A Party in Philadelphia!
Posted on: 8th February 2015 18:05:02

Tell everyone in Philadelphia there's a party going on!

~~ The Wonders  

 (That Thing You Do 1996)



This Month it’s a Political Party to form a more perfect union   in 1776


Welcome to the February 2015 Edition ~ 1776


This film may not have the celebratory party aspects of the remaining films, but it is in my opinion, one of the most entertaining historical films ever made. 


Where else can you find the fathers of our country singing about forming the perfect union in a congressional incubator (The Egg ), discussing the merits of writing the declaration  (But Mr. Adams) and deciding who should propose Independence ( The Lees of Old Virginia)? Here in this musical adaptation of a pivotal time in our history.



1776 opens the door to some great historical figures (by now old friends), John Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and allows us many an opportunity to ask:  how can I make this film engaging and relevant to my students, residents, clients and family members?


Consider the character of each man:


John Adams, who simply because he demonstrates a fervent, often zealous love of country finds he is obnoxious and disliked. Disliked to the point of not being able to get anything done:  I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm and three or more are called a Congress  (sound familiar? Are we sure we’re talking about congress in 1776)?  Disliked or not he will make his voice heard: I say vote yes, vote yes, vote for Independency!   

Spend some time talking with your students about what it’s like to be the odd man out in a large group and the price to be paid for standing up for what you believe. 


In the political climate of 2015 these views are relevant. What must politicians do to accomplish their goals?


Simply by his demeanor, John Adams  is engaging:  I’m obnoxious and disliked did you know that?


Thomas Jefferson: A man guided by his passion.  In this film he appears to be guided more by his passion for his wife than for his love of country.  He tells Adams, I’m going home… I haven’t seen my wife these six months.  (When his wife arrives he quickly dispenses with writing to indulge in more pleasurable pursuits). However, as our story progresses, the document completed, we witness a man whose passion for country is equal to that of Adams, particularly when the topic of slavery is discussed:  The rights of human nature are deeply wounded by this infamous practice!


Relevance can be seen here as you and your students compare the human rights in 1776 to human rights in 2015.


Ben Franklin: A man with a vision for the future, an eye for posterity yet keenly aware that a free future cannot be granted without compromise:  You talk as if independence were the rule. It’s never been tried before, no colony has ever broken from the parent stem in the history of the world…Consider what you’re doing…we are men, no more no less trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would allow…Independence first…America -- if we don’t secure that what difference will the rest make?   Ben Franklin suggested compromise for the greater good. Compromise may be a vehicle for you to link 1776 politics with the politics of today. Why is it so difficult to compromise?


Engaging questions, lively characters come together to answer the question of how multi-media can be used with students/young adults in the classroom.


This film is not just history come to life, it is a vehicle by which to engage the older generation in reminiscence, particularly as it relates to raising a family in times of great struggle and separation.


Abigail Adams is a greater character study for this discussion.

History tells us that John and Abigail spent years apart during the fight for independence. It was she who looked after the farm and cared for the sick children (little Abby has the measles) and did without essentials (we cannot find a pin).

It is this aspect of the story that the older generation clientele can relate to: The struggle. The struggle of growing up in the depression, of watching family members enter military service and being left to raise the family without spousal support.

Spend time with this topic and stories of great strength will come forth, strength that may even be seen today given the political climate.

The older generation clientele can also relate to the women’s point of view. Many problems have simple answers: ….you make things so complicated.  Just tell the Congress to declare independency! Then, sign your name, get out of there and hurry home to me! 

The simplest answer is often the best.

If more women ran the country… that statement is certainly relevant in 2015 and could keep a group going long after the credits of this film end!




Coming in March: The Party travels to Scotland when Charles Dalrymple goes home with bonnie Jean in Brigadoon!



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