Talk:1776 (musical)

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Historical accuracy[edit]

As long as we're on the subject of historical accuracy, the correct credits for the Authors is Music by Sherman Edwards Lyrics by Sherman Edwards Book by Peter Stone based on a conception of Sherman Edwards. Don't take my word for it - look at Cast list in the March 1969 Clive Barnes review in the New York Times: 1776 Official Website comment added by Edwarke.

I love the play/film, but there's no question that it's fictionalized. As some examples, compare the character of James Wilson with James Wilson, or Thomas McKean with Thomas McKean, or Stephen Hopkins with Stephen Hopkins, or Joseph Hewes with Joseph Hewes. It's still a great musical. Newyorkbrad 14:43, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Tried to fix the said link to this interesting historic musical, but found another that I did link currently todayKidsheaven 00:51, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

i think someone should mention the anacronsim contained in the song 'cool, considerate men'. the conservative singers dance 'ever to the right' to describe their political nature. the left vs. right description did not come into use until the meeting of the french national assembly, just before the french revolution. in the assembly the conservatives who wished to retain the monarchy sat to the right whil the liberals in favor of democracy, including robespierre, sat to the left. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:27, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

I once had a copy of a published script of 1776, complete with the full book and lyrics of the stage musical. It also had a terrific appendix with a long list of clarifications on how the play omitted, added, or adjusted specific elements of historical detail. It shows that quite a bit of genuine historical fact is embedded within the play, and explains the dramatic license for making certain changes. For example, part of a real historical quote is omitted because it was sounded too good to be true: in one of John Adams' lines predicting future trouble by compromising on the issue of slavery, his complete statement came very close to predicting the actual date of the future Civil War -- so they left that part out.Blue Rattle 02:12, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Being very close to the co-author S. Edwards I was witness to most of the evolution of 1776. Much of the research took place in a modest library in Morristown NJ, where the Continental Army once camped through an especially brutal winter, and G. Washington had a New Jersey headquarters. The head librarian and Edwards had a great relationship and she managed to procure many precious documents and book from her library and others for Edwards'research. Edwards was very concerned with making the show historically accurate; yet as the show came closer to production the book had to be pared down, historical details sometimes had to be merged into generalities. License was taken for example with the number of representatives in Congress which was many more than represented in the show. According to Mary Stone, the late Peter Stone's widow, when Stone took over writing the book he received numerous boxes full of research material from Edwards. Stone combed through the material and was also concerned about historical accuracy, according to a general consensus of those involved in the original production; according to Mary Stone he (Peter Stone) produced many drafts of the book as he commonly did with the Librettos he wrote. She estimated twelve drafts were written for 1776, partly because Stone inherited a winding and "desperately long book from Edwards because of his attempt at historical accuracy" according director Peter Hunt (See Hunt's 2008 interview at [Link to official 1776 site.])who won a Tony award for 1776. Subsequently Stone's book generally kept historical accuracy, but more importantly became a masterpiece of theatrical craftsmanship by which other Librettos are judged to this day.

According to Mary Stone one way to view the method Peter Stone used to write was first to understand the "level" the show was on. For 1776 Stone discovered the "level" through listening to composer Sherman Edwards demonstrate the opening song "Sit John John" (see Stone's recollection of this in his 1997 interview with Susan Haskins & Peter Riedel on Theater Talk [Theater Talk archive tape number #403 which can be purchased at the site, or it is immediately viewable at the 1776 "official" website [Link to official 1776 site.] C/O Theater Talk. This "level" is immediately established in 1776 with Adams breaking the "fourth wall" and addressing the audience directly with a lawyer joke, followed by the musical number "Sit Down John". Stone's perfect craftsmanship allowed the show to maintain that level, yet also make forays into more serious and emotional scenes such as Mama Look Sharp, a song about a dying soldier and his mother searching for him after a battle. Mama Look Sharp had been cut from the show in New Haven, but Stone wrote in a new scene where the courier brings a communique to an empty Congressional quarters specifically to set a serious and emotional tone for the song, and to keep it in the show. The scene and the song became an important part of the 1776, and was what Stone described as a "proletarian moment" when the show focused on the men and women who were the ones to actually make sacrifices in order to carry out the decisions (and indecision) of the Continental Congress - you can listen to the song at [Link to official 1776 site.]. Sept. 9, 2008. [edwarke] .

