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1776 Events

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About the Show:

1776 is a musical that presents the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The creative team, including composer Sherman Edwards and librettist by Peter Stone, used historical sources and educated guesses to compose the tale (which was never fully documented because the Continental Congress operated in private), but fictionalized certain parts of the story for dramatic effect. The show not only displays the drama of the proceedings leading up to the document's signing, but also looks into the personal lives of the delegates, showing the little-acknowledged human side of the political story.

1776 debuted on Broadway on March 16, 1969 and played 1,217 performances, through February 13, 1972. A US tour, 1972 film version, and London production followed, and the show was revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company in 1997, directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes, Little Shop of Horrors). 1776 is still praised for its ability to adapt an unlikely subject to a stage musical, and songs like "Sit Down, John," "Yours, Yours, Yours," "Molasses to Rum," and "The Egg" endure as particularly memorable. Get some 1776 tickets to experience this compelling twist on a page from the history books.

Plot Synopsis:

In May of 1776, John Adams tries to get the Second Continental Congress to agree to declare independence from Great Britain, but his colleagues are dismissive. As he complains of the committee's inaction, he writes to his wife, Abigail, who is having trouble herself organizing for the women in Massachusetts to prepare for the war. They promise to love and support each other. On the advice of Benjamin Franklin, Adams enlists proud Southerner Richard Henry Lee of Virginia to propose the idea, convinced that he is more likeable and will have more clout.

On June 7, 1776, the Continental Congress is in disarray as delegates bicker over the prospect of independence, what some call treason. Congress President John Hancock calls the 380th meeting of the group to order and, after a close vote, the issue is accepted into debate. But when the issue is continually deadlocked with tie votes and calls for unanimity for the decision, Adams moves to postpone the vote for independence until a declaration stating the reasons may be generated. The Committee of Five (Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman) is formed to form the declaration, and Jefferson is finally convinces to write the document.

After a week, Adams and Franklin find Jefferson moping, but he is cheered up when his wife, Martha, enters (having been sent for by Adams). While Jefferson and his wife catch up, Adams writes his wife, and they pledge their love for each other despite the distance between them.

On June 22, 1776, Adams tries to win over some of the states, but many question whether their army, suffering from venereal diseases and drunkenness, can really hope to defeat the British. Some delegates promise to pledge their support if the military shapes up, but once left alone, several conservatives against independence profess their desire to retain their wealth and position in the current system. Once all have left the chamber but the custodian, the courier, and a workman, they discuss the reality and horror of battle and losing friends and family.

On June 28, 1776, the Declaration comes under scrutiny and suggestions for changes are entertained. Several Southern delegates walk out when Adams and Jefferson refuse to remove the abolition of slavery, and many other delegates are disheartened. After wavering a bit, Adams conjures Abigail in his mind for inspiration, and when kegs of saltpeter (made by the women of Massachusetts) arrive, his faith is renewed. The declaration comes to another vote on July 2, and Jefferson reluctantly scratches out the slavery clause to get the Southern votes. After a difficult decision among the Pennsylvania delegates, the motion is passed.

On the evening of July 4, 1776, the Liberty Bell rings in the background as Hancock leads the signing of the document just as word reaches them of military difficulties, but the delegates only strengthen their resolve in the face of the adversity. Order your 1776 tickets now to see this important historical drama play out before your very eyes.


  • 1969 Tony Awards: 5 nominations, 3 wins
  • 1969 Drama Desk Awards: 2 nominations, 2 wins
  • 1998 Tony Awards: 3 nominations
  • 1998 Drama Desk Awards: 4 nominations, 2 wins

Creative Team:

Music & LyricsSherman Edwards
BookPeter Stone

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