties as President of the United States.
Ghost Army
The WWII 23rd Headquarters Special Troops – otherwise known as the Ghost Army – was a top secret tactical deception unit deployed by the US Army during the Second World War to fool the enemy by any means necessary.
History of the Hashtag
Everyday, millions of people around the world use hashtags to sift through the Internet’s endless content – but where did this ubiquitous symbol actually come from?
Charles Curtis: Native American Vice President, Untold
In 1929, Charles Curtis – a member of the Kaw Nation – made history by becoming the first Vice President of color in the U.S. Yet he left behind a complicated legacy that some claim had a lasting negative impact on Native Americans.
Hawaiian Leis and the Selma to Montgomery March
The Selma to Montgomery March was one of the most important actions of the Civil Rights Movement – but what were the connections between Black Americans and Hawaiians and why did the leaders wear Hawaiian necklaces?
The Watergate Tapes
Installed in selected rooms at the White House on the President’s orders, this is the story of how a state-of-the-art recording system ultimately led to Richard Nixon’s downfall.
Branches of Government
The federal government of the United States of America is split into three separate and distinct branches. But what do the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary do and why are they necessary?
What are Unalienable Rights?
What are unalienable rights and why are they so important? In this video, we explore why Thomas Jefferson included them for the first time in the Declaration of Independence.
What is Common Sense?
It’s one of the most important documents in US history, but how did Thomas Paine’s 47-page pamphlet, Common Sense, turn the tide of the American Revolutionary War?
What are Economic Systems?
Different economic systems have been developed to meet the needs and wants of the citizens of a country or society. These systems have distinct advantages and downsides for producers, consumers, and governments.
What is the English Bill of Rights?
The English Bill of Rights curbed the power and influence of the English monarchy and gave more power to their subjects. It’s the basis for the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.
Back to Work: The Civilian Conservation Corps
In the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of Americans were recruited across the United States to protect and preserve the country's forests, parks, and fields. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a voluntary work relief program, was way ahead of its time.
Hoovervilles: Shantytowns of the Great Depression
As the Great Depression worsened in the 1930s, thousands of Americans lost their jobs and eventually their homes. Shantytowns dubbed “Hoovervilles” named after unsympathetic President Herbert Hoover, spread across the U.S.
Native American Boarding Schools: Forced Separation of Families
For over a hundred years, the U.S. government used education as a tool to assimilate Native American children into American society - by systematically erasing their history, culture, and language.
Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal
In the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt's progressive legislation, dubbed the Square Deal, aimed to limit the power of corporations, protect consumers, and conserve natural resources. The Square Deal drastically changed the United States – and still impacts our lives today.
The Haymarket Affair
One of the worst miscarriages of justice in U.S. history, the Haymarket Affair, a labor action in support of an eight-hour working day, led to the unlawful executions of four Chicago residents.
NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, aka NASA, has been at the forefront of science, technology, and space exploration since 1958. Its work remains an inspiration to millions of people around the world.
The Treaty of Ghent
After almost three years of bitter conflict, the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain came to an end with the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, but was the war a waste of time and resources?
U.S.S. Constitution
With a fleet of just 22 warships, it was never going to be easy for the U.S. Navy to defeat the mighty British Royal Navy during the War of 1812. The enemy didn’t expect its secret weapon – the U.S.S. Constitution.
White Propaganda
Often deployed by governments during times of crisis, white propaganda has a known source and simple slogans, and uses strong visuals to rally public opinion.
Gray Propaganda
A weapon of covert action wielded by governments around the world, gray propaganda straddles the fine line between fact and fiction, letting its secret sources instigate chaos without liability.
Social Security
When times get tough, Social Security provides a vital financial lifeline for U.S. citizens in need. But how did this revolutionary legislation come into being and what benefits does it provide?
The Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury, inspired by its first secretary, Alexander Hamilton, is responsible for managing the production of money and maintaining the crucial systems underpinning the financial infrastructure of the United States.
Election of 1912: Third Party
In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt's bold creation of a new political party, the Bull Moose Party, challenged rivals Taft and Wilson, forever altering the political landscape of the United States.
Henrietta Lacks' Revolutionary HeLa Cells
The astonishing story of Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells, taken without consent, revolutionized medical research but also exposed ethical dilemmas, leading to crucial changes in consent laws to protect patients' rights in the scientific community.
Prudence: Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson's prudence in orchestrating the Louisiana Purchase, despite constitutional concerns, doubled the size of the U.S., securing its position on the global stage.
Courage: Elizabeth Eckford
Elizabeth Eckford's lone walk to Little Rock High School, amid fierce protests, became a symbol of courage in the fight against racial segregation.
Hubris: Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr's ambition led him from political prominence to infamy. Fueled by hubris, he dueled Hamilton and plotted treason, showcasing the perils of unchecked pride.
Integrity: Schechter Brothers
In the 1930s, Jewish butchers the Schechter brothers showed integrity when they fought what they felt were unjust regulations, in order to uphold their faith and customer trust.
Public Spaces: The Birth of Nations
Public spaces are places for democracy. Open to everyone, and a space where people can gather, they could form a type of government where the people have ultimate power.
Age of Revolution: When Enough is Enough
In the late 1700s, three major revolutions changed the course of history in the name of freedom and equality. The Age of Revolutions bore witness to this change.
Could Veganism Save The World?
