->''"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, [[AnythingButThat was that fair?]]"''
-->-- '''John Adams'''

''1776'' is the name of a 1969 Broadway play by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone, and its 1972 film adaptation, featuring Creator/WilliamDaniels (yes, [[Series/KnightRider KITT]] and [[Series/BoyMeetsWorld Mr. Feeny]]) in the role that made him a star. It's a mostly accurate depiction of the hurdles and loopholes that the Founding Fathers went through in order to separate from Great Britain... well, once you take out [[TheMusical the all-singing, all-dancing part]], it is, anyway.

Daniels plays UsefulNotes/JohnAdams (later the first-ever Vice President and second President of the United States), a Boston revolutionary who spearheads the effort for the American Colonies to break from Britain and form a new independent nation. All sorts of reasons are brought up for this, including taxation without representation and the alienation that the Atlantic Ocean brings. With the help of Yoda-like Creator/BenjaminFranklin and a [[ResignedToTheCall heel-dragging]] UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson -- who is so homesick he can barely write the Declaration of Independence -- he puts forth these reasons... which are almost immediately savaged. It takes a minor miracle just to get the whole thing to a spot where it can be voted on, much less ratified; ''that'' would require unanimity.

Though light-hearted in many parts (it's almost impossible to get through the number about [[GotVolunteered who will write the Declaration]] without laughing), it also contains poignant looks at how difficult decisions had to be made (the South viewed slavery as an economic necessity and walked out ''en masse'' upon hearing Jefferson, a fellow Southerner, condemn it). In addition, a report from a soldier on the front (the haunting "Mama, Look Sharp" number) drives home just how much, and yet how little, the piece of paper will mean.

The musical got a 1997 revival on Broadway, starring Creator/BrentSpiner as Adams. (Yes, [[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Data]].)

Not to be confused with a ''Film/ThreeHundred'' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTcVNuNX8yY parody]] made by ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken''.
!!This work contains examples of the following tropes:

* AcCENTUponTheWrongSylLABle:
** "The Lees of Old Virginia", uh, prominent-'''Lee''' uses this trope. Even after the song, Richard Henry Lee continues to make Lee-based puns.
** During one of the dispatches it is announced that Washington's troops are carousing in the "Rar-uh-TAN" River. [[{{Joisey}} New Jersians]] who live not far from said river know it as the "Rar-uh-tin" River.
** One to modern ears. In the show, "Maryland" is pronounced "Mary Land," rather than the modern pronunciation of "Marilynd," as is appropriate to the time period.
* ActuallyPrettyFunny: When Franklin compares being called an Englishman without the full rights of one to calling an ox a bull, "He's thankful for the honor, but he'd much rather have restored what's rightfully his," to gales of laughter from the congress, [[DeadpanSnarker Dickinson]] simply retorts, "When did you first notice they were missing, sir?" Even Franklin bursts out laughing at that.
* AlliterativeList: When Adams is singing "Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve":
-->'''John Adams''': You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve,\\
Not one damn thing do we solve,\\
Piddle, twiddle, and resolve,\\
Nothing's ever solved\\
In foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadephia!
* AllThereInTheManual: There is a souvenir program out there that shows pictures from the movie and some behind-the-scenes stuff, including the names of the rest of the delegates seen in the movie (mostly Southerners to fill out the dance line in "Cool Considerate Men") For example, the man that yelled "''Will someone shut that man up?''" during "Sit Down, John", is Georgia delegate George Walton.
** The screenplay was later published in paperback format with an extensive afterword.
* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: When Adams fetches up against conservative powerhouse John Dickinson, he gets creamed by the man's powerful personality, charisma, and general ability to get people to like him. Dickinson, in turn, backs down when Franklin sighs, finally gets out of his chair, and turns the finest wit in the colonies on his ass.
* UsefulNotes/AmericanAccents: Ranging from the Deep South to New England, naturally enough. With at least one first generation immigrant ([=McKean=]) thrown in (though this is not historically correct, see below).
** The colony of Maryland in this film is pronounced "Mary-Land" as was common at the time, rather than as "Mariland" which is accepted today.
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution: at the pivotal point where the rebellion became the revolution.
* AnachronismStew:
** A muddied example with the song "Cool, Cool Considerate Men" and its line "Never to the left, forever to the right". The concept of Left and Right Wing politics came about due to the French Revolution, more than a decade later, which would make this terminology an anachronism under normal circumstances. InUniverse, however, they are referring to the sliding board used to track their votes, which would bring it back into historical accuracy... if said board itself were not an invention of the play.
** The labeling of the anti-independence faction as "conservative" was itself an anachronism. Every man in the Continental Congress was a liberal in the classical sense. The true conservative position in English politics at the time was vehemently pro-monarchy and would have found the idea of an unauthorized congress distasteful no matter what they were discussing. However they do represent the relatively conservative position within the Continental Congress at the time.
** Adams and Franklin waltz with Martha Jefferson in "He Plays the Violin." At the time, the waltz was a highly scandalous European dance.
*** Becomes an odd sort of FridgeBrilliance later on, during "Cool, Cool Considerate Men," when Dickinson and his allies dance a minuet. The minuet was an older, more established and respectable dance; the waltz, modern and scandalous. Kind of like the respective parties' ideals in congress, eh?
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: Jefferson, speaking of black slavery, says that "the rights of man are deeply wounded by this infamous practice!" And Rutledge utterly nails him with, "Then see to your own wounds, Mr. Jefferson, for you are a practitioner! ''Are you not''?!" Jefferson is clearly shaken by this; publicly, he commits to freeing all of his slaves when the time is ripe. [[spoiler: He doesn't. Jefferson couldn't stay solvent even ''with'' slaves, but nobody with an estate as big as his could stay solvent without them.]]
* ArtisticLicense: Since they didn't have transcripts of the actual events beyond the basic parliamentary records of Congressional activity, putting all the notes and diaries into a narrative required this.
** Many historical figures were dropped from the production, as the entire complement of the Congress would have been too unwieldy for Broadway (particularly as some, like John Adams' firebrand cousin Samuel, would have been crying out for a signature scene or song). Of the 65 delegates in the actual Congress, only 30-35 are ever shown.
** The debate over American Independence did not boil down to an argument over the phrasing of the Declaration and whether slavery ought to be legal, as it more or less does in the movie. While the wording of the Declaration ''was'' debated, Congress had, in a surprisingly lucid moment, decided to vote on the issue first and argue the wording of the document after the fact, i.e. Congress had already voted in favor of independence before making changes to the Declaration. The fictionalized debate did serve to make the musical more politically correct by modern standards, and more dramatic since it added an element of "what are you willing to compromise?" to the mix. And it set up one of the musical's most profound comments on American Politics, Franklin's "Whether you like it or not, John, these men will become part of the country you hope to create" (a very, very significant line in this era where phrases like "un-American" are used so frequently in political debate). Still, historically speaking, slavery was not in any way the point on which the issue of independence hinged. It probably ''could'' have been, but the Revolutionary leaders, as a whole and by silent agreement, passed the buck for [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar the next generation to deal with]].
** As admitted in the DVDCommentary, Martha Jefferson never visited her husband in UsefulNotes/{{Philadelphia}}.
** There was no vote mandating that a motion for independence had to be unanimous ... but, as Hancock acknowledges in the play, there was an understanding that acting on anything less than unanimity risked a fatal split in the colonies.
