- The film's opening shot, a remarkably complicated Oner for the time.
- For Southerners who are tired of being reminded that they supported slavery, "Molasses to Rum" serves as a satisfying reminder that the North wasn't blameless in the matter either.
- Abigail Adams, while struggling to keep a failing farm solvent, caring for sick children, and facing the very real prospect that the war could arrive on her doorstep, nevertheless rallies the Massachusetts Bay-area women together to make saltpeter. The kegs arrive at John's feet wrapped in bows, just when he was beginning to lose faith in himself and his cause.
Compliments of the Concord Ladies Coffee Club,
And the Sisterhood of the Truro Synagogue,
And the Friday evening Baptist Sewing Circle,
And the Holy Christian Sisters of Saint Clare...
- "Is Anybody There?" for Adams.
- Made doubly awesome because the lines about fireworks and parades and all are accurate to his letters - he knew exactly how the US would celebrate on July 4th every year (although he predicted July 2nd).
- While Adams despairs in the hall, thinking himself alone after the Southern states had stormed out over the slavery issue, Lyman Hall returns that night:
Hall: In trying to resolve my dilemma I remembered something I'd once read, that '...a representative owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion.' It was written by Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament. (Hall moves Georgia's vote into the Yea column)
- Dickinson sticking by his beliefs and voting against the Declaration, then leaving Congress and joining the Army rather than signing a document he can't believe in. Now that is "courage of conviction".
- In a meta sense, the play reminds American audiences just how hard it was getting independence in the first place.
- Another meta one: the reason John Adams doesn't appear onstage in Hamilton is because William Daniels' performance is so iconic that Lin-Manuel Miranda knew he could get away with letting the audience picture it. This led to a Heartwarming Moment when Daniels lived to see this happen at age 88, and even did a joint interview with Miranda about how much this and his other famous role Mr. Feeney were an influence on the younger man.
- Also meta: Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda did with the aforementioned Alexander Hamilton, 1776 took a mostly-forgotten Founding Father and made him relevant again. John Adams was recognized by the other Founding Fathers as a very crucial personage to the success of independence, but was largely overshadowed in public memory by Franklin's charisma, Jefferson's brilliance, and Washington's gravitas.note 1776 caused historians to look at his contributions more closely, and paved the way for adaptations of later material like John Adams.
- Richard Nixon invited the Broadway cast to perform at the White House—but wanted them to cut the song "Cool, Cool Considerate Men." William Daniels noted that negotiations went on for a year, but they insisted on performing the song as written, and Dickinson actor Paul Hecht performed it vehemently. The DVD commentary also points out that Howard da Silvanote immediately got up the next morning and joined the protests outside the White House in penance, and to this day, Daniels refers to the song by its original title, "Cool, Cool Conservative Men." Nixon did convince Jack Warner to cut the song from the film version, but the editor saved the footage and it was restored on the DVD release.
William Daniels: [They wanted it cut] Because it was about them.