1776 (film)

1972 film by Peter H. Hunt

1776 is a 1972 American musical film providing a retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.

Directed by Peter H. Hunt. Written by Peter Stone, adapted from his libretto for the 1969 stage musical of

John Adams edit

  • I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress! For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesy of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?
  • The Declaration will be a triumph, a triumph I say. (pauses) And if it isn't, we still have 4 days to think of something else.
  • (to God) A second flood, a simple famine, plagues of locusts everywhere, or a cataclysmic earthquake, I'd accept with some despair. But no, you sent us Congress! Good God, Sir, was that fair?!

Other edit

That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
  • John Dickinson: Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.
  • John Dickinson: (after John Hancock calls for all members of the Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence) I'm sorry, Mr. President. I cannot, in good conscience, sign such a document. I will never stop hoping for our eventual reconciliation with England. But because, in my own way, I regard American no less than does Mr. Adams, I will join the army, and fight in her defense. Even though I believe that fight to be hopeless. Goodbye gentlemen.
  • Richard Henry Lee: Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
  • Continental Congress: (in unison) Oh for God sake's, John, SIT DOWN!!!

Dialogue edit

Abigail Adams:(in John's imagination singing) John, John! Is that you carrying on John?
John Adams: Oh, Abigail! Abigail--I have such a desire to knock heads together!
Abigail Adams: I know dearest. I know. But that's because you make everything so complicated. It's all quite simple, really: (singing) Just tell the Congress to declare independency/ Then sign your name, get out of there and/ Hurry home to me

Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.
John Adams: (scoffs) I have more to do than stand here all day listening to you quote yourself.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Oh, John, that was a new one!

Richard Henry Lee: You've come to the one colony that can get job done: Virginia. The land that gave us our glorious commander in chief, George Washington, will now give the congress its proposal on independence. Where Virginia goes the south is bound to follow. And where the south goes, the middle colonies go! Gentlemen, a salute to Virginia, the mother of American independence!
John Adams: Incredible, we're free and he hasn't even left yet! What makes you think you can do it?
Richard Henry Lee:(singing)My name is Richard Henry Lee; Virginia is my home

Secretary Thomson: (calling for a vote) Where's Rhode Island?
McNair: Rhode Island's out visiting the necessary.
John Hancock: Well, after what Rhode Island has consumed, I can't say I'm surprised. We'll come back to him, Mr. Thomson.
Secretary Thomson: Rhode Island passes.
(Roar of laughter from the Congress)

(Dickinson has been banging a cane on table to emphasize a point)
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Please Mr. Dickinson, but must you start banging? How is a man to sleep?
(laughter from Congress)
John Dickinson: Forgive me, Dr. Franklin, but must YOU start speaking? How is a man to stay awake?
(More laughter)
John Dickinson: We'll promise to be quiet - I'm sure everyone prefers that you remained asleep.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: If I'm to hear myself called an Englishman, sir, I assure you I prefer I'd remained asleep.
John Dickinson: What's so terrible about being called an Englishman? The English don't seem to mind.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Nor would I, were I given the full rights of an Englishman. But to call me one without those rights is like calling an ox a bull. He's thankful for the honor, but he'd much rather have restored what's rightfully his.
John Dickinson: When did you first notice they were missing, sir?
(more laughter)

John Dickinson: Fortunately, the people maintain a higher regard for their mother country.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Higher, certainly, than she feels for them. Never was such a valuable possession so stupidly and recklessly managed, than this entire continent by the British crown. Our industry discouraged, our resources pillaged... first of all our very character stifled. We've spawned a new race here, Mr. Dickinson. Rougher, simpler; more violent, more enterprising; less refined. We're a new nationality. We require a new nation.
A handful of drunk and disorderly recruits against the entire British Army?

(debating Virginia's resolution on independence)
John Dickinson: (laughing) Mr. Lee, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Rodney, Col. McKean, Dr. Franklin, why have you joined this... incendiary little man, this BOSTON radical? This demagogue, this MADMAN?
John Adams: Are you calling me a madman, you, you... you FRIBBLE! You and your Pennsylvania proprietors, oh, you cool, considerate men. You hang to the rear on every issue so that if we should go under, you'll still remain afloat!
John Dickinson: Are you calling me a coward?
John Adams: Yes... coward!
John Dickinson: Madman!
John Adams: Landlord!
John Dickinson: LAWYER!
(a brawl breaks out)
The finest musket men on earth. How can we win? How can we even hope to survive?

(After a dispatch from General Washington regarding the poor discipline and morale of the Continental Army at New Brunswick)
John Dickinson: Come, come, Mr. Adams, you must see that it's hopeless? Let us recall General Washington and disband the Continental Army before we're overwhelmed.
John Adams: Oh yes indeed, the English would like that now, wouldn't they?
John Dickinson: Why not ask them yourself, they ought to be here any minute.
Edward Rutledge: And when they hang you, Mr. Adams, I hope you will put in a good word for the rest of us?
Samuel Chase: Face facts Mr. Adams. A handful of drunk and disorderly recruits against the entire British Army? The finest musket men on earth. How can we win? How can we even hope to survive?

( Adams and Franklin are at a loss for explaining why a written declaration is needed)
Samuel Chase MD: Answer straight: what would be its purpose?
Thomas Jefferson: To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.
(winks at Adams and Franklin)

John Adams: (reading a note tossed down from Jefferson) "Dear Mr. Adams, I am taking my wife back to bed. Kindly go away. Your obedient, T. Jefferson." Incredible!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: (chuckles) You know, perhaps I should have written the Declaration. At my age there's little doubt that the pen is mightier than the sword.

(debating on America's national bird)
John Adams: The eagle.
Thomas Jefferson: The dove.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The turkey.
John Adams: The eagle.
Thomas Jefferson: The dove.
John Adams: The eagle!
Thomas Jefferson: (considers) The eagle.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The turkey.
John Adams: The eagle. The eagle is a majestic bird!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The eagle is a scavenger, a thief and coward. A symbol of over ten centuries of European mischief.
John Adams: And the turkey?
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The turkey is a truly noble bird. Native american, a source of sustenance to our original settlers, and an incredibly brave fellow who wouldn't flinch from attacking a whole regiment of Englishmen single-handedly! Therefore, the national bird of America is going to be...
John Adams: The eagle!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The eagle!
(Franklin is dumbstruck)

(discussing a passage condemning slavery in the Declaration of Independence)
Edward Rutledge: Remove it, or South Carolina will bury, now and forever, your dream of independence.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: John, I beg you, consider what you're doing.
John Adams: Mark me Franklin, if we give in on this issue, posterity will never forgive us.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: That's probably true, but we won't hear a thing. We will be long gone. Besides, what will posterity think we were? Demigods? We're men, no more, no less. Trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed. First things first John, independence America. If we don't secure that, what difference will the rest make?
John Adams: Jefferson, say something.
Thomas Jefferson: What else is there to do?
John Adams: Well man, you're the one who wrote it.
Thomas Jefferson: I wrote all of it, Mr Adams.
(Jefferson crosses out the passage. Adams angrily takes the document to Rutledge.)
John Adams: There it is Rutledge, you have your slavery, little good may it do you. Now vote, damn you!
Edward Rutledge: Mr. President, the fair colony of South Carolina, says Yea.

Cast edit

External links edit

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