One of my favorite movies is the musical 1776. Ken Howard played Thomas Jefferson, Howard DaSilva played Benjamin Franklin, and William Daniels (the voice of KITT in the old eighties show Knight Rider) played John Adams.
If you’ve never seen it, you should. My hubby and I went to see it on stage in Sacramento and had fourth row center seats. The stage production was fantastic, too, but I never tire of seeing the video.
1776 recounts the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I’ll admit that I love John Adams, who was “obnoxious and disliked.” Over and over he demanded a vote on independence. And he was thwarted. But he sends Richard Henry Lee back to Virginia to get the support of the first southern state in the cause of Independence.
When Lee comes back and says that he has Virginia, a committee is created to write up a “declaration of some sort” to be voted on.
BTW, there is romance here. Not only John and Abigail Adams from afar, through letters, (I love that story because Abigail was NOT a whimpy chick); but John Adams brings Martha Jefferson back to take care of Thomas Jefferson’s “needs.” (Yes, Karin, there’s sex in this musical.) Jefferson was supposed to go home to visit his wife until Adams roped him into writing the declaration. But Jefferson couldn’t do it because he wanted to see his wife. It’s after his romantic evening that he writes the brilliant document.
Which brings me to one of my favorite scenes in the movie.
Before Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams walk into the congress to present the resolution, they have a conversation (they also sing, but I’m sure they didn’t really sing in Philadelphia.)
Adams says it’s a masterpiece. Jefferson is worried. Franklin sees immortality.
A farmer, a lawyer, and a sage
A bit gouty in the leg
You know it’s quite bizarre
To think that here we are
Playing midwives to an egg
Now they have a conversation . . . what kind of egg? What bird should be the symbol of a new country?
Adams says the eagle. Jefferson says the dove. Franklin says . . .
Yes. This is a true story. Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird of America to be . . . the turkey.
What in the world would we eat on Thanksgiving if the turkey was our national bird?
I’m glad John Adams won the debate.