** [[http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_McKean Thomas McKean]] was born in Pennsylvania to parents who emigrated from Ireland as children. He may have been an Ulster Scot by descent, but it's highly doubtful that he had such a prrronounced accent. (As it happens, Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson ''did'' have a pronounced Scottish accent -- he was born in Carskerdo, Scotland -- but is here portrayed as mostly OvershadowedByAwesome compared to his colleagues Ben Franklin and John Dickinson.)
* AsTheGoodBookSays: Quoth Jefferson, "These people shall be free."
-->'''Dickinson:''' What is a man profited, if he shall gain Maryland and lose the entire South? ''(beat)'' [[IronicEcho Matthew 16:26]].
* BatmanGambit: Franklin asking John Hancock to poll the Pennsylvania delegation.
* TheBigBoard: A slider board showing the vote tally. There is also a tear-off calendar counting down to July 4th. Both were invented by the playwrights for dramatic expedience.
* BigDamnHeroes:
** Reverend John Witherspoon's arrival in Congress before the resolution on independence is struck down, a somewhat understated one since (despite the stakes) it's a lighthearted scene.
** Caesar Rodney riding eighty miles in failing health to show up [[IAintGotTimeToBleed just in time for the vote]] (a real event, famous enough that it's on the Delaware quarter).
** Abigail's saltpeter arriving after the Southern walkout, renewing Adams' determination.
* BigNever: Adams does a few of these.
* BigShutUp:
** The opening number, "Sit Down, John," is this in song form. It even ends with one man crying "Will someone shut that man up?"
** Adams, to Franklin, Livingston and Sherman, at the end of "But, Mr. Adams."
* BittersweetEnding: The film ends with the Declaration signed and an independence declared -- and years of a turbulent and desperate war that did not look winnable ahead of them. As Washington had mentioned, his army was in terrible shape, his money and credit were all gone, and the British had the strongest navy in the world. That bit in the Declaration about pledging "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" wasn't just emotionalism.
* BloodOnTheDebateFloor: Adams -- dear Mr. Adams -- and Dickinson calmly talking out their differences. With [[CaneFu canes]]. Secretary Thomson recorded several stick fights during congressional debates, but didn't name the participants.
* {{Bowdlerise}}: Up until recently, the only version of the movie to reach TV was a severely-edited copy that obscured or completely removed many of the raunchier bits, including the whole "New Brunswick" sequence and the latter half of Franklin's "it's like calling an ox a bull" exchange with Dickinson. Even the version that hit the theaters was badly chopped, among other things excluding lines that made it clear Rutledge's opposition to the slavery clause was not due to mindless evil, but because he saw it as a betrayal of a promise that the independence faction would allow states to govern themselves as they saw fit.
* BritishStuffiness: John Adams demonstrated something akin to this, reflecting the Puritan ethos imported with the original Plymouth settlers that reigned supreme in Massachusetts in his day and for a long time thereafter. For example, he expresses astonishment that Mister and Missus Jefferson would conjugate at an improper time of day.
-->'''Adams:''' There's work to be done!\\
'''Franklin:''' Obviously!\\
'''Adams:''' Good God...you don't mean to say that...I mean they're not going to...in the middle of the afternoon?\\
'''Franklin:''' Not everybody's from Boston, John!\\
'''Adams:''' ''In''credible...
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Richard Henry Lee, of the Lees of Old Virginia.
* CatchPhrase
** [=MacNair=]: "Suh-weet Jesus!", echoed at least once by Franklin.
** Adams: "Oh good ''God''" and "''In''credible."
** Morris: "New York abstains, [[InsistentTerminology courteously]]."
* ChekhovsGun: The absence of the delegation from New Jersey is repeatedly brought up, which keeps their arrival from being a deus ex machina.
** Just when things look bleak for George Washington, the saltpeter that John requested from Abigail early on arrives a day before the final vote to help Washington turn the tide against the British.
* ChekhovsGunman: Wilson, who is utterly insignificant to the narrative, other than comic relief as Dickinson's toady--until he has to cast the deciding vote.
* {{Chessmaster}}: Franklin. The director's commentary points out that Franklin is often staged in the background of the big debate scenes, observing.
* CompositeCharacter: The John Adams in this musical is something of an amalgam of the real John Adams and his cousin Samuel Adams.
* CoolHorse: Lee's horse, especially during "The Lees of Old Virginia". It begins when Lee remarks "may my horses turn to glue..." -- at which point the horse nudges Lee in the chest. And it ends when Lee rides away -- because any horse capable of standing still whilst someone runs up behind him (in his ''blind spot'', no less) and leaps onto his back without bucking, rearing, or bolting automatically qualifies for the description. [[http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/247463/1776-Movie-Clip-Lees-of-Old-Virginia.html You can see the clip here]], with the nudge at 1:05, and the leap onto its back in the final 15 seconds. (Incidentally, Ron Holgate had never so much as sat on a horse prior to filming. It doesn't show.)
* CoversAlwaysLie:
** The posters and DVD cover for the film version seem to imply that there is going to be a major romantic plot point involving John and Abigail. They ''do'' have many scenes in the movie, but not enough to justify being displayed quite so prominently.
** The DVD cover also features one-scene-wonder Richard Henry Lee--in fact, one Lee on each side of Jefferson and Martha's embrace, which dominates the cover. Protagonist John Adams does not appear at all, which is either ironic (given that this show helped to raise his profile after being ignored by historians for a couple hundred years) or fitting (given Adams' accurate prediction that [[NoRespectGuy history would forget him]] in favor of Franklin and Washington).
* CrowdSong: No one in Congress likes John Adams, apparently. "''Sit down, John!''" (He ''is'' obnoxious and disliked, though.)
* CueTheSun: In his song, Dickinson delights that it happens anytime Adams is gone.
* CuttingTheKnot: Franklin asking that the Pennsylvania delegation be polled. That leaves Wilson as the swing vote. He [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere instantly buckles]] and votes with the majority.
* DarkestHour: This musical does ''not'' end on the triumphant note you'd expect. The British have landed at New York, the newly formed U.S. of A. is facing the British Royal Navy at a time when it was the biggest, best, most dominant navy in the world, over a quarter of the ''colonists'' are on the British side, and every man in that room is at risk of being hanged for treason. Nobody expected to win that war. ForDoomTheBellTolls indeed...
* DavidVersusGoliath: A comical version in "But, Mr. Adams," seeing as how Ken Howard (Jefferson) stands a full eleven inches taller than William Daniels. In real life, the height disparity between Jefferson (6'2") and Adams (5'7") was certainly notable though not as dramatic as in the film--Daniels is indeed 5'7", but Howard stands at a particularly impressive 6'6".
* DeliciousDistraction: In the 1972 film adaptation, when Adams is addressing Chase:
-->'''Adams:''' America is awaiting your decision, Mr. Chase! The ''world'' is awaiting your decision! ''(looks at Chase's plate)'' What's that? Kidney? ''(Chase angrily slaps Adams' finger away from his plate)''
* DeadpanSnarker:
** Mostly Franklin, but Adams and Jefferson get their moments in.
--->'''Adams:''' Do you mean to tell me it's not yet finished?!\\
'''Jefferson:''' No, sir. I mean to say that it is not yet begun.\\
'''Adams:''' ''(flabbergasted)'' You've had a week, man! ''A whole week!'' The entire earth was created in a week!\\
'''Jefferson:''' Someday, you must tell me [[AnswersToTheNameOfGod how you did it.]]
