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“No, posterity, you will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”
“You could not be, nor did I wish to see you, an inactive spectator.”
Those are just two moments of concluding dialogue from HBO’s “John Adams,” a seven-part series, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
The first quote is John Adams, speaking to the posterity of Americans, who are the beneficiaries of his life’s work, and the work of all the founding fathers. Is he repenting in heaven, all these centuries later, for the sacrifices made on our behalf?
The second quote is from Abigail Adams. She is reflecting on her life with John, especially his many and lengthy absences from their family. Throughout the series, Abigail is a key figure, presented as a trusted advisor, if not an equal, to John.
Has this notion of America proved worthy of their sacrifice made during the founding? Or is she repenting in heaven?
Another moment I clearly remember is President George Washington, standing at a window, looking out on a mob, raging with shouts and fire, about a treaty with France.
Washington reflected, “I’m weary of being unpopular.” The next scene he was stepping down, and mention was made of how his character shone in his willingness to give up power. Power he could easily have kept or expanded.
I found myself wondering if Washington stepped down, to check his own fears of abusing power? Was he afraid of acquiescing to popularity, rather than sound judgment?
The final quote I’ll share is Adams saying, “A mob is still a mob, even when they agree with you.” That speaks for itself, and even if he didn’t say that, the idea is as relevant today, as it was in the 1790s.
I really enjoyed this series. I’m not sure if the dialogue is from quotes or letters, or other written history. At the very least dialogue was crafted to seamlessly meld history and artistic license.
I rejoiced Abigail and John’s triumphs. I wept in their sorrows, many of which were rooted in Adam’s commitment to duty and country. I found myself in awe of what our founding fathers, their families, and the citizenry, overcame, during the birth of our nation.
Has anyone else watched this series? What is your takeaway?