Veganism is sweeping the global. So why are more and more people deciding to cut all animal products from their diets – and why could doing so help to save the Earth?
What Makes A State A State?
At first there were 13 – now there are 50! But what gives each US state the power to control its own laws and when does federal law take over?
“You're Fired!” How To Get Rid Of The President
Impeachment is the process of removing the President from office. But what does it really take to get fired as Commander-in-Chief?
The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers were written by three of America's Founding Fathers, in an attempt to convince the American people that the Constitution should be ratified.
The Bill of Rights: Cornerstone of US Society?
Written by Founding Father James Madison in 1789, The Bill of Rights makes up the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Many people still consider the Bill of Rights to be the cornerstone of our society, but not everyone agrees.
The Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most important documents in US history. Issued at the height of the American Civil War, it granted freedom to enslaved people living in the eleven breakaway states of the Confederacy.
Country Music of Kentucky
This is the story of Route 23, known as the Country Music Highway that stretches across Eastern Kentucky, the home of some of America's greatest Country Music stars
The Articles of Confederation
Did you know that before the Constitution, there was another governing system in the US? The Articles of Confederation.
Wartime Elections
What is the effect of war on elections? Benjamin Franklin famously wrote: “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”, but he forgot one thing – Presidential elections!
When Russia Sold Alaska
In 1959, the United States officially welcomed Alaska into the family as the 49th state. But did you know that 100 years earlier, Alaska was actually part of Russian America?
Invoking The 25th Amendment
What happens when the President is no longer able to perform their duties? That’s when the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution comes into play.
The Anti-Masonic Party
Learn about the Anti-Masonic Party and how it challenged elitism at the highest echelons of US government.
The Underground Railroad
A sprawling network of secret routes, pathways and safe houses, the Underground Railroad helped countless enslaved people escape to freedom in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Coast to Coast: America's First Transcontinental Railroad
Before there were viral videos and trending hashtags, the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 was one of the first mass media events in US history. Behind the glitzy headlines of that historic day - there’s a darker story to be told.
The Origin of Earth Day Explained
On April 22, 1970, the US went climate crazy – as 20 million Americans took part in the very first Earth Day.
Ancient Greek Theater
Greece was home to hundreds of open-air arenas where citizens came together to discuss the important issues of the day. Like Broadway today, they were a place for both entertainment and important social commentary.
The Road to Athenian Democracy
What forms of government preceded democracy and how did this pave the way for the ancient Athenians to invent democracy?
Breaking Down the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. It guarantees all Americans basic freedoms – but those freedoms have always been under attack.
Women in Ancient Athens
The lives and rights of women in Greece, from a modern perspective, seem severely limited; yet, they played important roles in society.
Did a Book Spark the Civil War?
It was published nine years before a shot was fired. And was written by a woman. How did Uncle Tom’s Cabin fan the flames of the American Civil War?
The Gettysburg Address: The Two-Minute Speech That Saved America
It’s got fewer words than the average rap song, and takes less time to read than it does to boil an egg. So how did the Gettysburg Address inspire a global movement for democratic change that’s still shaping our lives today?
Emancipation Proclamation Exposed
The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most important and misunderstood documents in US history. So, what did it actually proclaim?
Civil War Amendments
Did you know that the US Constitution's most important amendments took place over just 5 years? So what happened between 1865 and 1870 – and how did it change America?
Women of the Civil War
Women weren’t just spectators of the American Civil War – they played a vital role in the home, the workplace, the battlefield and beyond.
War on the Water: Civil War Navies
The American Civil War wasn’t just fought on land – it took place on rivers and seas too. But the contrast between Union and Confederate navies could not have been more stark.
Frederick Douglass' Composite Nation
Abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass believed that the U.S. could become the greatest nation in history – if it accepted the defining principles set out in his speech, Composite Nation.
What is NATO?
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is a coalition of democratic capitalist countries from Europe and North America. It remains perhaps the single biggest deterrent against nuclear war today.
Pauli Murray: Breaking Barriers of Race and Gender
As a queer Black lawyer, poet and civil rights activist, Pauli Murray understood how our different identities can overlap to create multiple levels of discrimination. Her groundbreaking work in championing equality for all helped change America for the better.
The Story of the CIA
CIA agents make it their business to be intelligent. They may know more about you than you think. But what do you know about the CIA?
Muckrakers... or Investigative Journalists?
An essential part of any functioning democracy - the press helps to make governments accountable for their actions; but when the first investigative reporters started working in the United States, not everyone saw them as a good thing.
Martha Gellhorn: The War Correspondent who Covered D-Day
One of the United States’ finest war correspondents, Martha Gellhorn battled sexism and misogyny to report on the D-Day landings during the Second World War.
The Showdown: MacArthur v. Truman
History is packed with epic rivalries, but when U.S. President Harry S. Truman went up against Five Star General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War – there was only going to be one winner.
Mottos and Symbols
A motto is a saying that stands for what a person, an organization or a country believes in. The United States of America has had two mottos. Let’s learn what they are and what they mean.
Who was George Washington?
The story of George Washington’s life and legacy as father of our country.
Why did the Colonies Declare Independence?
In the late 1770s, U.S. patriots banded together to declare independence from Great Britain. But why did they want their independence and what kind of country did they want the United States to be?
Who Founded the Democratic Party?
It’s the oldest political party in the United States, but how was the Democratic Party formed and what contributions has it made to U.S. society since?