** Dickinson provides some good SnarkToSnarkCombat.
--->'''Franklin:''' ...to call me [an Englishman] 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.\\
'''Dickinson:''' When did you first notice they were missing, sir?\\
'''Hancock''': I'm concerned over the continual absence of one-thirteenth of this Congress. ''Where is New Jersey''??\\
'''Dickinson''': Somewhere between New York and Pennsylvania.
* DecidedByOneVote: Even within the context of unanimity.
* DemocracyIsFlawed:
-->'''Franklin:''' What do you think, Doctor? Democracy. What Creator/{{Plato}} called "A charming form of government, full of variety and disorder." I never knew Plato had been to Philadelphia.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: The several committees in a "A committee formed to address (subject), designated as the (subject) committee format:
-->'''Hancock''': A committee formed to answer all congressional correspondence, designated as the Congressional Correspondence committee.\\\
'''Hancock''': A committee formed to consider the problem of counterfeit money, designated as the counterfeit money committee.\\\
'''Hancock''': A committee formed to study the causes of our military defeat in Canada...\\\
'''Hancock''': A committee formed to keep secrets, designated as the secrets committee.
* DiesWideOpen: In "Mama, Look Sharp!"
-->"I'll close your eyes, my Billy,\\
Them eyes that cannot see."
* DirtyOldMan: Franklin loves the ladies, and Hopkins of Rhode Island loves to joke about it.
-->'''Adams:''' Wake up Franklin! We're going to New Brunswick!
-->'''Franklin:''' Like hell I am. What for?
-->'''Hopkins:''' [[ItMakesSenseInContext The whoring and the drinking!]]
* DrumRollPlease: A military drumroll precedes [[UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington General Washington's]] name at the end of every dispatch, even when Thomson doesn't read out the name itself.
* DynamicEntry:
** As it looks like the question of debating independence will be a close vote, Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island sneaks out "to visit the necessary." He comes back to a 5 to 5 tie (New Jersey absent, and New York having abstained... [[RunningGag courteously]]).
--->'''Hopkins''': In all my years, I never seen, heard, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn't be talked about. Hell Yes!! I'm for debating anything!! Rhode Island says Yea!
** Richard Henry Lee gallops up to the steps of Congress and bursts in through the doors bearing Virginia's proposal for independence.
* DyingAlone: "Mama, Look Sharp!" is sung from the perspective of a young militiaman who dies before his mother finds him.
* TheEeyore: George Washington, through his dispatches.
-->'''Col. Thomas [=McKean=]:''' Ooch, That man would depress a hyena.
* EvilLawyerJoke: Seeing VolleyingInsults below; ironic in that the participants in the volley, Adams and Dickinson, were both lawyers.
* FirstLawOfTragicomedies: Played straght, but downplayed by making the transition rather gradual, and including some humor, even if it is [[GallowsHumor a bit dark]], all the way through.
* {{Foil}}: John Dickinson and Edward Rutledge, to Adams, Franklin and Jefferson.
* ForDoomTheBellTolls: The eerie bell-ringing that accompanies the signing and final tableau.
* ForegoneConclusion: Of course, it's a matter of historical record that Thomas Jefferson is going to write the Declaration, and it's going to be signed. It speaks to the musical's worth that even though the audience obviously knows how it's going to end, there is still actual conflict and suspense found in ''how'' it's going to be done.
* FreudianSlipperySlope: Adams introducing himself to a post-coital Mrs. Jefferson.
-->'''Adams:''' Did you sleep we-- ...erm.\\
'''Franklin:''' ''(gasps)''\\
'''Adams:''' What I mean is, did you ''lie comforta''-- ....uhh.
* FridgeLogic: In-universe, when Martha Jefferson explains that she and Tom dance to his violin playing (and uses Franklin to demonstrate), Adams is perplexed and wants to know who is playing the violin.
* {{Flynning}}: The brief stick-fight between Adams and Dickinson in the Congressional chamber is rather unconvincing flynning when it's not just the two men grappling.
* GallowsHumor:
** The Congress engages in a bit of quite literal gallows humor before signing the Declaration, and thereby committing treason against the English crown, for which they very well could end up on a gallows.
--->'''Hancock:''': Alright, step right up, gentlemen. Don't miss your chance to commit treason.\\
'''Franklin''': Hancock is right. This document is our passport to the gallows. But there's no backing out now, for if we do not hang together, we shall most assuredly hang separately.\\
'''[=McKean=]:''' In my case, hangin' won't be so bad; one snap and it'll be all over, just like that. But lookit [skinny] Read there! He'll be dancin' a jig long after I'm gone!\\
'''Hancock:''' Gentlemen, forgive me if I don't join in the merriment, but if we are arrested now, my name is ''[[TheScapegoat still the only one on the damn thing!]]''
** ShownTheirWork: In real life, Franklin did indeed say something like the words attributed to him during the actual signing of the Declaration. [=McKean=]'s joke about hanging faster than Read is paraphrased from a quote by Declaration signer Benjamin Harrison. [[note]]Father of 30-day president UsefulNotes/WilliamHenryHarrison and great-grandfather of his namesake, President UsefulNotes/BenjaminHarrison.[[/note]]
** Caesar Rodney indulges a bit earlier, when he asks if Lyman Hall's doctorate is in medicine or theology.
--->'''Dr. Hall:''' Both, actually. Which may be of service to you?
--->'''Caesar Rodney:''' By all means, the physician first! Then we shall worry about the other one!
* GentlemanSnarker: The most eloquent of congressmen have learned the English Parliament-style trading of witty, well-mannered barbs quite well, but being "rougher, simpler, and more violent" than the English they occasionally degenerate into shouting and even one physical fight.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar:
** ''Barely''.
--->'''Lee:''' I'll just stop off in Stratford long enough to refresh the missus...\\
'''Jefferson:''' And tonight, I'm leaving for home.\\
'''Hancock:''' On business?\\
'''Jefferson:''' Family business.\\
'''Hopkins:''' Give'r a flourish for me, young feller!\\
'''Adams:''' Mr. Jefferson -- ''dear'' Mr. Jefferson --\\
I'm only forty-one, I still have my virility,\\
And I can romp through Cupid's grove with great agility,\\
But life is more than sexual combustibility!\\
"Dear Mr. Adams, I am taking my wife back to bed. Kindly go away."
** The first reprise of "Yours, Yours, Yours", after Martha Jefferson arrives, is one long, scarcely veiled innuendo, in which the two (in incredibly eloquent words, naturally) complain about all the sex they're not having with each other and lament how much they miss each other -- in both the emotional and physical senses -- then promise that they'll get to it just as soon as they see each other again.
* TheGhost: Your Obedient ''[[DrumRollPlease ]]'' [[UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington G. Washington.]]
* GladIThoughtOfIt: Franklin [[ExploitedTrope uses this ploy]] to make the blustery Richard Henry Lee do his bidding.
