Films and Videos

“Johns Adams Unbound” Online Site Support Notebook

The major documentary TV programs related to John Adams and his family include:

  1. John Adams,
    HBO miniseries (2008), available from a number of distributors.

    The seven-part series “John Adams” chronicles the extraordinary life journey of one of the primary shapers of our independence and government, whose legacy has often been eclipsed by more flamboyant contemporaries like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. Set against the backdrop of a nation’s stormy birth, this sweeping miniseries celebrates the shared values of liberty and freedom upon which this country was built. Starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail Adams, directed by Tom Hooper and adapted by Kirk Ellis and Michelle Ashford from David McCullough’s book, John Adams is the incredible saga of a man who dreamed a nation and watched it come true.

  2. The Adams Chronicles,
    PBS series (1976), available from a number of distributors.

    The Adams Chronicles is a multi-Emmy award-winning, thirteen-episode special by PBS that aired in the mid-1970s to commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial. The first six episodes are about John Adams; the remainder are about his son, John Quincy Adams and other descendants. Adams is portrayed by actor George Grizzard. This series was released on DVD by Acorn Media on May 13, 2008. It is no longer on the PBS website, but is still available from PBS at
    external link

  3. John & Abigail Adams,
    PBS American Experience (2006), available from PBS and others.

    American Experience’s
    John & Abigail Adams chronicles both an inspiring political marriage and the birth of a nation. “The Adams story provides a strikingly intimate look inside a marriage of true companions,” says writer-producer Elizabeth Deane “for whom life included not just the great events memorialized in textbooks, but also laughter, loneliness, and family tragedy. “Under the direction of Peter Jones, two formidable actors—Simon Russell Beale (John Adams), recipient of the 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Best Actor Award for his performance in “Uncle Vanya,” and Linda Emond (Abigail Adams), an accomplished stage actress who previously portrayed Abigail in the Broadway rendition of “1776”—bring the couple to life. Historians, including David McCullough, author of the bestselling
    John Adams and the recent
    1776, Joanne Freeman, and Joseph Ellis, provide insight on the couple and their legacy. Information about the program, additional reading and a teacher’s guide are available at:
    external link

  4. John Adams Collection, History Channel (various dates), available from various distributors.

    In this comprehensive collection, HISTORY® presents three DVD releases that paint an elegant portrait of John Adams’s role in establishing America s independence as well as an engagingly intimate glimpse behind our second president.
    Founding Fathers offers a fascinating look at the heroes who created our country, and highlights Adams’s debate on the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
    Founding Brothers examines the struggle of Adams, Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr to transform disparate visions into an enduring government.
    Biography: John and Abigail Adams takes an intimate look at how this powerful couple kept a newly independent nation together while sharing a unique bond in tumultuous times.

  5. 1776
    , Feature film (1972).

    The film version of the Broadway musical comedy of the same name. In the days leading up to July 4, 1776, Continental Congressmen John Adams and Benjamin Franklin coerce Thomas Jefferson into writing the Declaration of Independence as a delaying tactic as they try to persuade the American colonies to support a resolution on independence. As George Washington sends depressing messages describing one military disaster after another, the businessmen, landowners and slave holders in Congress all stand in the way of the Declaration, and a single “nay” vote will forever end the question of independence. Large portions of spoken and sung dialog are taken directly from the letters and memoirs of the actual participants. Available from a number of distributors.