I've condensed the "historical accuracy" section a bit, converting it into prose and eliminating a bit of trivia. There are too many historical inaccuracies in the musical to list them all without becoming pointlessly nitpicky (e.g., did you know that John Hancock would not have been sitting in the president's chair during the debate?). We should just stick to the central deviations from history. —Kevin Myers 04:33, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

1998 NBA All-Star Game[edit]

Before the 1998 NBA All-Star Game, the cast from 1776 sang the national anthem in Madision Square Garden (where the All-Star game was being held). Thought this might be a useful factoid.

DaDoc540 01:25, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Plot Section[edit]

I'm not really well-versed in the ways of Wikipedia, but I really don't think that the article should have such a large, detailed overview of the plot. Wouldn't a short summary, maybe a few paragraphs long, suffice? 03:19, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

I'm torn, frankly. I wrote the plot sections as one of my first major contributions to WP, and, looking at it over the past day or two, I was thinking it's a little long. On the other hand, from a historical standpoint, it's really the only place on Wikipedia that details the goings-on of the Second Continental Congress that ended with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, I believe that both articles link to this one (or, at least, they did) because of that fact. With that in mind -- that it's as much a plot summary as historical record -- I'm inclined to keep it as it is. —  MusicMaker5376 14:46, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the plot section is too long. Every scene of the musical is essentially fictional, so there's no need for a detailed plot for historical purposes. 1776 is wonderfully enjoyable, but the claim that it is historically accurate has been overstated in the article. —Kevin Myers 13:54, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
I've since removed the unsupported claims that the musical's "historical accuracy is remarkable". It may be accurate compared to the average musical comedy, but is probably no more accurate than the average Hollywood docudrama. In any event, such claims should be referenced to be included. —Kevin Myers 04:41, 3 June 2008 (UTC)


First, a well-met congratulations to Kevin for cleaning up the article!
However, I'm concerned about the claim that Adams was "well-liked" during this period. The oft-repeated phrase of him being "obnoxious and disliked" came from one of his famous letters to Abagail (in the original as "disliked and obnoxious"). He was defintely "prone to periods of melancholy", and that line probably stems from one of them, but it's such an iconic line in the show that we should mention its source. Also, I think it's important to say, at some point, that at least some of the dialogue is the speakers' own words, taken from their own writings. Jefferson's line "to put into words so plain...", Livingston's line about what goes on at the NY legislature (I think), and, of course, half of what Franklin says. (I love this exchange: Adams: I have better things to do than stand around and listen to you quote yourself! Franklin: Oh, that was a new one....) — MusicMaker5376 22:53, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the congrats! I will soon add footnotes for the various changes I've made when I get the necessary books in hand. The argument that Adams was not disliked while he was in the Continental Congress comes from David McCullough, who could find no disparaging references to Adams in any writings of the other delegates at the time. In an appendix to the new paperback edition of McCullough's book he discusses this more, specifically contrasting his interpretation with that of the musical. I've perhaps not worded his argument correctly in the article, and I'll adjust it when I have the references in front of me. I agree that mention should be made that some dialogue comes from actual writings; I'll put that in as I revise, if someone doesn't beat me to it. Cheers! —Kevin Myers 00:45, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Article Format[edit]

I'd like to add some more information to this article and possibly format it so it is closer to the standard musical theatre format. Is this ok with everyone? MarianKroy (talk) 15:55, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Fine by me—I certainly don't know what the standard format is. Go for it! —Kevin Myers 16:14, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Please do! BTW, Kevin, for the musicals article structure guidelines, see: Wikipedia:WikiProject Musical Theatre/Article Structure. -- Ssilvers (talk) 04:07, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

