Saturday night we watched the first two episodes of the 2008 HBO series "John Adams." John Adams was the first vice president, the second president, the father of the Adams dynasty. I remember seeing his wife Abigail's dresses on display, among other first ladies' dresses, and thinking she was impossibly small. When was that? Could it have been when I was twelve and we were visiting Washington, DC? It doesn't matter . . . not when I saw the dress, nor anything about Mrs. Adams' dresses. When I was very young and learned the history of the United States (our history was a huge deal back in the 1950s, maybe not so much now) I came away with the impression that the colonists knew they would end up being an independent country, and there was just all this red tape to go through . . . battles and stuff . . . before it all got settled.
The show's second episode ended with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Right after the Continental Congress' vote to declare independence from England, all the members were silent for a while, looking around at each other, apparently contemplating the treasonous act they'd just performed. I know it's dramatized, but it seems likely that those men must have spent some long moments considering the uncertainty of their several and collective futures. It had never occurred to me that they had any measure of doubt or fear, but of course they would have, wouldn't they?
Most of these good shows already have been seen by everybody in the world except me, but I do recommend it. The cast is great. Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, David Morse, Tom Wilkinson, Boris McGiver.
Mr. McGiver has only a small role in the first episode, but he is a personal favorite of mine. I like his face.