Marbury v. Madison: What is Judicial Review?
The U.S. Supreme Court decides if laws made in the United States violate the Constitution or not. It’s called judicial review and it’s a power that was granted to the Supreme Court by the Supreme Court itself – thanks to a landmark case in 1803, Marbury v. Madison.
Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate but Equal
Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the legal doctrine of “separate but equal”. It was a ruling that enabled many states to enact racial segregation laws for decades to come.
Congressional Investigations
Congressional Investigations have uncovered some serious wrongdoing over the past 200 years. But where does Congress get the power to conduct investigations and how has it used that power throughout U.S. history?
Department of Transportation
The Department of Transportation ensures the equitable and safe transport of goods and people along our roads, railways, skies, waterways and airspace. So, why did it take so long to come into existence?
Propaganda is information designed to influence people’s opinions and actions, but how do governments use it as a covert action to elicit a response?
Department of Commerce
The Department of Commerce is one of the largest, most powerful of U.S. government agencies. Its mission? To “create the conditions for economic growth and opportunities for all communities.”
The Pentagon Papers: Explained
The Pentagon Papers revealed how the U.S. government had lied to the public about its involvement in the Vietnam War. Leaked by the New York Times, this opened the door for future whistleblowers to expose the truth.
Election of 1948: The Underdog
The suspenseful 1948 presidential election exposed the consequences of flawed polls, as Truman's astonishing victory upended expectations and forever changed how pollsters make predictions.
Afong Moy
Afong Moy is believed to be the first Chinese woman to step foot on U.S. soil and her presence sparked an American fascination with Chinese culture, but her experience in the United States was far from welcoming.
Sarah Winnemucca
The first Indigenous woman to publish a memoir, Paiute educator and activist Sarah Winnemucca campaigned tirelessly for the rights of Indigenous Americans.
Dishonor: Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold's once-valiant reputation soured as he betrayed the American Revolution for greed. His name now represents dishonor and the dangers of lost trust.
Mediterranean World: Inspiring America's Democracy
Discover how 3,000 years ago the Ancient Mediterranean World improved the life of the people through trade and the sharing of customs, knowledge and ideas.
Civic Engagement: Power to the People
Democracy was born when the Athenian government transitioned from the “rule of a few” to the “rule of many”, around 3,000 years ago.
Designing the Constitution: Learning from our Ancestors
How the Founding Fathers used the experiences of other democratic societies to inform the US Constitution.
Slavery in Democracies: The Greatest Hypocrisy
How could democratic societies claim to support equality while holding humans in bondage? The legacy of slavery tests the democratic ideal that everyone has an equal right to freedom and self-governance.
1619: The Legacy of Slavery in America
1619 was a significant year in the history of America for better and for worse. In Jamestown, Virginia the first slaves were imported and sold. Meet Nikole Hannah-Jones; author of New York Times' "1619 Project" who will examine the impact of that year on American History, culture and development.
Never Again Action: Young Jews Against ICE
In June 2019, reports of immigrant children detained in cages on the US-Mexico border stunned America. Meet the extraordinary, Jewish people working in peaceful protest to demand change from the ICE.
GI Jane: What I Loved About Serving in the Army
Selective Service may only apply to young men but more women than ever are entering the US military. Meet Lesley-Ann Crumpton, a former Captain in the US Military Police who will explain more about her life and what inspired her to do her part.
Are You Being Spied On?
Should the US government be allowed to spy on its citizens to protect society as a whole? There are arguments for and against – but the Big Brother state isn't a conspiracy theory, it's real!
Get Schooled! How the Electoral College Works
It's a system that's unique to the United States of American – but exactly is the electoral college, how does it work and what part does it play in our democracy? Discover more about the group of "electors" who have the final say.
Fighting for LGBTQ Rights: Is the United States Really United?
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution allows each state to set its own laws. That's meant that in Colorado, LGBTQIA+ rights have often been repressed. Meet the students at William J. Palmer High School who took their school district to court - and won!
The Battle of Middle Creek
The Battle of Middle Creek took place in Floyd County on January 10, 1862, but why was it so important to the legacy of the American Civil War and the history of the USA?
The Bill of Rights: What is it and What Rights does it Guarantee?
The right to stand up for what we believe in is as American as apple pie and is protected under US law by the Bill of Rights: a list of ten amendments to the US Constitution that almost never existed.
All Men are Created Equal? The Founding Fathers' Views on Slavery
What did the Founding Fathers really think of slavery? And how did that impact the laws they created?
Bright Lights, Gritty City
In the space of just 40 years, the majority of Americans packed their bags for a new life in the city. So what brought on this seismic shift from rural to urban dwelling? And what was the fallout?
The Chinese Massacre Explained
The Chinese Massacre of 1871 was the deadliest lynching in U.S. history – wiping out 10% of LA’s immigrant Chinese population in the space of just a few hours.
What is a Citizen? From Ancient Athens to the US
Citizenship allows people to participate in the democratic process, but the road to inclusive citizenship has not been a smooth one.
Voting in Ancient Athens
The United States is a representative democracy where people vote for politicians to govern on their behalf – but voting in the direct democracy of ancient Athens was a very different process.
Democratic Symbols
In ancient Athens, symbols were used to promote religious and democratic ideals and beliefs. Thousands of years later these symbols helped to define the United States.
