This week I’ll be featuring plays for my blog entries. When possible, I will include not only a link to the text of the play, but also one to a video of the play’s production.
The musical 1776 tells the story of the Second Continental Congress, and the founding of America. The play opens as John Adams expresses his disgust with the Congress’s indecisiveness, and unwillingness to discuss the subject of independence. He demands that the representatives vote on the topic, and in a rash move to prevent the idea being voted down Adams demands that an uneager Thomas Jefferson compose the Declaration. In addition to these political matters, the personal lives of the characters also come into play, and give these revered historical figures humanity and realism.
As the final vote on the topic of independence draws near many debates come to a head, some serious, and some comical. The primary antagonist to independence is Mr. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. He believes that independence is rebellious and treasonous. Benjamin Franklin sets him straight: “Why, Mr. Dickinson, I’m surprised at you! You should know that rebellion is always legal in the first person – such as ‘our’ rebellion. It is only in the third person – ‘their’ rebellion – that it is illegal.” Dickinson is not alone in his opinion, however, and our founding fathers, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin rush to ensure that the final vote on independence will go in their favor.
A historical note by the authors follows the text of the play, and is a fantastic feature. It provides insight as to how much of the play is “true”.