L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
The story is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It focuses on, and partly fictionalizes, the efforts of John Adams to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document.
It is another sultry day in Philadelphia. Washington's army needs money, the flies are murder and John Adams keeps on about Independence. Members of the Continental Congress are sick of his words and Benjamin Franklin knows it. He persuades John to let someone else, perhaps from the South, to introduce the measure
Franklin has asked the gullible Richard Henry lee to stop by and permits him to think of such a solution. Lee is off to his state legislature to be so directed. Lee finally returns and wastes no time in bringing the motion to the floor. Opponents quickly move to have the measure postponed. Adams, for once, convinces the Congress that the matter should at least be discussed. The narrow vote is against defeat. The opposition counters with a motion that any vote in independence be unanimous and this motion is carried. It is decided that the best way to present the measure would be in the form of a declaration. But who will write it? Everyone in the committee tries to avoid being landed with the job but in the end it is agreed that Thomas Jefferson should be the one to draw up such a declaration. He, however, wants to spend some time with his young wife, Martha, from whom he has been away too long.
Adam arranges for her to be brought to Philadelphia and work on the document proceeds vigorously.
The Independence Committee is called to investigate the problems of womanising, drinking and the "French disease" in Washington's army and to settle other important and grim matters the General keeps bringing before Congress.
In their absence the conservatives have their day by pleading the case against independence and pledge loyalty to the most powerful crown in the world. However, when Adams, Franklin and the others return from the front, they are inspired with the will to win! This spirit proves infectious and it paves the way for a debate on the Declaration. There are changes and compromises, but nothing of serious consequence. That is, until Edward Rutledge threatens to lead the South against the measure of freeing the slaves is permitted to remain in the proposal. Adam puts up a heated argument but Franklin, the founder of America's first anti-slavery society, suggests they agree to the deletion in order to give birth to the nation. A game of carefully waged politics wins the last few remaining pockets of resistance. American liberty is born as each member of the committee signs his name to the Declaration of Independence.