One of my July 4 traditions is to watch Tumer Classic Movie's showing of 1776; for some reason this year, they saw fit to move it from the late night to the afternoon. Kind of throws off my schedule, but that's a minor complaint.
One of the reasons I like the movie is that it highlights the role of John Adams, a man who gave constantly for his then-nonexistent nation and was -- at least in my mind -- the true father of this country.
Also unknown is Adams' role in the Boston Massacre, when the man who would become one of the loudest voices for independence defended the soldiers who opened fire in one of the incidents that lead to the Declaration. He won an acquittal for most of the soliders, and said:
The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.
John Adams was many things -- but the thing he primarily was, and perhaps was before anyone else, was American.