By Scott Ott
I was straightening out some obnoxious leftist (again) on the topic of the U.S. Constitution, when the question occurred to me: What do I really know about the Constitution? What if I was just regurgitating stuff I heard on talk radio and the Internet? I didn't admit that to the obnoxious leftist, of course, but the thought started to eat at me. After all, I had been a featured speaker at several early tea party meetings, and frequently talked about the Constitution on my PJTV show. Yet I couldn't say for sure what I really knew about it. I'd like to blame my public school upbringing, but if I'm ignorant, it's ultimately my fault.
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So, I launched into a two-year journey of discovery that climaxed in writing and hosting a 20-part short video series called "Freedom's Charter" for PJTV.com. They just made it available via digital streaming for only $2 per episode – less than $40 for the whole set. We're doing this because we're committed to getting more people more excited about the Constitution, and we need your help.
Do you know someone who needs "Freedom's Charter"? You may already be a lot smarter about the Constitution than I was, but I'm guessing that you know someone who needs to see "Freedom's Charter." Think about your circle of friends and family. Who do you know who's hungry to learn (or maybe who doesn't realize how much he needs to learn)? You can make an impact by getting just one more person fired up about this amazing Constitution. And who knows, in my two years' of study, through thousands of pages in big fat books and original source materials, I may have unearthed a few surprises for you as well.
Shocked, startled, stunned: I started with "The Federalist Papers," reading one each day, then rereading. Then I got my hands on the anti-federalist papers – the arguments against the Constitution. I read James Madison's daily journal of the Federal Convention and other primary documents. That's not to mention thousands of pages in history books.
I was startled to learn why many smart men back then greatly feared what they saw in the Constitution. I was stunned to learn how close it came to failure, both at the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, and in the state-by-state ratification conventions. I soon stopped using phrases like "the Framers believed" when I discovered the dissension over several issues that threatened to dissolve the gathering in Philadelphia. I gained new respect for unsung Framers like James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris.
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James Wilson's push for popular election of the president takes on new significance when you hear about his encounter with a musket-wielding mob. From Morris's pen flowed an unexpected preamble that not only solved some lingering issues, but became virtual scripture.
Extraordinary access: I just wanted to educate myself, but I soon learned that I wasn't alone. When I started to share what I had learned, a lot of my friends said they'd never heard these stories either. I realized most of them weren't going to read several dozen fat books like I did – they have real jobs. So I called my executive producer at PJTV.com and pitched the idea of doing this series. He loved it and dispatched a camera crew with me to Philadelphia where we got extraordinary access to Independence Hall. (I still marvel that I was close enough to touch the actual chair in which George Washington sat as he presided over the Federal Convention.) The authorities also let us shoot after hours in the National Constitution Center's "Signers Hall" among the life-sized bronze statues when the whole place was dark.
Fascinating stories: "Freedom's Charter" is not academic, it's energetic and upbeat. Because people don't like being lectured, I kept each episode short – about five minutes – to make it easier for you to get your friends and family to watch. I focused on compelling, real-life stories that illustrate issues, rather than high-level philosophical discussions. Homeschoolers will love it, but so will a public-schooled child, and he may need it even more. I hope you'll share "Freedom’s Charter" with members of your tea party or 9/12 group, or even your local political party.
NOTE: Readers can purchase the whole streaming series right now at PJTV.com.