1776: The Movie

Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin

The Pennsylvania State House
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Franklin
John Dickinson
James Wilson
Abigail Adams
Silent Men of Congress
Historical Accuracy in 1776
1776 Tidbits
1776 Laserdisc

Treason is a charge invented by the winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.

Franklin's Olive Branch?

Benjamin Franklin… What can I say about Franklin? Well, perhaps I can begin with the picture I decided to put up on this page. Franklin often plays the part of Adams’ straight man - that is, while Adams is pacing around pissed off that congress can’t finally declare the colonies independent, Franklin is quietly moving around behind Adams to get something done about it (namely getting Lee to ride down into Virginia and get a proposal on independence.) Another example is when Adams gets off his classic line about Franklin, Washington and the horse conducting the Revolution all by themselves. Franklin says he likes it, dispelling Adams’ anger and actually getting Adams to laugh.
Franklin also serves much the same purpose for the rest of the movie. When things get too serious and heavy, Franklin enters a line to lighten things up a bit. For example, when the verbal jousting between Adams and Dickinson becomes too heated, Franklin asks Dickinson to stop banging, "how’s a man to sleep?" Franklin does make some penetrating points about Americans being a new nationality, separate and above all distinctive from the English. Then Adams manages to pick it up and continue the heated exchange. Franklin is also quite funny falling asleep in various places, and hinting at what he planned on doing with a certain lady he was meeting. "I’d ask you along but talking makes her nervous."
I think that in this movie Franklin’s distinctive characteristic is that he doesn’t take anything too seriously, especially not himself, unless it is deservingly important. Franklin does know when to take a stand on something. He doesn’t actively participate in congress until it’s time to get the postponement for the writing of a declaration. He tries to convince Jefferson he can get Adams to write the declaration (albeit unsuccessfully). Ultimately, though it was at Adams’ behest, Franklin finally stands up to Dickinson and gains control of the Pennsylvania delegation by winning over Wilson at the critical moment.
Phew. Not bad for half an hour… I’ll get more up here eventually…