What is The Constitution?
How has the U.S. Constitution endured when it was created over 200 years ago? Why is it still the supreme law of the land today?
Remembering the Civil War
No two Americans had the same experience of the Civil War – and everyone remembers it differently. Through the stories they told – and the artifacts that survived – various narratives emerged!
Civil War Tactics: Shooting as Many as Possible
The Greeks fought in phalanx formation. In medieval times, they preferred the wedge. So what made Civil War armies fight in long, straight lines that left them wide open to attack?
The New South: After Reconstruction
After the American Civil War, the American South attempted a rebrand. But would it accept the progressive social and political changes of the Reconstruction Era?
Civil War Innovation & Technology
It was the most destructive conflict in US history – but the American Civil War also saw the emergence of new technologies and innovations born from a will to win.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
The Lincoln Douglas Debates of 1858 were some of the most controversial in US history. Having deepened the divide between North and South – they helped bring the nation to war.
The Story of American Barbecue
Today, barbecue is a big part of American culture. But did you know that this staple of the great American menu is actually older than the United States itself?
The Invisible Plight of Poor Southern Whites
For many poor White families in the Antebellum South, slavery did not pay – so why did the ruling elite erase their narrative from the history books?
Horse-Riding Librarians
The Pack Horse Library Initiative saw hundreds of female librarians cross the Appalachian Mountains to deliver books to those in need.
Plague and Prejudice: The Black Death in California
As the world grapples with new pandemics, what can we learn from the US’s mixed response to the Bubonic Plague, which arrived in San Francisco in 1900?
The 442nd: The Most Decorated Regiment of the Second World War
Despite the racism they faced, the bravery and heroism of the Japanese American 442nd Regiment Combat Team made them one of the most decorated units in United States history.
David Pharaoh Asserts Indigenous Rights
Montaukett leader David Pharaoh fought for indigenous land rights – and established a lasting legacy as the founder of America’s first Montaukett school.
Joseph Henry Douglass: Changing America With Music
Classical violinist Joseph Henry Douglass helped empower the Black community through music and education at a time when Southern lawmakers were pushing back against the progress of Reconstruction.
The Lavender Scare
The Cold War persecution known as the Lavender Scare barred members of the LGBTQ+ community from working for the federal government for decades.
The Secrets of the Zimmermann Telegram
The Zimmermann Telegram, a secret message from Germany to Mexico during the First World War, ended the United States’ neutrality and sealed the fate of the Central Powers.
Building the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a vital trade route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Its fascinating story goes back hundreds of years.
Judy Heumann: The Mother of ADA
Teacher Judy Heumann dedicated her life to fighting for disability rights and was one of the architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), changing U.S. society forever.
The Harlem Cultural Festival: Soul Time
The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, also known as Black Woodstock, was a watershed moment for Black culture in America - that history almost forgot.
Emma Goldman: Radical Activist
Anarchist Emma Goldman, once named the most dangerous woman in America by the FBI, left behind a complicated legacy. But who was this young radical and what did she believe in?
Amending the Constitution
The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times in its history, but what did they change, and how?
Speaker of the House
As the head of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House is one of the most important roles in the United States government.
President's Cabinet
The President’s Cabinet is made up of the most important people in the Executive Branch of government. But who are they and what are their roles?
Vice President
POTUS gets the big house, the fancy cars, and all the attention. But there’s someone in the background who deserves respect. Let’s give it up for the VP!
Gerald Ford: The Unelected President
Gerald Ford holds a unique place in the history of U.S. politics – as the only American to hold the office of Vice President and President without ever winning a national election. Who was he, and what was his presidency like?
The Day the River Caught Fire
When Time magazine published details of a river fire in downtown Cleveland in 1969, the outcry was so loud and widespread, the U.S. government was forced into action.
Sandra Day O’Connor: “Don’t Take the Bait”
The first female justice in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 191-year history, Sandra Day O’Connor succeeded in a man’s world by never letting sexism stand in her way.
The Untold Know Nothings
In the mid 19th century a new political party, the Know Nothings, set the stage for xenophobia and nationalism to take root in American politics.
The Botched Invasion: Bay of Pigs
One of the Cold War’s only violent actions, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 proved to be a humiliating defeat for the U.S. government.
What is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day takes place every year on the last Monday of May to honor and remember members of the armed forces who fought and died for the United States.
What is Patriot Day?
Patriot Day takes place every year on September 11 to honor and remember the first responders, and those who lost their lives, on 9/11.
How did a statue help win the fight for independence?
It was erected in New York as a symbol of English King George III’s grip on the North American colonies. So how did a metal statue help American Patriots win the Revolutionary War? David Rubenstein answers that question in a fact-filled history minute.
Who were the Navajo code talkers of the Second World War?
Most secret codes developed during the Second World War used letters and numbers to convey hidden messages. So how did Navajo code talkers use their language to outwit the Nazis? David Rubenstein answers that question in a fact-filled history minute.
Forced Removal to Mexico: Repatriation Drives
During the Great Depression, the U.S. government detained and deported almost 2 million Mexican American citizens and people of Mexican descent, in an initiative known as the Repatriation Drives.
Building the Erie Canal: Explained
The earliest major industrial project in the United States’ history, the Erie Canal connected East to West by water and enabled a new era of commerce, trade, and movement.
