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Explores the growth of the American colonies by investigating the institutions of law, representative government, religion, commerce, slavery, and public education during the period prior to the Revolutionary War. Living history segments reveal the hardships of colonial life, including the struggle between early settlers and Native Americans as the westward expansion increased hostile encounters. Legendary personalities Benjamin Franklin and Daniel Boone are covered, along with the important contributions of women and children. Finally, the rise of important political and commercial centers such as Boston, Philadelphia, Williamsburg and New Orleans are visited and placed in context through vivid maps and motion footage.