Welcome to Iowa Public Television! If you are seeing this message, you are using a browser that does not support web standards. This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device. Read more on our technical tips page.

Iowa Public Television


Drive Thru American History

Drive Thru American History

This award-winning series explores the discovery and founding of America. Visit Christopher Columbus’ birthplace in Italy and the place in Spain where he set sail for America. From there through the Revolutionary War and the beginnings of a nation, these programs provide a fast paced drive through history that’s just plain “ cool.”

PBS Video

« Upcoming Episodes

All Episodes

  • The Discovery: Columbus and the New World (#101)

    Investigates the “confluence of events” that resulted in Columbus’ discovery of America. In a broad sweep of history, he connects Marco Polo’s writings to Kublai Khan, to the siege of Constantinople, to the closure of the Silk Road, and finally to the need to discover new trade routes to India and China. [25 minutes]

  • The Pilgrims of New England (#102)

    Recalls the Pilgrims’ decision to leave England and find a place free from religious persecution and traces the Pilgrim exodus to Amsterdam, to Leiden, and finally to America where a land patent gives the settlers permission to settle in Virginia. Explains that the Mayflower Compact established social order that would ultimately inspire the words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. [18 minutes]

  • Boston & The Beginnings of the Revolution (#103)

    From the tower of the Old North Church where Robert Newman gave the signal that the British were coming, Dave recalls the beginnings of the American Revolution. Dave visits Lexington Green and reviews the history of the “shot heard ‘round the world," and at Old North Bridge, Concorde, the American success and British retreat. At Bunker Hill, Dave provides a detailed account of the fighting and causalities in a conflict where the Americans established themselves as a solid fighting force. [26 minutes]

  • Philadelphia and the Founding Fathers (#104)

    Tour historic locations in Philadelphia that recall battles of the American Revolution and the lives of the Founding Fathers who attended the Constitutional Conventions held there. Spend some time at Franklin House and review the biography of the great statesmen and inventor. Locations such as the American Philosophical Society, Declaration House, and Carpenter’s Hall bring to mind the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. Recall the history of the Liberty Bell, the design of the Great Seal, and the establishment of the American bald eagle as a symbol of the United States and its freedoms. [25 minutes]

  • William Penn & Pennsylvania (#105)

    At Pennsbury Manor viewers learn of William Penn’s upbringing in England and that the King of England granted Penn the largest land charter ever given, hoping that other Quakers would follow Penn to the New World. This episode also explains how Penn founded Philadelphia as a city of tolerance and how he created a system of government that provided for the separation of powers and checks and balances. The final stop is Betsy Ross’ House, where the story is told of the creation of the first U.S. flag. [17 minutes]

  • Kosciuszko, Von Steuben & The Revolutionary War (#106)

    Begin this journey at the home of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish engineer who was a compatriot of Benjamin Franklin and became head engineer of the Continental Army. At Germantown, visit the house that General Howe successfully defended and learn of the little-known story of George Washington returning General Howe’s dog after the conflict. At Valley Forge, recall the harsh winters of 1777 and 1778, when General Von Steuben transformed the beleaguered Revolutionary army into an 18th century fighting force. [25 minutes]

  • Jamestown and Yorktown (#107)

    In Jamestown, Virginia, the hardships encountered by English settlers who established the colony in 1607 are recalled. Review the biography of Pocahontas and how the Powhatan Indians are credited with saving the colony from certain disaster. A tour of Colonial Williamsburg allows viewers to explore life as lived in Colonial Times. [22 minutes]

  • Virginia's Founding Fathers: Washington, Jefferson (#108)

    Viewers visit Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier recalling the achievements of the Presidents who lived there and their aims for the estates they called home. Viewers gain an understanding of the private lives of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. [27 minutes]

  • New York and the Revolutionary War (#109)

    Beginning at the Shrine to Liberty on Long Island, learn how their overnight retreat and the dense fog that descended saved Washington’s troops. Viewers will also learn that prisoners of war were kept in horrible conditions on ships in the Hudson River and that 20,000 of the 30,000 Hessian troops hired to supplement the British army died from unsanitary conditions, rather than battle wounds. [23 minutes]

  • New Jersey and the Revolutionary War (#110)

    While standing on the banks of the Delaware near Philadelphia, recall the victory at Trenton, New Jersey, when the Continental Army crossed the Delaware and overcame the Hessian troops under the command of Colonel Rall. At Monmouth Battlefield State Park, the “first Pentagon” is introduced—a dining room at Ford House that served as a meeting place for the leaders of the Continental Army in the two winters that Washington and his troops prepared for the final battles of the Revolutionary War. [22 minutes]

« Upcoming Episodes

« Back to Programs A-Z

- display sidebar --->