The Culper Spy Ring
With the Patriots at risk of defeat by the British during the American Revolution, Continental Army Commander George Washington relied on the Culper Spy Ring for timely and accurate information about the enemy's intentions.
Puppy Diplomacy and the Cold War
In 1961, a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to President John F. Kennedy, the adorable pooch Pushinka, brought the men closer together. Did puppy diplomacy prevent an all out nuclear war?
Josephine Baker: Actor, Singer, Spy
Actor and singer Josephine Baker spent her life resisting racial discrimination at home and abroad. During World War II, she bravely used her fame to fight back against the Nazis.
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent federal agency dedicated to the preservation of historic government records. With storage facilities across the United States, NARA's contents give us an insight into our country's history.
Civil War Female Spies
In a world traditionally dominated by men, female spies took advantage of gender stereotypes to go unnoticed and gather information during the U.S. Civil War.
Department of the Interior
Many government departments have a focused mission, but the Department of the Interior is known as the "Department of Everything Else." So what are its responsibilities and how does it keep our country in check?
The Battle of New Orleans
After three years of bitter fighting between the United States and Great Britain, the War of 1812 concluded with the Treaty of Ghent. At least, it should have, because one final battle was about to be fought: the Battle of New Orleans.
War on the Lakes
If the U.S. Navy was to defeat the British during the War of 1812, it would not do so on the open seas. The battles that raged on the Great Lakes, however, would have a huge impact on the outcome of the war.
Black Propaganda
A weapon of covert action wielded by governments around the world, black propaganda straddles the fine line between fact and fiction, letting its secret sources instigate chaos with impunity.
Propaganda Today
In the digital age, it’s never been easier for governments to influence our opinions and actions using propaganda. So what does propaganda actually look like in the 21st century – and how effective is it?
Shirley Chisholm: Confronting the Political Machine
As the first Black woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm made history in her lifelong struggle to empower minorities and change the United States.
Election of 1800: Presidential Tie
The 1800 Presidential Election, which ended in a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Burr, presented Congress with a dilemma – how to stop a tie from happening again.
Election of 1860: A Nation, Torn
The Presidential Election of 1860 proved the most divisive in U.S. history, with the election of Abraham Lincoln triggering the secession of Southern states. But how did it play out at the polls?
Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori: A Prince Enslaved
Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, a Fula prince and former slave, was determined to free his family. His extraordinary story and character caught America's attention at a complicated time in American history.
Mary Ann Shadd Cary: Antislavery Activist
The first Black newspaper editor in the history of the United States, Mary Ann Shadd Cary spoke out to champion the cause of freedom in an era when the voices of African Americans were rarely heard.
Ernestine Rose
A pioneering suffragette and free thinker, Ernestine Rose was way ahead of her time. Described as the “first Jewish feminist”, she used her voice to campaign for women’s rights and improve the lives of millions.
Injustice: Roger Taney
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney's unjust majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford shockingly declared Black individuals weren't citizens, solidifying slavery's grip and pushing the nation closer to Civil War.
Responsibility: Clara Barton
Clara Barton's unwavering responsibility led her from establishing free schools to founding the American Red Cross, exemplifying how individual dedication can fortify a nation.
Art as Activism: Statements of Democracy
Art is a powerful democratic tool because it can inspire emotion and empower people to take direct action to achieve a social or political goal.
How The Census Changed America
A nationwide head count of all those who live in the United States, the US Census takes place every ten years. It shows us how society constantly changes – but it also took decades of struggle for every person in America to count.
Standing Up To ICE: How Young People Are Protesting For A Fairer America
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a government agency that tracks and apprehends illegal aliens. But when its officers caged children on the Mexico border, young people stood up for change.
Hotboxing History: Is The United States Really United?
Have you ever wondered why cannabis is legal in some states but not others? It all goes back to the US Constitution – and another disagreement between the Founding Fathers.
How Prostitution Built The Wild West
Putting the "wild" into Wild West, prostitution was big business in frontier communities – and gave the so-called "soiled doves" who controlled the industry wealth and influence as America grew.
Women of the American Revolution: The Real Unsung Heroes
During the American Revolutionary War some American women disguised themselves as men in order to join the fight, and played a critical role both on the home front and on the battlefield.
Ulysess S Grant: Profile of a Leader
In 2020, a statue of former US President Ulysses S Grant was toppled by Black Lives Matter protesters. A Civil War hero who helped bring about an end to slavery, he was a controversial figure too.
The Harlan County Coal Wars
Harlan County coal miners in the 1930s went on a labour strike protesting about the conditions. Coal companies and the local police forces put them under. It broke out into civil unrest and Unions were established.
Common Sense: Democracy in Print
We’ve all seen our fair share of American political ads in recent years. But the very first? That could be Common Sense - written by Thomas Paine – an 18th century pamphlet designed to incite rebellion!
The United Colonies of America: More Diverse Than You'd Think
Despite their many differences, the North American colonies eventually came together as one country – the United States of America. It’s that acceptance of other cultures, other ideas, other people, that makes us truly American.
The Ten Crucial Days that Changed the American Revolutionary War
Did you know that little over a year into the American Revolutionary War, the US army had been reduced to just 3,000 men? But over ten crucial days, all of that changed thanks to one man: George Washington.
America's Two-Party System
The United States is essentially a two-party system, unlike other democracies around the world where people can vote for political parties representing many different interests. Is that a good or a bad thing?
