Not all online courses are created equal. It’s hard for an in-person classroom to make the jump to a different medium. For me, it was headphones, moonlight on the sidewalks, sweat, and Joanne Freeman’s voice. History 116: The American Revolution pulls it off. It took me a few weeks to wade through the material, but the Open Yale course held my attention over multiple lectures. I felt like a college freshman again, and I’m glad I went back to learn the fundamentals. Here were a few takeaways:

  • In studying history, it’s important to walk a little in the lead’s shoes. The best part of the course was thinking through how people lived, and how it impacted the outcomes of the conflict. Historical dates often muddle what were in fact challenging times.
  • The founding fathers debated many systems of government.
  • They fought for the freedoms we have today; it’s important to remember. Never forget.

And Thomas Paine Possessed Passion in Droves:

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”


  • The picture comes from a biography of George Washington, perhaps the gold standard.