Due to travels, it's taken me a little extra time to catch up on the last four episodes of HBO's "John Adams" Miniseries (based on the book John Adamsby David McCullough), but I've finally completed the set, and thought I'd take a moment to comment. Overall, I liked the series, though I never full adjusted to Paul Giamatti in the lead role. He seemed to grow into the role eventually (particularly as Adams ages), but in the end, I wasn't fully convinced. That's not to say that I could think of any other actor who might have done a better job.
I truly enjoyed Laura Linney in the role of Abigail Adams. To me, it was refreshing to see her playing a strong, intelligent woman instead of her typical neurotic characters. And, she did a remarkable job. The tale of Abigail Adams is one that should be instructive to everyone, representing how to be general wise and discrete. She also sets what appeared to be an excellent example for a first lady (or first spouse, if you will).
Overall, though I admire the works and quotes of Founding Fathers such as Jefferson and Franklin, and much admire the quiet personality of our first president, George Washington, I feel after watching the movie that I probably have more in common with Adams than the others. I've had troubles with holding my tongue, and have often felt misunderstood while trying to do the right thing. I only hope some day to accomplish a small portion of what he did through his life. I also view some of the troubles he experienced as being instructive.
Without dragging on endless, I few very brief observations:
* I think I recalled that the President and Vice President were elected separately in the beginning, but the implications of such never fully occurred to me. When John Adams was elected President, Thomas Jefferson was elected Vice President. They were not only from opposing parties, but those parties were already very much at odds with each other.
* As much as I admire his quotes and philosophies, Thomas Jefferson acted as a very mean, bad person as a politician. He allegedly paid for damaging broadsides against President Adams while serving as his Vice President. To me, this is quite disappointing, but part of the bad that we must take with the good (much as is the case of FDR and the Japanese internment camps).
* The miniseries casts Adams as being highly reluctant to sign the Alien and Sedition Acts for which he is most remembered. Adams is portrayed as responding to what he perceives as being overwhelming public support for the measures.
* If the quotes in the movie are to be believed, Adams was considerably self-aware of his place in history.
* One quote from the movie, upon the death of Abigail Adams, was quite interesting. John Adams, in being urged to resume correspondence with Thomas Jefferson, was reminded that in the formation of the country, he and Jefferson represented the north and south magnetic poles that helped put and keep the country on course. I found that to be a very interesting turn of phrase.
* It was very nice that Adams lived to see his son, John Quincy, become the 6th president of the USA.
* I'd always known Adams and Jefferson died the same day, and maybe even that they died on July 4th, but I didn't realized that 1826, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country via the Declaration of Independence.
* Adams, in leaving the White House, road off in a horse-equivalent "bus" declaring "quit gawking at me - I'm just plain John now." :)
Links of Interest:
- John Adams
- John Quincy Adams
- Thomas Jefferson
- US Declaration of Independence
- Biography of John Adams
- HBO Miniseries: John Adams
- Internet Public Library: John Adams
- USHistory.org: John Adams