He is one of America's least understood and most underestimated Founding Fathers, the second President of the United States, John Adams. From HBO Films comes this sprawling seven-part miniseries event that depicts the extraordinary life of one of the primary shapers of our independence and government.
Boston, 1770. In the aftermath of the Boston Massacre-a deadly street confrontation between American colonists and an occupying British brigade-John 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 case-but surprises the British by turning down a lucrative position with the Crown.
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.
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 voyage--and a skirmish with a British warship-in making their way to France. There, the difference in styles between Adams and the relaxed, epicurean Franklin become apparent.
1781. Convalescing in Holland, Adams joyously learns the British surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. The Dutch 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.
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 1796--by a mere three votes over Jefferson.
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.
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.