John Adams | Season 1 | Episode 2


TV-14 | 1 HR 32 MIN

Written by Kirk Ellis
Directed by Tom Hooper

Following a fruitless session of the Continental Congress, a sabbatical at Adams' Braintree farm is disrupted by news of the attack on Lexington and Concord. Adams witnesses the aftermath of the bloody battle, and later reports back to Philadelphia. There, he jousts with delegates debating the pros and cons of independence, eschewing an olive-branch proposal from Pennsylvania's John Dickinson and throwing down the gauntlet for independence. As more violence rages in and around Boston, Adams nominates George Washington to lead the newly created Continental Army. After another brief return home, Adams returns to Philadelphia - and a proclamation from King George III that treason will be met with death. After several debates and postponements, Adams seconds a resolution for independence proposed by Virginia's Richard Henry Lee, and persuades Thomas Jefferson to draft a declaration. With the support of Benjamin Franklin, Adams wins over skeptical delegates, in particular, South Carolina's Edward Rutledge and convinces opponents like Dickinson to step out of the path to independence. On July 2, 1776, a final vote confirms the Congress' near-unanimous decision - New York abstained - to declare independence from England. On July 4, 1776, a document drafted by Thomas Jefferson and affirming that declaration is adopted by the Congress. While Abigail tends to an outbreak of smallpox in Massachusetts, the Declaration of Independence is read to a raucous crowd in Philadelphia. Adams writes to his wife, "The break is made, and now our work begins."