Y2K: Countdown to Catastrophe
Learn about the Y2K bug crisis that led millions to believe at the dawn of the millennium that computers around the world would crash, causing the end of civilization.
Race in Ancient Greece
We often think of ancient Greek society as White, but it was a lot more diverse than we give it credit for.
Paying for the Civil War
It cost the equivalent of billions of dollars in today’s money, and left the US government crippled with debt. But how, exactly, did America pay for the Civil War?
Lives of the Enslaved During the Civil War
How did life change for enslaved people as the American Civil War raged around them?
The First Allies of the Revolution
The United States’ first true allies, the Oneida Tribe helped the Patriots to win the American Revolutionary War – but at what cost?
The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe
Famous American author Edgar Allan Poe’s haunting death may have been a result of cooping, a violent form of voter fraud practiced in the 19th century.
Helen Keller's Watch
Deafblind pioneer Helen Keller campaigned for a better America – with the help of a remarkable watch that she didn’t have to see to read.
Exodus of Cuba's Children
Operation Pedro Pan saw more than 14,000 children escape Communist Cuba for a new life in the United States. But for many, their troubles were only just starting.
Dirty Thirties
The Dirty Thirties refers to the worst man-made ecological crisis in US history – when irresponsible farming habits, drought and storms led to "black blizzards" that took the lives of thousands and left many homeless.
Tuskegee Airmen
The Tuskegee Airmen, otherwise known as the Red Tails, were the first all Black air squadron in U.S. history. Their bravery and skill during the Second World War is legendary.
Harvey Milk: Leading the Way
Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official, was assassinated in 1978. His pioneering campaign for LGBTQ+ rights paved the way for more members of the community to serve in government.
Louis Brandeis: The First Jewish Supreme Court Justice
Louis Brandeis was the first Jewish associate justice to serve on the US Supreme Court. His appointment changed the legal landscape forever.
Patsy Mink: Groundbreaking Congresswoman
What do you think of when you picture Title IX? Inequality has plagued America’s youth for generations. Patsy Mink, a then young Japanese-American, vowed to change the system forever.
Congressional Whip
A Congressional Whip works with the party’s leadership in Congress to make sure everyone follows the agenda and votes together. They’re the muscle – the enforcer in a smart suit.
Oath of Office
Promises might just seem like words, but in the legal system and government, they’re crucial. Oath of Office is part of a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.
The Notorious RBG
One of the most recognizable justices on the U.S. Supreme Court - Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent her career fighting for women’s and civil rights, helping to change the United States of America for the better.
Juneteenth Explained
Also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth celebrates the resilience of Black Americans and the historic achievement of abolition itself. But how did it come about?
The Blowouts
In 1968, thousands of Latino students walked out of school in Los Angeles to protest against racial inequality in the classroom. Their collective action, known as the Blowouts, was a defining moment of the Chicano Movement.
What is the Magna Carta?
It was written over 1,000 years ago, and commissioned by an English King – so what makes the Magna Carta one of the most important documents in US history?
What is Medal of Honor Day?
Medal of Honor Day takes place every year on the 25th of March. It celebrates brave U.S. military service people who went above and beyond to protect our way of life.
Who was Daniel Webster?
Lawyer, orator and politician, Daniel Webster was one of the United States’ most famous and accomplished people in the 19th century. But what made him so special and how did he help change America?
What is the Mayflower Compact?
A short agreement by the Pilgrims and other colonists on board the Mayflower set in motion a system of government that inspired our country’s founding documents.
What are the Different Forms of Government?
Every country on Earth is run by some form of government – but there are many different kinds, from autocracies and oligarchies to direct and representative democracies.
Miranda v. Arizona: What are your Miranda Rights?
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Miranda rights are an essential part of any lawful arrest, thanks to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that changed the course of policing.
Korematsu v. United States: Was Internment Legal?
Korematsu v. United States was a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision made in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It established that the U.S. government could intern Japanese Americans during WWII as a result of Executive Order 9066.
Mapp v. Ohio: Illegal Search and Seizure
Mapp v. Ohio was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that safeguarded the Fourth Amendment right to privacy after a Cleveland woman was wrongly convicted following an illegal search of her home.
In re Gault: Juvenile Rights
In re Gault was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that ensured juveniles accused of a crime would receive the same Fourteenth Amendment rights as adults. It all stemmed from a teenager making a prank call.
What is the 4th of July?
Independence Day takes place every year on the 4th of July. It celebrates the day that the Founders of the United States declared their independence from Great Britain.
What is Constitution Day?
Constitution Day takes place every year on September 17. It celebrates the written document that outlines the rights and freedoms of U.S. citizens.
The Burning of Washington
During the War of 1812, British forces stormed into Washington, D.C. and set fire to the White House and other federal buildings. Rather than dent U.S. morale, the sacking of Washington served to galvanize the population against the British.
The Battle of Fort McHenry
The War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain ultimately ended in stalemate, but in the aftermath of one U.S. victory, a poem was penned that would become the new nation’s national anthem.
Angela Davis
Despite being on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list, Angela Davis went on to become an international symbol of resistance against social injustice.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Founded by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, the Department of Agriculture safeguards farming standards and boosts rural development through a series of progressive programs.
Election of 1876: Testing the Constitution
The Presidential Election of 1876 was considered a foregone conclusion, with Democrat Samuel J. Tilden sure to defeat Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, but disputed Southern electoral votes led to an outcome that nobody predicted.
