John Patrick Diggins, author of John Adams: The American Presidents Series, Steven Waldman, author of Founding Faith, and Kirk Ellis, writer and co-executive producer of the HBO miniseries "John Adams," are discussing the show on TNR.com. This is the sixth entry in their conversation. (Follow their complete dialogue here: Entries 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)
Dear Jack and Kirk,
Thanks for joining us, Kirk. Congratulations again--it's a great show.
Before commenting on Part 4, I wanted to respond to two points in your post:
First, for what its worth, I argue in my new book, Founding Faith, that most of the Founders were not Deists, as you suggested. They believed in a God that intervened actively in history and their lives.
Second, in responding to Jack’s and my concern that the patriot rationale for rebellion wasn't compelling, you note that you aired the argument that the British raised taxes in order to pay for the French and Indian War. But that would seem to prove our point. That dialogue only made the Brits seem reasonable and the patriots seem selfish and whiny. As the show flows, the serious British malfeasance came after much colonial mischief.
Now, about the fourth episode. It has two extraordinary scenes. One is the (first-ever?) scene of Founding Father sex. Since HBO brought us erotic polygamy and red-hot funeral-home love, I would have been disappointed if they hadn't found revolutionary fervor in the Founding Bedrooms. But I must ask Kirk Ellis: How did you research the scene when John and Abigail are re-united after years apart and have a few moments alone?
I had goose bumps watching the scene of George Washington's inauguration. David
Morse's portrayal of George Washington is probably the best pop cultural
depiction of the first president. He captures
scene at the First Inaugural--when John Adams is awkwardly holding court while
waiting for the festivities to begin--was metaphorically perfect: A room full
of confused patriots fumbling through this unprecedented moment until
John Patrick Diggins is a professor of history at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and the author of John Adams: The American Presidents Series. Kirk Ellis is the writer and co-executive producer of HBO's John Adams. Steven Waldman is the editor-in-chief of Beliefnet.com and author of the newly released Founding Faith.
By John Patrick Diggins, Kirk Ellis, and Steven Waldman