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Unit IV: Formation of a National Government > U.S. History > Forming a National Government > Books & Films
There are several excellent films that cover the formation of the United States government from the late 1780s to the early 1810s, a period marked by events such as the Constitutional Convention, the early presidencies, and the War of 1812. Here are some of the films that capture this historical era.

John Adams (TV Mini-Series, 2008): This acclaimed HBO mini-series chronicles the life of John Adams, a key figure in the early U.S. government. It covers his role in the Continental Congress, the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, his presidency, and his relationships with other founding figures.

Hamilton (2020): While not a traditional film, this Disney+ release is a filmed version of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. It offers a unique and engaging way to learn about the Founding Fathers, with a particular focus on Alexander Hamilton and his contributions to the early U.S. government.

The Crossing (TV Movie, 2000): This historical drama stars Jeff Daniels as George Washington and tells the story of Washington's daring crossing of the Delaware River during the American Revolution. While it focuses on an earlier period, it provides insight into Washington's leadership and the challenges of the time.

Jefferson in Paris (1995): This film explores Thomas Jefferson's time as the U.S. Minister to France during the late 1780s. It delves into his interactions with European politics and his role in shaping U.S. foreign policy, as well as his sexual relationship with Sally Hemings. It was panned by critics for good reason. Stay away.

Mary Silliman's War (TV Movie, 1994): This lesser-known film is based on the true story of Mary Silliman, whose husband was captured by the British during the American Revolution. It provides a perspective on the challenges faced by families during this period. Someone put this up on YouTube; unless it has been removed, you can find it here.

The War of 1812 (TV Mini-Series, 2011): This documentary mini-series explores the causes and events of the War of 1812, a pivotal conflict that shaped early American history.

While these films offer engaging portrayals of the period in question, it is important to note that historical accuracy may vary, and they often incorporate some dramatic liberties for storytelling purposes. Therefore, it is advisable to complement film viewing with readings from reputable historical sources for a more comprehensive understanding of this crucial era in U.S. history.

Pro-tip: Simply show clips. The trick is to find a segment, 5 to 15 minutes in length, that covers a topic you want to explore with students. Watch the clip, then discuss. Watching entire films from start to finish is seldom necessary for educative purposes.
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