* GoodIsNotNice: Adams ordering a dying Caesar Rodney to be dragged out of bed to vote. ("Aye, what a bastardly bunch we are!")
* GovernmentProcedural: The entire musical is one long attempt to jockey for votes.
* GrammarNazi: John Adams, dear Mr. Adams, insists that it's "''un''alienable," not "''in''alienable". He relents when Jefferson refuses to change it, but assures that he'll "speak about it with the printer later". Funny thing is, he did! Jefferson used inalienable in his draft, but unalienable [[http://www.ushistory.org/DECLARATION/unalienable.htm was used on the published declaration]]. Whether or not John Adams actually was the source of this is unknown, but he did use "unalienable" in his personal handwritten copy.
* TheGreatestStoryNeverTold: Adams seemed resigned to the fact that history books wouldn't remember his contributions to American independence, assuming they would only mention Franklin and Washington.
-->'''Adams:''' I won't be in the history books anyway, only you. Franklin did this and Franklin did that and Franklin did some other damn thing. Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington, fully grown and on his horse. Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightning rod and the three of them -- Franklin, Washington, and the horse -- conducted the entire revolution all by themselves.
-->''(Adams waits a few {{beat}}s for Franklin's reply before he turns around to see Franklin smiling, waiting for another {{beat}} before speaking)''
-->'''Franklin:''' ...I like it.
* HappilyMarried: John and Abigail Adams, Thomas and Martha Jefferson. Both of them, incidentally, are TruthInTelevision.
** The Adamses in particular were desperately in love with each other both before and during all ''fifty-four years'' of their marriage, and wrote some of the spiciest love letters known to history during their long separations. The ''title'' of "Yours, Yours, Yours" was lifted direct from several of John's letters to Abigail, and whole passages from those letters (including "write to me with sentimental effusion") were taken almost intact from their letters as well. If anything, the musical slightly ''underplays'' the depths of trust, love, and affection between them.
** Sadly, despite how much in love they were, Jefferson and his wife didn't have nearly as much time together, as Martha died tragically young. (The Martha Jefferson listed as Jefferson's First Lady is actually his daughter.)
* HeadInTheSandManagement: Adams's frequent insult towards Dickinson and his supporters: that their wealthy lifestyles have made them out-of-touch with the average Americans they represent, and that they drastically underestimate the bad blood that's been stored up by the rebellion.
* HeatWave: "It's hot as Hell, in [[MidwordRhyme Philadel]]-phia!"
* HehHehYouSaidX: When Thomson calls for the vote on debate, the Rhode Island delegate is out using "the necessary." When he then states, "Rhode Island passes," Congress breaks out laughing.
* HiddenDepths: Franklin is surprised to learn that Adams is an excellent dancer.
-->'''Adams''' [to Franklin]: ''We still know how to do some things in Boston''!
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: With the exception of the courier and [=MacNair's=] assistant -- called only "Leather Apron" -- every single person who appears in the Congressional chambers, speaking role or not, is a historically documented personage. Yes, even Thomson and [=MacNair=] were real people.
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade: Inverted. James Wilson, portrayed in the film and musical as a non-entity who voted for independence because he didn't want the notoriety of being the one who voted it down, was in fact a committed independence man who delayed his vote until after he checked with his constituents to make sure they agreed with him -- and to do so, was partially responsible for the postponement that the film shows as engineered by Adams and Franklin. Chalk this up to the availability of information in the 1960s; both Wilson's and Adams' roles in the process were considered rather inconsequential.
** Played straight with Secretary Thomson. While he is a genuine historical figure, very little was known about him then or since so the authors were either free or forced to flesh out his character to fit the story.
*** For that matter, the John Adams in the play is a bit of a composite of the historical John Adams and his more radical cousin Sam.
** Both Adams and Franklin are portrayed as staunch opponents of slavery. Franklin claims to have started one of the first anti-slavery associations in America. This is not true, though he did speak out against slavery in the last years of his life. [[http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/franklin/ His final public act was in the form of a petition asking Congress to abolish slavery and the slave trade.]]
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade:
** Mostly averted. Rutledge and Read do come around, and while Dickinson does not sign the Declaration, he still joins the American army and is given a standing ovation when he leaves Congress. However, Dickinson ''is'' changed from a reasonable moderate to a conservative hardliner specifically to serve as the major antagonist of the piece. The real Dickinson served with distinction and returned to play a key role in the Constitutional Convention.
** If approached from the real Adams' point of view, this Rutledge is definitely upgraded. Adams thought Rutledge was a waste of political space ("jejune, inane, and puerile," among other things); likewise, he thought Dickinson was "very modest, delicate, and timid" -- quite a difference from the political steamroller in the play/movie. He was much more impressed by Richard Henry Lee (whom the stage/movie version of Adams apparently considers an idiotic blowhard).
* HonorBeforeReason: John Hancock all but promises Adams that he will do whatever Adams wants him to do, because he is from Massachusetts like Adams. Adams tells him to remain neutral as President of Congress, otherwise, any victory for independence would be tainted.
* HotBlooded: John Adams is so hot-blooded that the temperature can shoot up to '''[[FisherKing ninety degrees]]''' when he's around.
* HotPotato: The responsibility of writing the Declaration of Independence; visually {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in the Broadway production and film, with the Declaration Committee actually passing around a quill pen in classic hot-potato style during "But, Mr. Adams."
* HollywoodNight: Both averted and not. The "Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve" number is clearly shot at night in front of the Independence Hall facade, but the later duet where John and Abigail walk across their farm at "night" is obviously a blue-filtered daytime shot. Then again, it ''is'' an imaginary/dream sequence, and the filter use may have been an intentional stylistic decision to emphasize that.
* AHouseDivided: The utopian Adams refuses to budge on the slavery issue, foreseeing a future cataclysm if they don't stop it here and now. [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar (To be fair, he's right.)]] But the Southerners, led by Rutledge, promise to kill the Declaration if the government tries to abolish slavery. In the end, even Jefferson admits they have to strike it.
-->'''Adams''': ''(snatches the paper from Jefferson and shoves it in Rutledge's face)'' There you are, Rutlege, you have your slavery, little good may it do you. Now ''vote, damn you.''
** This is John Hancock's reason for breaking the tie, in favor of requiring unanimity for the vote for independence. If Indepencence passes with less than a unanimous vote, Hancock fears the possibility that Britain will press the militias of the dissenting states into serving the British Army, and thus pitting brother against brother in the war that's certain to come, and already is happening.
* {{Hypocrite}}: When Adams objects to slavery as being an offense against God and man in addition to the "filthy purse strings", Rutledge points out how the northern colonists have profited considerably from importing slaves into the northern colonies despite not owning any themselves:
-->'''John Adams''': Economy. Always economy. There's more to this than a filthy purse-string, Rutledge! It is an offense against man and God!\\
'''Hopkins''': It's a stinking business, Mr. Rutledge, a stinking business!\\
'''Edward Rutledge''': Is it really now, Mr. Hopkins? Then what's that I smell floating down from the North? Could it be the aroma of "hy-pocrisy"? For who holds the other end of that filthy purse-string, ''Mr. Adams''? Our northern brethren are feeling a bit tender toward our black slaves. They don't keep slaves! Oh, no. But they are willing to be considerable carriers of slaves to others. They're willin'! For the shillin'. Or haven't you heard, Mr. Adams? Clink, clink.