Susan La Flesche Picotte: The First Female Native American Doctor
At a time when many Native Americans were refused healthcare by racist White doctors, Susan La Flesche Picotte overcame gender discrimination to become the first Indigenous woman in U.S. history to earn a medical degree.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy: Activist for Transgender Rights
Present at the Stonewall Uprising of 1959, pioneering transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy lived through the HIV/AIDS epidemic to fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States and beyond.
Atlantic World: New World, New Possibilities
Paving the way for modern democratic society, the ancient Mediterranean world traded goods and ideas across three continents over thousands of years.
What is the Significance of 1619?
The year 2026 marks the bicentennial of a landmark year in US history – when the first European women and enslaved people arrived on North American soil, and US democracy was born.
America: Nation of Immigrants
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..." It's true that the United States has always been a nation of immigrants, but as the debate around border control becomes louder and more polarised, will we be in the future?
Your Country Needs You! The Selective Service System
In peaceful times, the US Armed Forces are well stocked with brave men and women who voluntarily sign up to serve. But in the event of a third catastrophic global conflict, it is possible for the US government to rapidly recruit from the civilian population, thanks to the Selective Service System.
Is Now The Time to Talk About Guns?
Gun control in the United States has been a loaded term for decades. So who is favour of the Second Amendment – and who is fighting back against it?
Who has the Right to Vote in the United States?
Puerto Ricans pays taxes but can't vote in Presidential Elections. While in Chicago, between 2006 and 2016, 199 dead voted from beyond the grave! So how does voting law really work in the United States?
Can America's War on Drugs Ever Be Won?
As our understanding of the consequences of drug abuse has improved, so America’s relationship with drugs has changed. From Nixon to Trump, the so-called 'War on Drugs' has cost the US government billions – but will there ever be an end in sight?
The Rosenbergs: First Civilians Executed for Espionage
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were the first US citizens to be convicted and executed for sharing government secrets during peacetime. Were they innocent?
The Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was short-lived, but the role that it played in helping America to become an independent democracy can never be forgotten.
The US Constitution
We all know what the US Constitution is – but do you know its origins story? Let’s delve into history and discover more about the most document in US history.
Language of the Revolution
Did you know that hipsters were a thing back in the 18th century and were known as Macaroni? Our ancestors liked to get creative with language: especially in the world of politics.
America's First President: Setting Precedents
Did you know that George Washington didn’t want to become the first US President? Despite his reluctance, he set many precedents which remain pillars of the office today.
The Supreme Court: Gatekeeper of the Constitution
Ever wonder why a new appointment to the Supreme Court is such big news? Of the three branches that make up the Federal Government, it’s arguably the judiciary – the courts system – that has the greatest impact upon our lives.
The Citizen Soldier
With the first shots of the American Revolution, they downed tools and ran to help in the fight for independence. This is the story of the ordinary people who helped found a nation.
The Gilded Age: When America Became a Superpower
Learn about the Gilded Age, a period of immense social and industrial change in US history.
Shots Fired! Why Being President is a Deadly Job
Of all the Presidents who have held office since the foundation of the United States, four were gunned down by assassins. This is their story.
The Havasupai Project Explained
When the Havasupai tribe became the subject of a medical trial in the 1990s, their DNA was covertly used for scientific testing that participants had not consented to. Thirteen years later the secret was discovered and the tribe filed a lawsuit against the researchers.
Manhattan Project Human Experiments
When scientists at the top secret 'Manhattan project' wanted to discover how radioactive bomb materials could affect the human body – they secretly injected terminally ill patients with uranium to find out.
The Tulsa Race Massacre Explained
It was one of the deadliest terror attacks in US history. So why wasn’t the Tulsa Race Massacre properly taught in US schools until 2019?
Elections in the United States
How do elections actually work?
Black Soldiers and the Fight for Citizenship
For those enslaved, it was the perpetrator of countless horrors. So why did almost 200,000 African-Americans put their lives on the line to preserve the United States?
Choosing Sides: Native Americans and the Civil War
What about the Native Americans who found themselves stuck in the middle of the Civil War – why did they fight for both sides?
Reconstruction: Old Nation or New?
Reconstruction was one of the most tumultuous periods in US history. After four years of Civil War, not everyone agreed on the best way forward. The result was 12 years of violence and political strife.
Civil War Hospitals
The medical hospitals established during the American Civil War helped save thousands of lives – and change how the US military cares for troops to this day.
Animal War Heroes
Animals aren’t just cute – during times of war, they’ve proven to be immensely useful. Some have even been awarded with prestigious medals for helping to save lives.
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's Pursuit of Absolute Equality
This film is about the most important events of Watkins Harper’s early life, highlighting her early achievements as a writer.
The Unusual Presidency of William Taft
One-term Presidents are often overlooked – but what makes William Taft’s time in office memorable is the fact that it was defined by a series of unusual firsts.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Constructed after the First World War, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier stands as a memorial to all those U.S. service members whose remains were never identified.
Dolores Huerta: "Yes we can!"
The brains behind the political slogan “Yes we can!”, Mexican-American labor leader Dolores Huerta fought for the rights of immigrant workers in the 1960s.
