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I'm the author of The Liberty Pole. I dabble a bit in blogging and have a fascination with early American history (late 18th century) as well as WWII. 

Friday, March 29, 2013


Image via IMDB.com
I have a confession to make that is likely to either make my history-minded friends cringe or laugh. I feel I should make this confession in order to begin this post and to explain where I am coming from on this.

I adore the 1776 musical.

There. I said it. I know it's campy. I know it is, in many ways, historically inaccurate, and it often shows only charactertures of the Founders. There are many flaws to it, I know, but there is something to it that pulls at me and I will always love it.

The latter part of my time in undergrad I was very active in local grassroots movements in politics. I gave everything I had to it, fought the fight (as it were), and struggled to do what I could to make a difference. Here's the second confession of the blogpost: In all of that, there are many times when I feel like, no matter what I gave, it did little good in the grand scheme of things. This is not to say we did not make some changes, but they were local and, in the end, I felt very discouraged when I looked at the big picture.

(This does tie together with the 1776 musical, I promise. )

When you give your all into something, whether it's a political movement, a creative venture such as writing or art, or your career and you feel as if you are either at a standstill or losing ground, no matter the effort you put into it, it can be discouraging. If you lean more to the idealistic side as I do, it can be jarring. You feel as if all that time and effort is wasted and you might as well have simply kept your mouth shut and sat on your hands for all the good it's done you.

I've been there, and it's a struggle not to go back to that place. I think it is because of that I am so encouraged by this campy musical. Oh, it's good enough fun for a few laughs to see John Adams bicker with... well, everyone, and to watch the rest of the founders dance and sing about the heat and the flies, but I've always found something much deeper to it.

There are a couple scenes towards the end in which John is voicing his discouragement to Abigail, feeling as if everything he has fought for, everything he has ever believed in has gone to waste. She says, in so many words, not to forget that he is committed to freedom and to liberty. The scene that follows is one in which he is reading over a letter from Washington that asks "Is anybody there? Does anybody care?" In those words you can hear that low that we have all felt if we have put our all into a cause. It's a terrible feeling, but it's one that can make you stronger if you let it.

I find this scene encouraging, no matter what I feel my commitment slipping in, because even though he feels as if everyone is against him, he feels alone and unheard, there is a passion that reignites within him and he finds that commitment that he's been looking for.

I know this musical is cheesy, but I really feel like it captures, at least here, that terrible, sinking feeling that the Founders must have had at times. (Go back and read some of Washington's letters sometime... Poor man). No matter the odds, no matter the obstacles, commitment is the key. Don't give up and don't give in. We have to realize that even the greats in history were once questioning if their actions meant anything in the whole of the world. Without ideas there is no vision. Without vision there is no call to action. Without call to action, there is no change.