- "But Mr. Adams."
- This observation after roll call:
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.
- Combined moment of Awesome and Funny: "NEVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! NEVAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
- "Mr. Morris. WHAT IN HELL GOES ON IN NEW YORK?!"
- "Are you calling me a madman, you... you fribble?!" (And the ensuing name-calling and bitch fight.)
- Made funnier by the fact that Adams actually was a lawyer.
- As was Dickinson.
- Also fribble is an actual word along with piddle, twiddle, pish posh, gay, and queer.
- "FIRE WAGON!!" MacNair's delighted face and his trembling with excitement really makes the scene. And then nearly the entire congress of grown men race outside like a bunch of children to see what's on fire.
- Adams' morose worry that for all his effort to make America free, his contributions would never be known (the quote comes straight out of history, too):
: Don't worry, John. The history books will clean it up. Adams
: It doesn't matter. 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 by themselves.
: I like it.
- Pretty much everything Ben Franklin says. He was pretty much our nation's first Deadpan Snarker.
Franklin: (to arriving delegate Dr. Lyman Hall) "What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a Great Man before?"
- New York abstains.
- Lee's over-Lee enthusiastic attitude.
Adams: Spoken modest-Lee. God help us!
- Jefferson's initial failure to write the Declaration.
Adams: Do you mean to tell me that it is not yet finished?
Jefferson: No, sir. I mean to say that it is not yet begun.
Adams: Good God. A whole week! The entire earth was created in a week!
Jefferson: Someday, you must tell me how you did it.
Adams: Disgusting. Look at him, Franklin! Virginia's most famous lover!
Jefferson: Virginia abstains.
- "A NEETION OF BRRRRBARIANS!?"
- Adams realizing that Jefferson and his wife were having the 18th century equivalent of a booty call:
Adams: You mean they're going to... in the middle of the afternoon??
Franklin: Not everybody's from Boston, John!
- "This is a REVOLUTION, dammit! We're going to have to offend SOMEBODY!"
- Adams finally brings up one last quibble about the Declaration: arguing that the word is "unalienable" not "inalienable":
Jefferson: I'm sorry, Mr. Adams, but "Inalienable" is correct.
Adams: I happen to be a Harvard graduate, Mr. Jefferson. (some laughs from congress)
Jefferson: Well, I attended William & Mary. (more cheers)
Hancock: Mr. Jefferson, will you concede to Mr. Adams' request?
Jefferson (relishing the moment): No, sir, I will not.
Adams (realizes he can't win): Oh, very well, I withdraw it!
Franklin: Oh, good for you, John!
- Adams mutters under his breath he'll talk to the printer later and change it then.
- Adams being a combination of extremely awkward and irritated when Martha arrives and she and Jefferson start kissing so passionately they become oblivious to anything else.
"[pointedly looking away from the scene] Jefferson, kindly introduce me to your wife! [looks back at them] She is your wife, isn't she?"
- John and Abigail's first song in "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve," both of them completely unimpressed with the other's problems:
- In response to the long list of things going wrong at home, Adams replies "Madam, what else is new?"*
- When John demands to know why the ladies aren't making saltpeter, Abigail points out that he didn't tell them how it's done.
- That this is met with Abigail's "more urgent" problem: a pin shortage in Massachusetts, which she demands that John resolve before she sends him saltpeter—and wins.
- John's lament at God. He lists all the different disasters and plagues that might have afflicted the American continent, concluding with: "But no; you sent us Congress! Good God, sir, was that fair?"
- "The Lees of Old Virginia." Franklin's wheedling, Lee serving a large helping of ham quite generous-Lee, and Adams as a wholly unwilling participant in the entire number. After it's over, he calls in "the most revolting display I ever witnessed." Not Lee, Franklin, for inciting it.
- It gets even better in the movie: when Lee returns for his unexpected reprise, Adams winds up falling into the fountain.
- The argument over whether the national bird is going to be an eagle, a dove... or a turkey.
- Jefferson sings along with the delegates during "But, Mr Adams," happily helping support the other committee members' reasons not to be the drafter, until he realizes that only leaves Adams, who's "obnoxious and disliked," and himself, meaning he couldn't leave for Virginia.
- "Sit Down, John," where Congress goes between telling Adams to shut up and trying desperately to ignore him.
Chase: "Someone oughta' ooooooopen up a window!"
Adams: "Will you listen to me and forget the window?!"
Congress: "It's ninety degrees, have mercy, John, please! It's hot as hell, in Philadel-phia!"
- At the beginning:
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.
- If you ever believe that shows like South Park are corrupting Americans, take some twisted comfort in the fact that our founding fathers were finding amusement in comparing themselves to castrated bulls.
- This exchange between Franklin and Adams:
Franklin: Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.
Adams: I have more to do than to sit here and listen to you quote yourself.
Franklin: Oh, that was a new one!