Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth!

Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on the Declaration of Independence
J.L.G. Ferris

To all my friends here in the U.S., have a GREAT holiday.

Ben Franklin (see above) is one of my very favorite Dead White Males. By happy accident, I even live on a Franklin Street. Jefferson is pretty high up on my list, too.

John Adams... I'm not so sure. I don't know much about him at all, so I was really looking forward to the recent HBO miniseries, and TIVO'd the whole lot.

It was a beautiful, well-made disappointment.

At least as he was portrayed in the series, he came off as pretty unappealing - something of a vain and petty manipulator (Paul Giamatti's a great actor, I just didn't like the character). It didn't do such a hot job either of showing what Adams' accomplishments were (I assume they were plentiful), so I ended up not really knowing why I should care about him.

In all fairness, I only got through 5 of the 7 episodes. For the sake of completeness, I probably will watch the remaining 2; hopefully there's some grand personality transformation in the end. One of these days I should also get down to Quincy to visit his museum.

In any case, I've always liked Gilbert Stuart's brilliant portrait of Adams as an old man:

Oh... and I think it's one of the all-time amazing coincidences that Adams and Jefferson - founding fathers and 2nd & 3rd presidents respectively - both died on July 4th, 1826, 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence.


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