* HypocriticalHumor: Richard Henry Lee's [[EstablishingCharacterMoment first scene]]. In the opening number, Lee darts his eyes around and suggests opening a window, and is shouted down. Seeing his position is unpopular with the chorus, he prompt-Lee joins in.
* IHaveNoSon: "Son? What son?", says Franklin when he's asked about his son William, the royal governor of New Jersey, and when he learns William's been captured, the first words out of his mouth (once he's sure his son is unharmed) are a delighted inquiry about why exactly the Continental Army has arrested "the little bastard." In RealLife, Franklin met his son only once in the last 15 years of his life after William came out for Britain.
* INeedAFreakingDrink: With the southerners ready to vote them down, the other delegates immediately start calling for [=McNair=] to fetch the rum.
* IWantMyMommy: Done heartbreakingly with "Mama, Look Sharp," about a young militiaman (not even a soldier, really) dying alone.
* IncomingHam: Richard Henry Lee.
-->'''Adams''' [to Franklin]: ''Never''!
-->'''Lee:''' HELLLLO, JOHNNY!
* IndyPloy: The entire struggle for a motion on independence. (Note especially that Adams makes up the whole concept of a declaration of independence ''purely to stall for time''.)
* InstantlyProvenWrong: Just as John Adams is extolling the condition of the Continental Army ("Never has training been more spirited, never have spirits been higher"), a courier arrives with a message from General Washington describing the deplorable condition of the army, the raucous behavior, disrespect, and general unsuitability of the average colonial soldier.
* IntroDump: After John and Abigail Adams, Franklin, and Richard Henry Lee are introduced in the opening scenes, the arrival of Dr. Lyman Hall of Georgia provides an opportunity to introduce most everyone else in Congress to both Hall and the audience.
* IronicEcho: Abigail complains that John called her, among other things, pigeon-toed. John responds, "Well, there you have me. You are pigeon-toed." Later, when John complains that he's pig-headed, Abby says, "Well, there you have me." Both smile.
* ItWillNeverCatchOn: [=MacNair=] doesn't think that "The United States of America" is a good name for the new country. Nobody listens to him because he's not actually a member of the congress.
* ItsPersonal[=/=]PapaWolf: Lewis Morris of New York abstains ("Courteously!" as always) from every vote since New York never told him what to vote for. Then when it comes time to sign the Declaration of Independence he finds out the British have seized and destroyed his home, his family has fled their state and his eldest sons have joined the Continental Army to fight the invaders. "To hell with New York. I'll sign it anyway!"
* JerkassHasAPoint:
** "Molasses to Rum", so very much. Sure, Edward Rutledge is arguing for slavery, but when he points out that Jefferson himself owns slaves, and that Adams' Boston is the main home of the traders who bring the slaves in from Africa -- a slave trade which is, in a way, even more horrifying than slavery itself -- he not only has a point, but it's historically accurate.
*** See NotSoDifferent below
** To a lesser degree, Dickinson raises a fair point that open revolution is hardly the final option on the negotiating table with Great Britain; moreover, challenging England's military supremacy is a rather suicidal idea (even Franklin concedes this is true). The movie paints Dickinson in a more sympathetic brush by deleting the scene where he croons "Cool, Considerate Men', which all but spelled out that he is a commissar protecting his business interests.
** Though Rutledge's insistence that the vote should be unanimous is portrayed as another tactic to kill the bid for independence, Hancock agrees with him and casts the tiebreaker vote in favor of unanimity. He explains this is because to do otherwise would force the loyalist states to fight the independent ones, putting the new nation on a foundation of fratricide and immediately branding the new nation with "[[CainAndAbel the Mark of Cain]]."
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Adams. He does have a heart of gold. Somewhere. For instance, he really does love his wife, even if he makes fun of her for being pigeon-toed (fortunately, she gives as good as she gets). And he really does want the best for his country and its people. Unfortunately, he's also pedantic, condescending, and a loose cannon, endangering the vote for independence even as he stumps for it.
* LargeHam:
** Richard Henry Lee, Jefferson's fellow Virginian.
** Rutledge's song "Molasses to Rum" plants him firmly in ham territory.
** Ben Franklin cannot sit down without doing so in a noteworthy manner.
--->'''Franklin''': What are you staring at? Haven't you ever seen a great man before?
* LaserGuidedKarma: Dickinson, the leader of the Tories, begins the play by ganging up on John Adams. In the end, Dickinson stands utterly alone.
* LettingTheAirOutOfTheBand: When his wife comes to visit, Jefferson starts to reprise "He Plays the Violin" on his...violin. It quickly peters out as Adams and Franklin listen in.
-->'''Adams:''' I tell you Franklin, it's positively indecent!
* [[LowerDeckEpisode Lower Deck Scene]]: [=MacNair=], his assistant and the courier sitting in the chamber by themselves and snarking about Congress just before the courier's song, "Mama, Look Sharp".
* MakeOutKids: Tom and Martha. When Martha arrives in Philadelphia, she and Tom immediately lock lips; they're completely oblivious to John's attempt to introduce himself and Franklin to the lady. The next day, Tom's only good-morning is a written message telling Adams and Franklin to go away because he wants to take Martha back to bed. John is quite scandalized.
-->'''Adams:''' ''In''credible!
* MathematiciansAnswer: When inquiring about the absence of the New Jersey delegates:
-->'''John Hancock''': I'm concerned over the continued absence of 1/13th of this Congress. Where is New Jersey?
-->'''John Dickinson''': Somewhere between New York and Pennsylvania.
* MidwordRhyme: Several examples, including "Sit Down, John":
-->It's ninety degrees,\\
have mercy, John, please!\\
It's hot as hell,\\
in Philadel-\\
* MinorCharacterMajorSong:
** Ron Holgate as Richard Henry Lee, who has just one major scene and a minor one, but carries some great big wonderful slabs of roast pork in "The Lees of Old Virginia."
** "Mama, Look Sharp", sung by an unnamed character who barely if ever so much as speaks through the rest of the play, and yet is one of the most gut-wrenching songs ever performed on stage.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: John Adams's stubbornness in insisting that the anti-slavery clause remains in the Declaration results in the delegates from Georgia and the Carolinas walking out of the convention until the offending passage is removed, which almost makes Samuel Chase's of Maryland's decision to vote for independence pointless if the clause remained in the draft.
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: When Judge Wilson (though not really a Villain but definitely an antagonist) gives John Adams and Benjamin Franklin the means to delay the vote on Independence until the Declaration is written by mentioning earlier that they had to "define the nature of the beast."
* NotSoDifferent: "Molasses to Rum to Slaves" has Rutledge spotlight the North's complicity in the slave trade.
-->'''Rutledge''' [''extending one hand'']: "Hail Boston!"
-->'''Rutledge''' [''extending the other hand'']: "Hail Charleston!"
-->'''Rutledge''': "Who stinketh the most?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"
-->[''cue dramatic contentious closing music'']
* NotThatKindOfDoctor: Averted with Bartlett (though it's not touched on at all), as well as Hall. When asked if his doctorate was in medicine or theology, Hall cheerfully answers that it's actually both and asks Rodney which may be of service to him. Played straight with Franklin though, whose doctorate is an honorary one.
