Wednesday, June 29, 2011

1776, My Favorite Film (with a Joan Jett Cherry on Top)

Athenian Democracy ended when Athens got too big for its britches, when it stuck its nose where it didn't belong, into a small conflict between a colony of Corinth's on the west coast of Greece, and a colony of that colony. The result was the Peloponnesian War, with the lesser city-states Sparta and Corinth teaming up to defeat mighty Athens, which they did.

So died Democracy, for the next 2000 years.

This is the story of how it came back:

John Adams, newlywed Martha Jefferson, and Ben Franklin, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in June of 1776


The film version of the Broadway musical comedy of the same name. In the days leading up to July 4, 1776, Continental Congressmen John Adams and Benjamin Franklin coerce Thomas Jefferson into writing the Declaration of Independence as a delaying tactic as they try to persuade the American colonies to support a resolution on independence. 

As George Washington sends depressing messages describing one military disaster after another, the businessmen, landowners and slave holders in Congress all stand in the way of the Declaration, and a single "nay" vote will forever end the question of independence. Large portions of spoken and sung dialog are taken directly from the letters and memoirs of the actual participants.  

Written by Dave Heston
Despite or because of the state of the Revolutionary War led by General George Washington, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, has long skirted the issue of independence from Great Britain, much to the chagrin of its chief proponents, Massachusetts Congressman John Adams and Pennsylvania Congressman Dr. Benjamin Franklin. Adams knows that much of the debate is against him as a person, many who see him as being obnoxious and a blow-hard. 

He decides a more judicious approach may be to work behind the scenes rather than be front and center in the fight as he has been. 

On June 7, 1776, Adams gets Virginia Congressman Richard Henry Lee to propose a motion in Congress to debate the issue, which finally passes. However when the vote for independence finally looks like it will pass, its chief opponent, Pennsylvania Congressman John Dickinson, manages to pass a motion that any vote for independence needs to be unanimous. 

As a delay tactic, Adams initiates a successful motion to postpone the vote for three weeks to July 2, 1776 until they can vote on the actual text for a declaration of independence - his assertion is how can they vote on something that does not exist. Adams and Franklin talk a reluctant Virginia Congressman Thomas Jefferson to be the one to draft the document. Jefferson's reluctance is that he has other more personal issues on his mind. 

As Jefferson takes to his writing duties, Adams and Franklin and their supporters know they only have three weeks to convince the six opposing colonies to support independence. As Franklin states, it may take some improvisation and some compromise. Written by Huggo 

Left to right - John Dickinson, Martha Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee
And 200+ years later ... we get  ... THIS wonderfulness, which is my .... dream ....


Neil Bates said...

Yeah, good take and interesting segue into Joan Jett. Yeah, her look does remind me some of Jenny N of our Facebook think tank (Jett has more the big eyes look.) I want to see her sing that too, that would really drive the point home if she can do it ... let's see if she'll try. (She already says she does music, I don't remember details since I get getting various musician FBFs mixed up, now that I'm pushing 500 ...

The whole 1776 thing is a kick for me. In 1979 I worked at Colonial Williamsburg as a costumed Militiaman, firing muskets and cannon after lecturing about history, collections and activities etc.

Steven Colyer said...

Cool Neil, did you get a free roller coaster ride, or did they keep you too busy?

Neil, click here for something called Joint Quantum institute at U. Maryland (I'm think about your experiment), I got that from Chad Orzel's recent post re ultracold atoms via laser cooling.