1776 Essay Research Paper 1776Broadway s version

1776 Essay, Research Paper


Broadway s version of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of

Independence is portrayed in 1776. It has representatives of the original thirteen colonies

that gathered in the swealtering heat of a Philadelphia summer as the Continental

Congress argued. Within itself, it is divided over the question of American

Independence. The men have grown tired of listening to John Adams’ repeated pleas for

Independence. In fact, Adams himself had grown weary of the delegates’ ability to agree

on anything, let alone an issue as important as Independence. Adams explains his

situation, and tells his frustrations to his wife, through letters and imagined


Adams and Ben Franklin ultimately decide that, since Adams’ is only looked upon

as “obnoxious and disliked”, the only way to get a resolution of independence introduced

to Congress, is to persuade another delgate, Virginia s Richard Henry Lee, to make the


Lee returns from Virgina with the proposal, opening up the issue to debate.

Adams argues with Pennsylvania s John Dickinson, who is strongly opposed to

independence. After much battle, the proposal gets put up for vote, but not before

Dickinson insures that the vote must be unanimous. Adams and Franklin suggest the

writing of a “declaration”, to spell out “their goals and aims” and “reasons for separation”.

The Members of Congress assigned to the Declaration Committee (Franklin,

Adams, Roger Sherman of CT, and Robert Livingston of NY) avoid writing the

document, and elect the well written Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, however, is unable to

concentrate starting the document because he is thinking for the young bride he left

behind in Virginia 6 months earlier. Adams calls for Mrs. Jefferson to come to

Philadelphia, believing that “the sooner his problem is solved, the sooner our problem

will be solved.”

Dickinson, meanwhile, tries to keep the opposition to Adams in tact while,

General George Washinton’s courierrepeatedly brings discouraging dispatches from the


The Declaration finally written, Adams and Franklin convince Jefferson of the

genius and strength of his words, but are quickly disheartened to see Congress pick the

document apart with no remorse. Jefferson agrees to smaller, insignificant criticisms of

the Declaration, but stands his ground when the abolition of slavery is unimpassionately

challenged by South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge.

With half of the Congress walking out with Rutledge, Adams’ dreams of

independence appear to be over. However, one by one, individual delegates begin to

come around to Adams’ side. In a major compromise, Jefferson resentfuly agrees to

remove the slavery clause in order to win back the two Carolinas. A split Delaware vote

goes back in favor of Adams when a dying Caesar Rodney is brought to Philadelphia

from his death bed.

Pennsylvania becomes the last step for Adams. While Franklin is clearly on his

side, Dickinson is against him. The other Pennsylvania delegate, the (follow the crowd)

James Wilson, has long been on Dickinson s side. But when the final vote takes place,

and it is Wilson’s vote that will make Independence either live or die, Wilson s vote with

Franklin in order to “remain one of many” rather than “be remembered as the man who

prevented American Independence”.


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