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1h - In retirement, Adams starts writing his memoirs, then endures a series of tragedies when his daughter Nabby dies of cancer and, a few years later, Abigail succumbs to typhoid fever. At the urging of Dr. Rush, Adams reports the sad news to Jefferson, with the two old friends and adversaries taking solace in a correspondence that mends old wounds and lasts the rest of their lives. On July 4, 1826, having lived to see his son John Quincy become President, 90-year-old John Adams dies on the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independenceand on the very same day as Jefferson. On his deathbed, Adams utters, "Thomas Jefferson survives."
1h 16min - Abandoned by Jefferson for retaining Washington's cabinet, President Adams holds firm on keeping the nation out of war, despite French aggression and pro-war sentiment among his advisors. Abigail urges him to sign the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts, seeing them as a way to preserve domestic security. Meanwhile, Adams faces a crisis at home when he disowns his alcoholic son Charles; when Charles later dies, Abigail pleads to Adams to make peace with their son's memory, but Adams refuses, and a disappointed Abigail returns to Braintree. The president is vindicated in the French crisis after the new Secretary of State, John Marshall, brokers a peace with Napoleon I, but Adams fails to win a second term as Jefferson claims the presidency in a run-off with Aaron Burr. Drained by politics and family tragedy, Adams exits the new capital, Washington City, having only recently moved in to the still-unfinished White House.
Unite or Die
1h 1min - Elected America's first Vice President, Adams is scolded by Abigail for his vanity, and is frustrated by his exclusion from President Washington's inner circle. He also sees his friendship with Jefferson, the new Secretary of State, strained by the ongoing British-French conflict. Though he's vilified for casting an unpopular swing vote in the Senate that ratifies a U.S./British treaty, Adams ends up being elected President in 1796by a mere three votes over Jefferson. As Adams tours his presidential residence with Abigail, they find it stripped bare by his predecessor's staff. Undaunted, Abigail tries to rally her husband out of a melancholy brought on by the burdens of the presidencyand the nation's uncertain future.
1h 3min - 1781. Convalescing in Holland, Adams joyously learns the British surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. The Dutch, unwilling to part with their money during the war, now generously open their pockets to Adams and America. Returning to France to secure commerce with other nations, Adams sends for Abigail, and the two reunite in his opulent mansion in Paris. Also arriving is Jefferson, who suffered a catastrophic loss with the deaths of his wife and daughter in the same year. Both Jefferson and Abigail fall under Paris' healing spell, attending opera and luxuriating in the city's intoxicating lifestyle. But a missive from America sends Adams to London as the nation's first Ambassador to Britain, while Jefferson replaces Franklin in Paris. In London, Adams has a memorable meeting with King George III, in which the King recognizes the friendship of the United States as an independent nation. With a new federal government about to be elected in America, Adams and Abigail finally return to Boston, where Adams is given a hero's welcome while reconnecting with his children. In Braintree, Adams deals with a few family concernsincluding son Charles' debauched behavior at Harvard, John Quincy's courtship of a young woman, and the overtures being made by his aide, Col. William Smith, towards Adams' daughter Nabby. Though he vows to remain providentially unemployed, Adams soon realizes that he and Abigail weren't meant to sit in the shade of life. The election of the first U.S. president and vice-president is at handand Adams will again be putting his private life on hold.
Don't Tread on Me
1h 6min - 1777. A new period of separation from Abigail looms when Adams is appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France along with Benjamin Franklin. Abigail insists that Adams take along their son, John Quincy. The two endure a rough ocean voyageand a skirmish with a British warshipin making their way to France. There, the difference in styles between Adams and the relaxed, epicurean Franklin become apparent. As Abigail, back home, fetes a French Admiral in her husband's stead, Adams endures a series of uncomfortable encounters in Paris, and his strident demands that France increase their naval commitment to America's war effort 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 success. After sending John Quincy to Russia to work as secretary to the American minister there, Adams falls victim to a long illness and fever, helpless to further advance the revolution he helped spawn.
1h 28min - Following a fruitless session of the Continental Congress, a sabbatical at Adams' Braintree farm is disrupted by news of the siege of 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 Philadelphiaand 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 Dickinson and South Carolina's Edward Rutledge. On July 2, 1776, a final vote confirms the Congress' near-unanimous decision (New York abstained) to form an independent nation. 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.
Join or Die
1h 8min - Boston, 1770. In the aftermath of the Boston Massacrea deadly street confrontation between American colonists and an occupying British brigadeJohn Adams takes an unpopular stand by agreeing to serve as defense attorney for the accused British soldiers. Counseled in his summation by his beloved wife Abigail, Adams wins the casebut surprises the British by turning down a lucrative position with the Crown. As pro-independent sentiment boils over in Massachusetts following the Coercive/Intolerable Acts, Adams is invited to join the newly created Continental Congress. After a rousing speech to his constituents, he says an emotional goodbye to his family before heading to Philadelphia--and an uncertain future. Widescreen.