* NothingExcitingEverHappensHere: The members of the Congress are so bored that everybody rushes to the window when [=MacNair=] announces that the fire wagon has arrived nearby.
** In fairness, this is probably historically accurate. The appearance of a fire wagon attracted children and adults to the loud noises and interest in which building had caught fire.
* NavalBlockade: In the first scene Adams includes blockading the colonies' ports in his list of British atrocities while trying to spur Congress to action.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Averted. Hancock seems this, especially when he concurs for the requirement of unanimity. He is actually following the Rules of Order to the letter, giving Adams' faction every ''legal'' opportunity to advance the cause of Independence.
* AnOddPlaceToSleep: After delivering Martha to Thomas Jefferson, Adams imagines talking with his own wife Abigail, falling asleep at the bottom of the stairs to Jefferson's room. He even freshen up the next morning using a nearby rain barrel.
* OhCrap:
-->'''Edward Rutledge''': "I was wondering if you could repeat a small passage: The one beginning 'He has waged Cruel War'[[note]](the passage regarding slavery)[[/note]]" *Jefferson stands up abruptly*
** Moments earlier, when Rutledge takes the floor, Franklin murmurs to Adams, "Look out."
** Jefferson in "But, Mr. Adams" when he realizes he's the only one left to take the quill.
* TheOner: In the movie, the opening scene of Adams descending the staircase from the bell tower, entering the Continental Congress, and delivering his opening monologue before the first song is all one take. The filmmakers note in the DVD commentary how difficult it was building a camera rig that would give a smooth transition from descending from the ceiling into the Congress chamber. There's a noticeable bump as the camera is wheeled off the extending platform used to film the stairs part of the shot. Look for it when Adams stops to adjust his jacket.
* OneSceneTwoMonologues: The Continental Congress segments of "Sit Down, John" are a rare occasion on which this trope is pulled off well with singing.
* OneSteveLimit: Very much averted; three of the biggest characters (Adams, Dickinson, and Hancock) are all named John, plus there's Jonathan Witherspoon. Also, we have two Thomases (Jefferson and [=McKean=]), and, if we're counting TheGhost, two Georges (Washington and Read). Played somewhat straight, however, since the men use their last names most of the time.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Benjamin Franklin usually maintains a somewhat-facile demeanor of a jocular, [[DirtyOldMan randy older gentleman]]. It's when he drops the act and becomes earnest is when all stop to listen. Emphasized when, in debate with Dickinson, Franklin passionately describes the new people Americans have become and how they need a new nation: Dickinson, for once, is rendered momentarily speechless.
** And then, of course, there’s [[WhatTheHellHero “The issue here is independence!”]]
* OverUsedRunningGag: Lampshaded at the end of the "Lees of Old Virginia" reprise. Lee ''would'' keep going, if only Franklin and Adams were not forcib-Lee removing him from the stage. (All subsequent puns are met with John Adams reacting exasperated-Lee.)
* OverlyLongGag: The cards Hopkins had printed up, of which Franklin wants a dozen -- "Dear sir: You are, without any doubt, a rogue, a rascal, a villain, a thief, a scoundrel and a mean, dirty, stinking, sniveling, sneaking, pimping, pocket-picking, thrice double-damned no-good son-of-a-bitch."
* PerfectlyCromulentWord: "Unalienable" versus "inalienable."
* PhraseCatcher: Adams, dear Mr. Adams, is "obnoxious and disliked".
* PlaceWorseThanDeath: The City of Brotherly Love, which Adams reports on as "[[AddedAlliterativeAppeal foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy]] Philadelphia." Ben Franklin's home base was Philly, which doubtlessly colored the envious Adams' impressions of it.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: See ExecutiveMeddling; even so, the film is a remarkable paragon of historical accuracy and thus counts as an aversion.
* PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad: A clear demonstration that this attitude has been a part of American culture for longer than American culture has been American. Jefferson is eventually obliged to remove all mention of a war, the British parliament, and, more-dramatically, [[spoiler:slavery]]. He ''does'' draw the line at not calling the king a tyrant. The entire Congress's threshold snaps in a very different place, when one delegate objects that nowhere in Mr. Jefferson's declaration does he mentions deep-sea fishing rights.
* PowerTrio: Adams as id, Franklin as superego, Jefferson as ego.
* PungeonMaster: Lee using his name in place of "-ly." He does it extensive-Lee!
* TheQuietOne: Thomas Jefferson. He speaks a fair bit; he is certainly not a mute like most examples of this Trope. He just doesn't have as much dialogue as Adams or Franklin despite being about as important to the plot as them. When he DOES speak, it MATTERS.
* TheQuisling: Dickinson is the chief opponent in Adams' quest for independence. He is well-connected, rich, and--worst of all--silver-tongued.
-->'''Dickinson:''' ''(to Adams)'' Is that all England means to you, sir? Is that all the pride and affection you can muster for the nation that bore you? For the noblest, most civilized nation on the planet? Would you have us forsake Hastings and Magna Carta, Strongbow and Lionheart, Drake and Marlborough, Tudors, Stuarts, and Plantagenets? For what, sir? Tell me, for what? For ''you?'' Heh. Some men are patriots like General Washington. And others are anarchists, like Mr. Paine. Some, even, are internationalists, like Dr. Franklin. But ''you'', sir? ''You'' are [[PretenderDiss merely an agitator]]. Disturbing the peace, creating disorder, endangering the public welfare! And for what? Your petty little personal problems, your taxes are too high. Well, sir, ''so are mine!''
* RabbleRouser: Adams is ''not'' one, but Dickinson tries to portray him as one in his efforts to turn the congress against independence.
* RagTagBunchOfMisfits:
** The Founding Fathers definitely qualify.
--->'''Franklin:''' What will posterity think we were? Demi-gods? We're men, no more no less, trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed.
** General Washington describes the Continental Army this way almost verbatim.
--->'''Washington (in a dispatch read by Thomson):''' Dear sir, it with the utmost despair that I must report to you the disorder and confusion that reign in every department. The Continental Soldier is as nothing ever seen in this or any other century. He is a misfit, ignorant of hygiene, destructive, disorderly and totally disrespectful of rank. Only this last is understandable, as there is an incredible reek of stupidity amongst the officers. The situation is most desperate at the New Jersey training ground in New Brunswick, where every able-bodied whore in the colonies has assembled. There are constant reports of drunkenness, desertion, foul language, naked bathing in the Raritan River, and an epidemic of The French Disease. [Syphilis]
* RealityIsUnrealistic:
** In the DVDCommentary recorded many, many years later, the play's writer revealed that he originally intended Adams to note that if they leave in the slavery clause, war would break out in about a century, in yet another example of lifting dialogue directly from the founders' writings. He used only the second half of the quote, "posterity will never forgive us," because he was afraid people would think it was him speaking in hindsight, rather than an ''actual historic observation'' by (Sam) Adams.
** In something of a meta-example (and another use of Adams' own writings), Adams' comment to Franklin about history forgetting him and focusing exclusively on Franklin and Washington (and Washington's horse) is dead-on -- until well into the twentieth century, Adams' pivotal role in getting the Declaration passed and signed was almost systematically overlooked by historians besotted with the more traditionally heroic Washington and the poly-competent Franklin. The horse was an embellishment of the writers', however.
