film analysis paper for part one join or die in hbo john adams series 1

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Film Analysis Paper for “Part One: Join or Die” in HBO John Adams Series

The John Adams series is on Course Reserve at the Library. It is available for three hours of viewing inside the library. Based on the historical record, John Adams is a work of dramatized historical biography. Think about the Questions below, and take notes as you watch the episode in its entirety.

Write a response to the Questions. Support your answers with specific details and key quotations from the film. Watch the film, and do not use Wikipedia for your answers. You can add as many as 2 points towards exam totals for this assignment. The assignment is due to me as an e-mail attachment by Thursday, November 8th.


1) In your own words, describe the Boston Massacre. Why did the soldiers fire? Who was provoking them?

2) What was the principle and argument of John Adams’ defense of the soldiers? Why did the jurors, being colonists themselves, vote not guilty?

3) Describe Abigail Adams counsel and comments of her husband’s speeches for the trial. Does he perhaps value her opinions and respond to her advice?

4) What were the colonists’ reactions to the ‘not guilty’ vote? Who was the man shouting loudest – John’s cousin that he hastened from the scene of the massacre?

5) Describe their actions to “tar and feather” and “burn in effigy”? Why did they attack the customs officer attempting to get the tax for unloading the tea from the ship?

6) How did the British respond to the “Boston Tea Party”?

7) Look at the scene where the British proclamations were read to the colonists. There is a specific “act or law” being enforced when the Redcoats were throwing the people out of their house. What is that act called? Referred to your book or the lists of “acts” that I put up on Canvas.

8) What did it mean to me offered the position to become “the King’s man”? Look at the dinner scene. Listen to the discussion, and write what you understand this position is and what it means in the colonies.

9) John gives a speech in the church. What actions and reasons did he give to move into “political action” and go the First Continental Congress?

10) In the last scene, where are the colonists going? What are they going to do there?

“Join or Die” Part ONE of John Adams, directed by Tom Hooper, written by Kirk Ellis (2008)

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