This is my first 1776 fanfic, though I am a long time history nerd and fan of the amazing play! I just want to say that I do not own 1776 or the "10 things" idea. I have seen it done by many authors on this site before (for various topics) and I don't know who did it first, but they own it and not me. No one has done a "10 things" for 1776 yet, and I felt it needed to be done. I hope you like it and will review, b/c reviews keep me writing!
NOTE: While many events in this fanfic are based on historical happenings, not all of it is true. Combined information was taken from 1776, John Adams by David McCullough, and various online resources. If you know that something is very, very historically inaccurate, you can certainly let me know, but please don't flame. After all, there's a reason why it is fanfiction. :)
1. He despises that green frock coat. That stupid, silky, awful green frock coat.
It always seems to be in the one place where John Adams never wants it to be. He will never forget the day he stood up in Congress to discuss the issue of independency for only the second time ever. The coat was not there; its owner was absent. He grinned with joy as he looked upon the empty seat. He then began to discuss the possibility—or necessity, in his personal vocabulary—of independency from Great Britain.
All eyes were on him, enraptured by his words. The words flowed from his mouth as if he had been born speaking them. He looked straight into the gaping eyes and occasionally tapped his walking stick on the ground to emphasize his points. It was his moment in the sun.
That was when a flash of green in the doorway of the meeting room caught his eye.
"Forgive my tardiness, gentlemen!" John Dickinson strutted into the room draped in emerald glory, swinging his walking stick about as he came. His best friend and Congressional patsy, James Wilson, trailed behind him in a much less noticeable manner. Adams remembered Dickinson looking at him, raising his eyebrows coolly, and then sighing in disgust. "Oh no, not THIS issue again. Mr. President…" He turned towards John Hancock in the chair and smirked deviously. "Pennsylvania moves that the debate on this issue be postponed. Perhaps to next month? Or even better, next year?"
How he despises that green frock coat.
2. They call him "the agitator." That was something he never wanted to be.
John Adams knows he gets on the nerves of many congressmen. He knows that whenever Dickinson rises to speak, he will be standing a moment later. He knows that he often stands alone in openly defending the patriot cause in Congress. He knows that he will shout and shout while Benjamin Franklin sits by quietly and observes, and while Thomas Jefferson daydreams, and while the rest of the Congress moans.
John agitates them, and he knows it. Yet he also knows that the ultimate price of silence will be a greater burden to bear then unpopularity.
3. His cousin Samuel is never there.
John never approved of all of his cousin's methods to achieve independency. The colonies needed it more than anything, of course; however, when John heard of the Boston Tea Party and Sam's support of the tarring-and-featherings, he looked upon the actions with disgust. He told Samuel that his methods were often indecent and destructive.
"Every other man and woman across the colonies seems to approve of them," Samuel replied, with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders. Samuel was elected alongside John to the Massachusetts delegation in the Continental Congress. Yet John notices that as he fights, his cousin is absent. While his voice is heard for two miles down the street, Samuel's firebrand input is silenced.
And yet, whenever John refers to himself as Adams of Massachusetts to a group of Philadelphia citizens, they always gasp in elation and mistake him for Sam. John doesn't know how he feels about that.
4. If John Adams wasn't a man of morals and willpower, he would've punched Edward Rutledge in the face a long time ago.
Dickinson makes John angry every single day. That is not a secret to anyone; even non members of Congress know it. John's secret is that he hates Rutledge more. Dickinson makes known where he stands on the issues; he stands against anything John proposes and anything involving independency. Rutledge's stance is consistently unclear. He claims to want independence, but only for South Carolina. He claims he will vote for independence "as soon as everyone else does." He does not clearly state yes or no. Rutledge sits in his seat most of the time. He does not utter a word unless he is whispering a snide comment to his southern brother, Joseph Hewes. His congressional activities include smirking pompously and occasionally flattening his rose-print vest.
The only time Rutledge ever took a stand on anything was when he vehemently spoke out against the anti-slavery clause in Tom's Declaration. That only made John hate him even more.
5. Whenever words fail him, John thinks of Abigail.
He wonders what she is doing at home. He checks the time and smiles as he realizes she is sitting down to dinner at the moment. He thinks about his farm. He wonders how his children are and if they are safe. He wonders if John Quincy finished that book he was reading and if Nabby is working on a new sewing activity.
The nights in humid Philadelphia are dreadful and lonely for him. All he can do is think of Abigail. As he tries to fall asleep each night, he wonders if she is as forlorn as he is. He thinks about the future seasons and wonders if she will be cold at night without him beside her. Often he cannot sleep and he rises to write her a letter. He sends each one off with a prayer that they will not be intercepted. He writes to her in Congress as well, during breaks. It is harder for him to concentrate there, yet he cannot seem to stop writing her.
"My wife is doing superb, James!" he overhears Dickinson often boast with a grin. "She still has her luxury, the slaves, and the mansion. It's like I never left her!" Then he goes on to discuss all of the nice things he ever bought for his wife. John thinks about the farm and all of the work that Abigail must do compared to Mary Dickinson. It is those thoughts that make John hate the days more than the nights.
6. Sometimes, John swears that Richard Henry Lee is an angel in disguise.
When Lee offered to obtain a Virginia resolution on independency, John was at first against it. In his mind, Lee was a spunky individual, but too lighthearted for the serious task at hand. John did not have any faith that Lee would return with a resolution. However, when he did, John realized that Lee had helped him a great deal. He had come to John's aid when he needed the most help, like angels often do. John likes Lee now. Lee is constantly optimistic and energetic. He engages in many conversations and provides many entertaining stories. Lee's comedy often helps John make it through his days at Congress.
