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Synopsis

A new period of separation from Abigail looms when Adams is appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France along with Benjamin Franklin. Their mission is to secure French financial and military support for America's Revolutionary War effort. Abigail insists that Adams take along their son, John Quincy. The two endure a rough ocean voyage - and a skirmish with a British warship - in making their way to France. Their arduous journey includes the deaths of several seamen and impresses upon Adams the human costs of war. Once John and John Quincy arrive in France, the difference in styles between Adams and Franklin, the relaxed libertine, become apparent. As Abigail dines with a French Admiral in her husband's stead back home, Adams endures a series of uncomfortable encounters in Paris. His strident demands that France increase their naval commitment to America's war effort upsets the French diplomats and draws the wrath of Franklin, whose credo is that a good diplomat "can accomplish much by appearing to accomplish little." Vexed after learning Franklin has been appointed sole minister to France, Adams heads to Holland to solicit funds, with little initial success. After sending John Quincy to Russia to serve as secretary to the American envoy there, Adams falls victim to a long illness and fever, helpless to further advance the revolution he helped spawn.

Young John Quincy Adams looks through eyeglass on boat

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