Edith Maude Eaton: Fostering Cultural Understanding Through Writing
In a time when Chinese immigrants in America faced discrimination in all walks of life – simply because of their race – author Edith Maude Eaton channeled the power of the pen to help make positive change.
Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is one of the most powerful politicians in America – but where does their power come from and what are their roles and responsibilities?
The Secret Service
They’re the shadowy agents who keep the President safe – but what is the Secret Service and why was it formed?
Executive Order
What actual powers does the President have? Well, as it turns out – a lot. Including the power to make new orders at the stroke of a pen.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
The top ranking officer of the US federal judiciary, the Chief Justice presides over the US Supreme Court. But how did the role come into being and what are his or her roles and responsibilities?
The Attorney General
The top legal officer in the country, the Attorney General advises the US government on legal matters, including the President. But how did the role come about and what are his or her responsibilities?
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is a fact-finding, crime-fighting national security machine. But how did it come about – and what do FBI agents actually do?
Department of Justice
Established in 1870, the Department of Justice not only provides legal advice to the US government, it also ensures the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
Prohibition: Capitol Hill Secret
While Prohibition made it to illegal to sell, transport or make alcohol in the United States, the top brass in the US Congress were able to stay well-lubricated – thanks to the nefarious work of famed bootlegger, George Cassiday.
Robber Barons or Captains of Industry?
The Gilded Age was a period of unprecedented industrial and economic growth in the United States – but were the men at the helm captains of industry or robber barons out for their own?
The History of the Rainbow Flag
The rainbow flag is one of the most recognisable symbols in the world, synonymous with tolerance and LGBTQ+ rights. But how was it created?
Who was Benjamin Franklin?
Benjamin Franklin wasn't just a founder of the United States, he was also a writer, inventor, scientist, statesman, and a huge celebrity in the thirteen colonies.
WWII POW Camps on U.S. Soil
Between 1942 and 1946, the U.S. government constructed around 700 POW camps on U.S. soil, housing around 400,000 captured enemy soldiers. But what were the conditions like there?
Madeleine Albright's Brooches
The U.S.’s first female Secretary of State used her collection of brooches to get her point across when meeting with foreign leaders, a practice that became known as “Pin Diplomacy.”
The Pledge of Allegiance
All across the United States, its citizens regularly stand, with hands on heart, to make the Pledge of Allegiance. But what is it, what does it mean and why is it so important?
What is Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
MLK Day takes place every year on the third Monday of January. It's a time to celebrate the life and work of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who brought Americans together in the name of racial equality.
What is Veterans Day?
Veterans Day takes place every year on November 11 to honor the bravery and sacrifice of all those men and women who fought and died for their country, during war and peacetime.
Who Founded the Republican Party?
In the United States’ two-party system, the Republican Party competes with the Democratic Party for political power. But when was it formed and how has it changed over the years?
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier: Free Speech in School
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to free speech. But when student journalists in Missouri wrote a series of articles on teen sex and divorce in 1983, their school appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to censor the content – and won.
James Lafayette: Revolutionary Spy
Born enslaved, James Lafayette became one of the most important Patriot spies of the American Revolution, helping to gather vital information on the British Army. His work helped the United States secure independence.
Tammany Hall: Controlling New York Politics
It is the historic New York building that is synonymous with greed, crime and corruption, but what is the true story behind Tammany Hall?
Who was Deep Throat?
Codenamed Deep Throat, FBI chief William Mark Felt, Sr., displayed immense courage to expose abuses of power at the heart of government during the infamous Watergate investigation.
Department of Homeland Security
Established in 2002, the Department of Homeland Security might be the youngest of all the federal government’s departments, but its work to safeguard “the American people, our homeland, and our values” couldn't be more important.
The Federal Election Commission
How do you know that the politicians you vote for will represent your interests in office – and not those of powerful corporations? Well, there’s a law for that, and an independent regulatory agency: the Federal Election Commission.
What Caused the War of 1812?
The War of 1812 was a major conflict between the United States and Great Britain for control of the Northern Frontier. Often described as the second war of independence, in reality it was caused in large part by the ineffective foreign policies of two U.S. Presidents.
The Federal Reserve
Born from a series of financial crises in the 20th century, the Federal Reserve, or Fed, controls monetary policy in the United States to ensure economic growth through maximum employment and fair pricing.
Election of 1824: When the House Chose
In the Presidential Election of 1824, five men from one party were up for the job. It was left to the House of Representatives to figure out a winner – and the aftermath led to the modern two-party system.
Wilma Mankiller
Wilma Mankiller, a Native American activist who became the first female chief of her tribe, dedicated her life to the Cherokee Nation and the expansion of Indigenous rights.
Yuri Kochiyama: Unyielding Voice for Justice
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, thousands of Japanese-Americans were interned on U.S. soil. Determined to right this wrong, Yuri Kochiyama testified to Congress and helped those affected win $20,000 in compensation.
Beverly LaHaye
At a time when many women in the United States were campaigning for greater rights, Beverly LaHaye raised her voice for traditional values. An expert activist and founder of Concerned Women for America, today she is admired and reviled in equal measure.
Immoderation: Huey Long
Huey Long's rise from rural Louisiana to U.S. Senator was marked by immoderation, as promises turned to power grabs and corruption, ultimately leading to his downfall.
Responsibility: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during the Second World War, Dwight D. Eisenhower had a duty to serve for the common good. On the eve of D-Day, the responsibility fell on his shoulders to wait – or to strike.