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American Experience: John and Abigail Adams

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Relying heavily on the extraordinary correspondence between the second president and his wife, this joint biography sheds light not only on the characters of two remarkable people, but also on the tumultuous times through which they lived. John and Abigail Adams played a critical role in many of the pivotal events of their era: he was a vociferous participant at the Continental Congress; she was an important eye-witness reporter during the Siege of Boston; he was an important war-time emissary to France. This AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reminds us that the Founding Fathers - and Mothers - were not men and women of marble following a script that made independence and American national success a pre-ordained conclusion, but rather real, flawed, multi-dimensional people, who had no idea how things would turn out.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: January 24, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BMSU9K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,713 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By JOHN GODFREY on January 30, 2006
Format: DVD
I'm a John Adams fan & know him as the most competant of the founding fathers. Until recently he hasn't received his due. This is the story of John & Abigail Adams, their life together & more often as not, their life apart. He was pretty much disliked by his contemporaries. He was respected for his abilities & resented because he told the truth, no matter how painful. It bothered him all his life that he never got the adulation & celebrity of Washington, Jefferson & Franklin. However unlike many obnoxious people he knew his strengths & weaknesses. A fine orator he knew Washington was a better leader, Franklin a better diplomat & Thomas Jefferson, a better writer. It fell to Jefferson, with Adams & Franklin's help to author the Declaration of Independence.

During his lenghty absences, Abigail kept the home fires burning, first, during his trips to to Philadelphia as a member of the Continential Congress & later as a diplomat to France & Holland. She managed their modest property as well as he could have. She was a community leader during British occupation & through the terrible small pox & typhoid epidemics that were so common in those days. She was first & always his most trusted confidant & political advisor, if not in person then in the long correspondences they kept up. Her love was unconditional & someone he could always count on. She made one trip overseas when he was Ambassador to England, which opened her eyes to the big world outside of her small one in Braintree, MA. Truly a woman of character, patriotism & a great American. The portrayals by the actors in this history were dead on as I imagined John & Abigail might have been. This dvd is an essential for high school American history classes. A real keeper & an example of television at it's best.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A. Taylor on January 23, 2006
Format: DVD
This documentary was extremely well done and had our whole family enthralled as the development of John and Abigail ensued. This is a very "real" portrayel of two incredibly strong and vivacious people that exhibited stamina far beyond what one can expect to endure today. Narrative interludes were appropriate and engaging. The acting was believable and well done with the dimention and deepness of the individuals clearly exhibited. THe connection between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was astonishing to say the least. I think most anyone would throughly enjoy all aspects of this production! I also recommend seeing the musical video 1776 to compare the portrayel of John Adams with this narrative. Enjoy!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By RaeAnne Forrest on May 15, 2006
Format: DVD
I caught this documentary on PBS tonight and immediately went online to see if it was available on DVD. The story of John and Abigail Adams is one of the most poignant in American history, and this film makes it accessible to even the most uninterested history-phobe. Interviews and cheesy re-enactments are cut to a minimum, and most of the story is told in voice-over and with quotes from letters written by John, Abigail, and their contemporaries, making it easy to watch as well as riveting. I was pleased with the portryal of John Adams here as well as Abigail; the insight into the founding of the US through their correspondence was eye-opening.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Newman on December 22, 2006
Format: DVD
In American Experience: John and Abigail Adams, we have a masterful blending of drama and documentary. Fine actors portray the characters, while some of our generation's most popular historians (Freeman, McCullough, Ferling, Ellis, etc.) provide the commentary. It is a celebration of individuals who of late have finally been getting the credit that the U.S. public has never given. Both John and Abigail come across as passionate patriots who are utterly devoted to one another, the image one perceives if one reads their personal correspondence. Jefferson comes across in a less than complimentary manner, taking some well-deserved lumps for his behavior during Adams' presidency. Interestingly, Abigail is placed squarely within a discussion of the highly controversial Sedition Act, citing concern over John's safety and the security of the U.S. government. Another reviewer called this television at its best. Imagine the world if this sort of quality was what was featured nightly on television.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Pirate Girl on September 5, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This historic piece was refreshingly well executed. From the casting to the cinematography, the romantic tale of John and Abigail Adams was well represented. It put forth the atmosphere of that period, as if you were actually living these times. The main three characters, were well cast, and did a wonderful job to bring forth the amicable, sometimes stressed, relationship between the Adams and Jefferson.
A highly recommended historic piece to be included in high school and college American history classrooms.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yankee Bill on March 22, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Growing up, my image of the Founding Fathers always seemed to focus on Washington, Jefferson & Franklin. Adams seemed secondary.

After seeing this, the viewer must come away with a high respect for both John & Abigail. One was nothing without the other.

A little acting, and a bit of historian narration, this DVD is both entertaining and informative. The actors do a wonderful job of conveying the lives of the people of the times.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on February 27, 2011
Format: DVD
John and Abigail Adams would be considered a love story, a very plain one of a married couple working as one to help each other reach their full potential in life. The difference here is that their potential was the development of a nation. If Abigail Adams saw the greatness in her husband before he was added to the pages of American history, her husband realized that his greatness lay in the trust, counsel, and wisdom of his wife.

As a delegate from Massachusetts, John Adams was a blunt man who realized sooner than his other learned colleagues that America's only course was independence from the greatest empire in the world. His bluntness and insight repelled and attracted his colleagues as he led some of them, kicking and screaming, toward a declaration of independence.

His wife and friend, Abigail provided the wisdom and patience her husband sometimes lack, and proved to be a better judge of character than him. If ever the United States could claim a "founding mother," Abigail Adams would be the only one to come to mind. Her husband relied on her, trusted her, and followed her counsel throughout his life.

None of this would have come to light if their correspondence during long and lonely years of separation had not survived. Abigail urged her husband to burn her letters, which he fortunately never did. These letters reassured and comforted each other. His letters provided her with news of a nation that was being born, and her letters provided him with the insight and confidence he needed in his career.

One of John Adams' greatest fears was that he would be forgotten for the sacrifices he made. He was away more time in their first fourteen years of marriage than he was with her, as he was appointed as Constitutional delegate and minister to France.
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