** Creator/RogerEbert (and probably others) blasted the film version in [[http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19721226/REVIEWS/212260301/1023 his review]] calling it "an insult to the real men who were Adams Jefferson, Franklin and the rest" for being an unrealistic portrayal, unaware just how much of the conflict was true.
* RhetoricalQuestionBlunder: "But, Mr. Adams" --
-->'''Adams:''' Now then, sir, will you be a patriot? Or a lover?\\
'''Jefferson:''' A lover.\\
'''Adams:''' ''No!''
* RuleAbidingRebel: Played for drama ''and'' comedy, as many of the delegates (or even most) are not at all sure whether they ''are'' intending to rebel against the crown permanently. And [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold John Adams]] isn't necessarily the best ambassador of his cause.
-->'''Adams:''' This is a ''revolution'', dammit! We're going to have to offend ''somebody!''
* RuleOfThree:
** "I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and three or more ''become a Congress''!!"
** "Law practice down the pipe. Farm mortgaged to the hilt. At a stage when most men prosper, I am reduced to ''[[RockBottom living in Philadelphia]].''" (This could also be considered an example of ArsonMurderAndJaywalking.)
* RunningGag: Several, with different scopes: John Adam's being obnoxious and disliked being the most obvious -- and, like many of the others, historically accurate.
** Thomson's repeated interruptions.
--->'''Thomson:''' Oh, for heaven's sake, let me get through it ''once''!
** Benjamin Franklin invented the stove. The musical makes sure we know it.
** The HeatWave, and whether or not they should open the windows.
** "[[DuckSeasonRabbitSeason Saltpeter!"/"Pins!]]"
** New York abstains (courteously).
*** This becomes a {{Berserk Button}} for John Hancock.
--->"Mr. Morris... ''What in hell goes on in New York?!''"
*** Jefferson borrows the phrase, for "Virginia abstains," in a slightly different context.
** The absence of the New Jersey delegation (because it's stuck somewhere between New York and Pennsylvania)
** Hopkins and the rum gags, hollering out for [=MacNair=] to fetch him something. John Hancock joins in once.
** "...Except for Ben Franklin."
** Every letter from the army is from your obedient -- ''[[DrumRollPlease drumroll]]'' -- G. Washington.
** Subverted by James Wilson of Pennsylvania, who, in an attempt to keep the Congress from ignoring him, keeps seconding fellow Pennsylvanian John Dickinson's motions even though each delegation only has one vote. [[spoiler:Until the moment he breaks with Dickinson to cast the deciding vote on independence in a poll of the Pennsylvania delegation. Franklin deliberately points out that now all eyes are on him, "every mapmaker in the world is waiting for your decision," and he can't bring himself to agree with Dickinson and go down in history as the man who prevented American independence]].
** Richard Henry Lee's addiction to adverbs. He uses them constant-[[VerbalTic LEE!]]
** John Hancock's flyswatter.
* SarcasmFailure: At the beginning:
-->'''[=MacNair=]:''' Better get yourself back down to Congress, Mister Adams. Gettin' ready to vote, and they say they can't settle such an important question without Massachusetts bein' there.\\
'''Adams:''' ''(bored)'' I can just imagine. All right, what burning issue are we voting on this time?\\
'''[=MacNair=]:''' ''(earnest)'' On whether or not to grant General Washington's request... that all members of the Rhode Island Militia be required to wear matchin' uniforms.\\
'''Adams:''' ...Oh, good God.
* SelfDeprecation:
** "Two [useless men] are called a law firm." John Adams was a lawyer -- in particular, he was famous for defending the British soldiers after the Boston Massacre.
** Adams could have been aiming a bit of self-deprecating humor at himself and/or a TakeThat at his lazy contemporaries, much like when he decries the Congress he's a part of.
** Later in the song he does it again:
-->'''Adams:''' Good God consider yourselves fortunate that you have [[ThirdPersonPerson John Adams]] to abuse, for no ''sane'' man would ''tolerate'' it!
* ShapedLikeItself is combined with TheyreCalledPersonalIssuesForAReason:
-->'''Hall:''' I'm here without instructions, able to vote my own personal convictions.\\
'''Rutledge:''' ''(menacingly)'' And they are...?\\
'''Hall:''' (coolly) ''Personal.''
** Inverted in the song "Cool, Cool Considerate Men", several verse lead-ins resemble patriotic songs that then change into the song exhorting the desire to protect what they have and not "risk losing". Benjamin Franklin later comments "Those who would give up essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
* ShoutOut[=/=]CallForward: Washington's dispatch about "drinking and whoring" in New Brunswick, UsefulNotes/NewJersey is historically accurate, but it is almost certainly also a reference to that city's playing host to Rutgers University--which would be well-known to the New York-based writers (particularly Charles Edwards, being as he was raised in Newark and settled in Parsippany) as a place for debauchery. Witherspoon's reaction is also a bit of a sly joke about what parents used to think about the town until their children actually get there.
* TheShowMustGoOn: Real-life example: Howard da Silva insisted on doing all three of the opening "press" performances right after his heart attack, although he could barely walk.
* ShownTheirWork: A book on the play notes what parts were accurate, what parts were left out, and what parts were admittedly fudged for the sake of the narrative.
* SittingOnTheRoof: John Adams can be found in the bell steeple whenever he's most upset.
* SmartPeopleKnowLatin: Edward Rutledge, although in this context it's more a marker of social class. [[BookDumb Col. McKean]] mistakes it for French.
* SmiteMeOMightySmiter: John denouncing God for stranding him in Philly with these [[SurroundedByIdiots idiots.]]
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: These are, after all, the Founding ''Fathers''. As far as the cast of characters is concerned, the only women present are Martha Jefferson and Abigail Adams, the latter only appearing in dream sequences, speaking her letters to John.
* SouthernGentleman: Edward Rutledge is this, very much.
* SurroundedByIdiots: John Adams' lament up until near the end, echoed by George Washington's dispatch about the "reek of stupidity" among his officers. Ben Franklin straightens him out by telling him that his fellow congressmen are "not ribbon clerks to be ordered about. They're proud, accomplished men; the cream of their colonies...Now either learn how to live with them, or pack up and go home!"
* {{Tableau}}: The final moments of the film -- and the play -- reproduce [[http://www.todayifoundout.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/founding-fathers-declaration-of-independence.jpg this painting]].
* TakeThat:
** "I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, [[SelfDeprecation that two are called a law firm]], and three or more ''become a Congress''!!" This is never, ever, not relevant.
** The New York legislature gets it particularly hard. New York only ever [[StiffUpperLip abstains]] [[InsistentTerminology ("Courteously!")]] when called upon to vote, because the New York Legislature had never bothered to ''give'' the New York delegation any instructions, as "they all talk very loud, and very fast, and nobody listens to anybody else, with the result that nothing ever gets done." This was just as true in 1972 as it was in 1776, and as any New Yorker will tell you, it's ''still'' true today. In the show's Broadway debut, this line got the biggest laugh out of all of them.
--->'''Morris:''' To Hell with New York, I'll sign the damned thing anyway.
* TemptingFate: When Adams tries to convince Chase of Maryland that they can win the war against England, he lays it on a little too thick.
