Disclaimer: I do not own the musical or movie version of 1776 nor any of the real historical figures it is based on.
Note: So I know that Dickinson wrote the final draft of The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms and I heard that the portion that Adams quoted specifically from it was, in fact, written by Dickinson and not Jefferson. I don't know if that's true but if it is…
"And we solemnly declare that we will preserve our liberties being, with one mind, resolved to die free men rather than to live slaves," Adams quoted. "Thomas Jefferson, on the Necessity of Taking Up Arms, 1775. Magnificent. Why, you write ten times better than any man in Congress…including me." Adams being Adams, it really was necessary for him to add that he considered himself part of the group of people that Jefferson wrote better than.
For his part, Jefferson had gotten a slightly confused look on his face and now trailed after Adams down the stairs. "Those lines…why did you choose those lines?"
"Those were the most masterfully written of the entire piece," Adams declared. "And all of them were very stirring and poetic, I assure you."
"And that's what you want?" Jefferson pressed. "You want the man who wrote those lines to write your Declaration of Independence?"
"It's not my Declaration of Independence," Adams argued unconvincingly. "And yes, that's what I've been saying. Only the man who wrote those lines could possibly be able to write the masterpiece that we need."
"Right," Jefferson said with a crisp nod. "I absolutely agree. Those were some very well-written lines. Now, if you'll excuse me…" He attempted to push past Adams.
Naturally, Adams refused to budge. "Where are you going? Will you write the declaration?"
"I am going home to see my wife like I've been saying I was going to do since before Richard read off that resolve," Jefferson said firmly.
"But…you just said that you agreed that you should write it!" Adams objected. "We only have three weeks! Are you planning on writing the declaration while you're there and hurrying straight back?"
"No, I said that the person who wrote those lines should write it…which you also agreed to, Mr. Adams," Jefferson pointed out.
"And you wrote the them," Adams countered.
Jefferson smiled at that. "Actually, Mr. Adams, I think you'll find that I did not."
"Then who did?" Adams asked skeptically.
"Mr. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania," Jefferson announced.
Adams paled. "Good God! The only thing worse than that would be if Rutledge had written it."
"Well, now that you have the name of the man you want to write your declaration, I'll be off," Jefferson said blithely.
"Oh, don't you dare! You know that I cannot get Dickinson to write our declaration!" Adams cried out.
Jefferson raised an eyebrow innocently. "You cannot? But why ever not? I seem to remember you saying something not two minutes ago about how he would be the only person who could do it."
"For one thing, he is not even a member of this committee," Adams replied.
Jefferson shrugged. "That's easily fixable. I was substituted for Richard when he left to become governor. Just replace me with Dickinson."
"We need to have a Virginian on the committee," Adams insisted. "It's the Virginia Resolve, after all."
"Mr. Dickinson can take my spot," Livingston volunteered. "As I'm also leaving."
Adams shot him a withering glare. "You're not helping."
"I don't know, Mr. Adams," Jefferson said, clearly enjoying himself immensely. "That does sound like a sensible solution. And I'll even stay on this committee so that you will have a Virginian. I just can't write the document."
"Dickinson is practically a loyalist," Adams said dismissively. "We can't very well ask him to write our declaration!"
"And why not?" Jefferson challenged. "After all, the sooner the declaration is finished the sooner the resolve on independence can be voted on and he was very much opposed to the delay. As things stand now, six colonies stand against independence. If you can delay the vote long enough, who knows how it will go? Yes, I think he would write it, actually."
"I cannot believe I am even having this conversation…" Adams muttered, rubbing his forehead wearily. "Even if Dickinson could be persuaded to write it, who would take a declaration like that seriously coming from a loyalist? And since Dickinson is so vehemently opposed to independence – which he insists is treason – how convincing could he possibly be?"
"He's a lawyer," Jefferson said simply. "He does that kind of thing for a living. And who knows? If the leader of the anti-Independence movement can find something positive to say about our bid for independence then it may convince others."
"You're not seriously suggesting that I try to get him to write this," Adams said flatly.
"You could ask Mr. Hancock to assign him to this committee instead if you'd like," Jefferson suggested. "Or you could get Dr. Franklin to ask him since they're both from Pennsylvania. That's really not my concern, however, as I, my dear Mr. Adams, am going home." With that, he strode towards the door.
Adams stood there seething over the very idea for a moment before chasing after Jefferson with the quill held tightly in his hand. "Mr. Jefferson! Don't think you're getting away that easily! I'll chase you all the way back to Virginia if I have to!"