I just got home (today's been crazy) and I must sleep! I'll begin work tomorrow! MarianKroy (talk) 02:57, 18 July 2008 (UTC)


I put in a small paragraph about how the real life Rutledge was. right by Adams :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:49, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

this is not innaccerate his brother John was pro-slavery in John and Edward Rutledge Of South Carolina, Edward tryed to ban the slave traide when he was older but failed. (talk) 13:11, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

You wrote in the article that Edward Rutledge "opposed slavery", citing James Haw's book John and Edward Rutledge Of South Carolina. Can you tell us the sentences from Haw's book that says that Rutledge opposed slavery? Keep in mind, opposing the slave trade is not the same thing as opposing slavery. Rutledge once supported a ban on the slave trade for economic reasons--he wanted people to quit buying slaves so that they would pay their debts--but to the best of my knowledge, he was never an opponent of slavery. Quite the opposite, I believe. —Kevin Myers 15:19, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Anonymous user 72.90... First of all, what pages from the Haw book discuss Rudledge's views on slavery? As Kevin Myers notes, a quote from the book would be very helpful. secondly, the article that you cited says he was benevolent and did many kindnesses, but I don't see the reference to his being "tender and mild". It is not impossible for him to have been both snobby and benevolent. But the article does not say that he is snobby, so it doesn't really seem necessary to argue against the proposition. Best regards, -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:20, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Sure :) found it :) page 196, but it says it was only a 3 year ban is that ok? "Included in the bill was the three-year ban on slave importation that Edward Rutledge had long desired. Rutledge called it "the only good clause in the bill ". For the kindness I found so far "Mr.Rutledge is all goodness" from a book called Caty. I think I heard in a book "The Signers" that it was the way he and the other southren delegates were supposed to act, some people thought it was snobby so I'm not sure about that. I know in the movie every has mixed up personalities ;) 23:53, 29 April 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

As Haw explains, Rutledge supported that three-year ban on the slave trade for economic reasons. (He was not alone: at the time, many slave owners who owned a lot of slaves favored restrictions on importing more.) Rutledge was not an opponent of slavery. —Kevin Myers 02:06, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
he also said in

The Continental Congress‎ - Page 226 by Edmund Cody Burnett "I shall be happy to get rid of the idea of slavery."

I couldn't get the whole quote :( —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:41, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Cast Error[edit]

I'm pretty sure that Blythe Danner wasn't in the Broadway cast, though she did do the movie.WHPratt (talk) 19:10, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Betty Buckley is now shown in the original cast list (well referenced, eg IBDB).JeanColumbia (talk) 19:34, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 22:02, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Dead link 2[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

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Word choice[edit]

I haven't seen either the musical or the film, but I am amused by this statement under "Scene Three": "Richard Henry Lee canters into the chamber. . ." Canter, as in the "three-beat gait performed by a horse"? B^) Thanks, Wordreader (talk) 22:39, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

"Even God only took 6 days to create everything", "You'll have to tell us how you did it".[edit]

Jefferson has spent the week moping and being unsuccessful in his many drafts. This prompts a sharp rebuke by Adams, "Even God only took 6 days to create everything" which Jefferson sarcastically replies, "You'll have to tell us how you did it". - Sally Hemmings (talk) 16:39, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Actually, this is the exchange:

Adams: Do you mean to say that it is not yet finished?
Jefferson: No, sir. I mean to say that it is not yet begun.
Adams: Good God! A whole week! The entire earth was created in a week!
Jefferson: Someday, you must tell me how you did it.
WHPratt (talk) 19:07, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Can't remove phrase that looks like vandalism[edit]

I tried to edit out "and in love with his woes" at the end of the first paragraph in History. The editing screen shows it gone, but it remains in the article. Cognita (talk) 17:56, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

Never mind. The deletion took effect after a few minutes, that's all. I hadn't seen such a delay before.

Cognita (talk) 18:01, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

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