John remembers one day at Independence Hall, when he was sitting in his seat and staring at absolutely nothing. He was lost in melancholy thought. Abigail had written him saying that life on the farm was getting harder and that the children all had the measles. He was worried about Abby and the children, so much that he couldn't take his mind off of them.
"Why the long face, Johnny?!" Lee sprinted over to John's desk, his mouth formed in his usual cheery grin. When he saw John's dismayed expression, he immediately looked baffled. John normally never talked about such serious things with Lee, but he was tired of keeping his worries to himself. He told Lee what Abigail had written, and Lee listened intently and nodded his head. "That is awful, Johnny," Lee said. "I know you wish you were home with them, but look on the bright side." Instead of saying what the bright side was, Lee stopped speaking. His mouth hung open for a few seconds. Suddenly, a huge fly landed on John's desk. Lee quickly picked up a nearby book and dropped it on top of the fly. John looked at Lee in surprise. Lee pointed to the book, his eyes sparkling and his mouth grinning. "You could be that fly!"
John laughed so hard that the other congressmen eyed him oddly. He didn't know why he laughed at that. Maybe it was the expression on Lee's face, or the tone of voice in which he said it. Or maybe John was just desperate to feel something other than anxiety. Either way, he got over his worries. Lee had helped him once again.
7. John Adams didn't always hate John Dickinson.
Upon the first sight of Dickinson, John did not think that he could handle the pressure of Congress. Dickinson was pale and thin, and did not seem the firebrand type whatsoever. However, after getting to know him better, John changed his mind. Dickinson was a smart, debonair individual. They had interesting conversations and shared some laughs. Soon John could call him a friend with confidence. Then, John Dickinson drafted the Olive Branch Petition, and the friendship was over. Tension between them increased when a letter of John's, containing insulting words about Dickinson, was discovered by the British and published in their newspapers. That was when the shouting and the walking stick fights began.
There are times during Congress when John looks at his nemesis and wishes things were different. He recalls all of the good talk that he and Dickinson shared. He remembers Dickinson's pamphlet which criticized the early actions of the British, titled Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania. John wonders what would've happened if Dickinson only went the extra step and backed independence. He wonders if they would still be friends.
Then Dickinson stands up and praises the king, and the fight begins all over again.
8. John learned how to listen from two people.
Tom usually sits in silence during Congress. He never rises to speak against an issue. The loudest John ever hears Tom is when he plays his violin, and even then he is not speaking. A little while after they met, John encouraged Tom to start speaking up.
"You are very bright," John would complement the young Virginian. "I don't see why you are determined to reveal your talents merely through your pen." Tom would never respond. One day, while Tom was still working on the Declaration, Benjamin Franklin and John went to dinner.
"John," Ben said, looking at him with knowing eyes. "I've noticed that you've been telling Tom to speak up in Congress lately." John was about to talk, but Ben held up a hand to stop him. He looked to the side, then back at John. "That man sitting with his friend over there? He was fired today. The lady serving drinks? She ran away from home because her parents didn't approve of the man she loved. And that man in the corner, sitting all alone? He's come here every day for the past two months, but orders nothing. He lost his home."
"Franklin, what in God's name are you talking about?" John asked, knowing Ben was using one of his riddles. Ben tapped his fingers slowly on the table, then stopped.
"I'm saying, my friend, that you do not always need to talk to grasp a situation. Observing and listening will get you very far."
John remembered how Ben usually sat quietly in Congress, not saying anything. John never ordered Tom to speak up after that.
9. There isn't a day that goes by when John does not go up to the bell tower alone and wishes he was someone else.
First he thinks of the issue at hand. Even though John knows he must continue speaking out for independency, being the agitator truly bothers him. He often wishes he were as wise and respected as Ben, who always gets his point across without "agitating" anyone. He wishes he could keep his mouth shut, the way Tom does. He wishes he had the optimistic naivety of Lee. Then he thinks of Abby back home and wishes that he could give her everything that Dickinson gives his wife. He thinks about how he was alienated in Congress for not supporting Dickinson's Olive Branch Petition when it was first drafted. He wishes he was as suave and well-liked as Dickinson.
John wishes these things slightly out of jealousy, but mostly out of self-criticism. For secretly he wonders if he is the reason why many of the delegates hate the idea of independency so much. He is too outspoken, too obnoxious, too disliked to be correct. He will, as Dickinson likes to say, lead them all "down the firey path of total destruction." On top of that, he feels guilty for Abigail having to raise the children without him. She is all alone, and it is his fault.
For as harsh as John is on the delegates he works with, he is harshest on himself.
10. John Adams knows his struggles will not end, because he cannot face his one fear: failure.
Deep in his heart, John knows that even if independency is declared, the war must still be won. There will be negotiations needed to be made and more business to take care of. What's more, John knows that he will continue to be a part of it all. It is his choice, of course. He could choose to go home, back to his adoring family and people of Boston. He could live that life of pure safety that Dickinson, Rutledge, and all their cronies cherish more than anything.
But, if he did that, he'd fail his country.
He'd fail all of those praying for him to emerge triumphant.
He'd fail those in his country and around the world who cry for freedom.
John can't do that. The cause is too important. The lives of other patriots and his children's futures depend on him. If independency is declared, the king and the redcoats will want his blood. John knows this, and he does not care. If the British get him, at least he will not have failed; he will have died trying to make America free.
So John Adams walks into the Philadelphia State House, back into the humid, fly-infested room, to fight another harsh battle.
That's the end of part one; next up is John Dickinson!