-->'''Adams:''' Why, as chairman of the war committee, I can state for a fact that the Army has never been in better shape. Never have troops been more cheerful. Never have soldiers been more resolute! Never have training and discipline been more ''spirited!'' ''([[BearerOfBadNews the courier]] enters)'' [[OhCrap Oh, good God]].
* ToiletHumor: "Rhode Island passes"; also the "calling an ox a bull" exchange.
* {{Tritagonist}}: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson on the side of independence from Britain.
** Dickinson and Rutledge, in favor of having the colonies remaining as British territories, can be considered the deuteragonists and foils to Adams, Jefferson and Franklin.
* TruthInTelevision:
** Vast amounts of dialogue and even song lyrics were lifted ''intact'' from the writings of the various Founding Fathers. In particular, "obnoxious and disliked" was ''John Adams' own description'' many decades after the fact of how he felt he was viewed by the Founders and the nation in general (although many historians feel he was an [[UnreliableNarrator unreliable narrator]] in this respect), and his duets and discussions with the mental image of his wife Abigail are composed of passages from their letters to each other -- including the "Saltpeter!"/"Pins!" RunningGag. Some of the most poetic passages, including "write to me with sentimental effusion", are direct quotes.
** Similarly, every motion made on the floor of Congress, and every modification proposed or made to the Declaration (including the briefly heard objection about it not mentioning deep-sea fishing rights!) come directly from either the Congressional minutes or Jefferson's own notes from the revision of the Declaration into its final form.
** The five dispatches read during the play are all composed of snippets taken from General Washington's actual dispatches.
** Thomson recorded the final vote as 12 to nothing, with one abstention, but his records don't state if it was indeed New York.
** And even though the passage of the Declaration did not in actuality work out to a nail-biting final vote the way the movie portrays, Judge Wilson did in fact switch sides at the very last minute, changing Pennsylvania's vote from "nay" to "yea"; his reason for this has been debated by historians for decades.
* VictorianNovelDisease: Played very straight with Delaware delegate Caesar Rodney, who had skin cancer that was killing him at the time of the Continental Congress, although it's dramatically ''underplayed'' with the small patch covering his cheek -- in truth, Rodney was missing literally ''half of his face'' due to primitive surgery/cauterization treatments and kept the afflicted area hidden under a green kerchief wrapped around his head. However, he was not quite so near his deathbed as depicted here. His eighty-mile ride during a thunderstorm, suffering the effects of the cancer and asthma, is no less impressive, but he was absent because he was trying to stiffen the spines of his fellow Delawareans. The cancer itself took his life in 1784.
* VillainSong: "Cool, Considerate Men" fits, "Molasses to Rum" defines.
* VitriolicBestBuds: Franklin is as embarrassed by John's blowhard attitude as everybody else in Congress, but does his level best to save Adams's bacon whenever he can. Adams is put off by Franklin's libertine lifestyle even as he recognizes Franklin to be the brain trust of his revolution, a harsh truth which diminishes his own contributions; in a droll scene, he predicts Franklin will wind up taking credit for the whole thing. But, at the end of the day, their constant sniping is generally affectionate, and the two men manage to cooperate and collude enough to get the Declaration made and signed.
** Adams and Jefferson. Adams is loud, demanding, and abrasive to Jefferson, while Jefferson quietly snarks back when they're in private. But Jefferson smoothly saves the floundering Adams by providing the justification for the Declaration, even winking to let him know he's got this, and Adams is sympathetic enough to him to send for his wife when he can't go home to visit her. The historical Adams and Jefferson were close friends up until their presidencies, when their political differences got too bitter, but they eventually reconciled.
* VolleyingInsults: "Coward!" "Madman!" [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking "Landlord!"]] [[BerserkButton "Lawyer!"]]
* WarIsHell:
** "Mama, Look Sharp." A young militiaman, not even a soldier, dies alone and calling for his mother.
** Thomson, who has been unfailingly dull throughout the story, chokes back tears when reading Washington's lament over sending so many boys to their deaths.
--->'''Thomson:''' Lately, I get the feeling he's been writing to ''me''.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: One of the big, big takeaways from the play is that independence was a ForegoneConclusion only in the hindsight of history. Moreover, the victory of the independence movement was built on a lot of backroom dealing and hustling. And what's more, the new nation's ability to back the Declaration was and would remain in serious question for at least half a decade.
* WelcomeEpisode: Dr. Lyman Hall's arrival at Congress allows the audience to meet all the remaining (important) members of the cast.
* WhamLine: "Just a moment. I ask that the delegation be polled."
* WhatTheHellHero: All the damn time to Adams. And he always deserves it, too. "Molasses to Rum" is this for the entire North.
** Even long-suffering Franklin gets tired of Adams' holier-than-thou antics when he crosses the line and impugns Franklin's anti-slavery "credentials". Kindly light-hearted old Ben lets him have it with both barrels:
-->'''Franklin''': ''The issue here is Independence!'' Maybe you've lost sight of that fact but I have not! How ''dare'' you jeopardize our cause, when we've come so far? These men, no matter how much we may disagree with them, are not ribbon clerks to be ordered about! They are proud, accomplished men, the cream of their colonies. And whether you like them or not, they and the people they represent will be part of this new nation that YOU hope to create. Now, either learn how to live with them, or pack up and go home, but in any case, stop acting like a Boston fishwife!
* WildCard: Lyman Hall, the new delegate from Georgia. Cautiously, he sticks to the party line of the southerners, but overrules them by the end.
* WorthyOpponent: When Dickinson says "I regard America no less than does Mr Adams," he's not kidding; Adams and Dickinson are portrayed as both fundamentally good men and true patriots who merely differ on what they believe is best for their country. As Dickinson resigns from Congress, unable to sign the Declaration in good conscience, and sadly leaves to join the Army, Adams leads the delegates in rapping the tables with their knuckles (in the German tradition) in salute. Dickinson would later go on to sign the United States Constitution.
-->'''John Adams''': Gentlemen of the Congress, I say ye, John Dickinson!
* WritersBlock: Jefferson, in regards to the Declaration, much to the consternation of Adams.
-->'''John Adams:''' Do you mean to say that it is not yet ''finished?''
-->'''Thomas Jefferson:''' No sir. I mean to say that it is not yet begun.
* YouNeedToGetLaid: Jefferson spends a week struggling with WritersBlock. His wife arrives, and suddenly all is well.
** It's heavily implied that John Adams' obnoxious attitude is at least somewhat due to his not being able to be with Abigail. ''Another'' piece of trivia lifted straight from history; John openly admitted in an early letter to Abigail that the longer he's apart from her, the crankier he gets, and he'd been away from her for quite awhile by the time the musical is set.
* YourLittleDismissiveDiminutive: Addressing Jefferson, Edward Rutledge refers to the Declaration of Independence as "your little paper there."
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: Discussed quite a bit. Dickinson claims that it's always Boston starting the trouble[[note]]and to be fair, they could get pretty nasty[[/note]] and views independence as a road to anarchy and mob rule, while he prefers to reconcile with Mother England. Franklin also provides a couple of pithy quotes:
-->''"Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers."''\\
''"Rebellion is always legal in the first person, as in ''our'' rebellion! It is only in the third person, ''their'' rebellion, that it becomes illegal."''