Thursday, March 13, 2008


'John Adams', the seven part mini-series about the American patriot, debuts this coming Sunday on HBO. It's based on the book by David McCullough; it's produced by Tom Hanks; and it stars Paul Giamatti as Adams.

The American Revolution is one of my favorite areas of interest - yes, there is more that occupies my mind than the TV Universe! Along with the Revolution, there's also Sherlock Holmes, Greek mythology, American Indian myths, tall tales and legends, and urban fantasy. Oh
yeah. And porn. (All of which sooner or later shows up in TV anyway.)

But there's another reason now why I'm eager to see this mini-series. One of my friends, John O'Creagh, will be in at least three episodes, maybe four, as Stephen Hopkins, a fellow member of the Continental Congress who hailed from Rhode Island.

Even though he's in the background, Stephen Hopkins can easily be seen in that famous painting of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence. He's the one wearing his hat.

Here's a partial reprint of Hopkins' entry at Wikipedia:

Stephen Hopkins (March 7, 1707–July 13, 1785)
was an American political leader from Rhode Island who signed the Declaration of Independence. He served as the Chief Justice and Governor of colonial Rhode Island and was a Delegate to the Colonial Congress in Albany in 1754 and to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776.

Hopkins spoke out against British tyranny long before the revolutionary period. In 1764 he published a pamphlet "The Rights of the Colonies Examined" whose broad distribution and criticism of taxation and Parliament built his reputation as a revolutionary leader.

In 1773, he freed his slaves, and the following year, while serving in the Rhode Island Assembly in 1774, he introduced a bill that prohibited the importation of slaves into the colony. This became one of the first anti-slavery laws in the new United States.

He led the colony's delegation to the Continental Congress later in 1774, along with Samuel Ward, and was a proud signer of the Declaration of Independence. He recorded his name with a trembling right hand, which he had to guide with his left. Hopkins had cerebral palsy, and was noted to have said, as he signed the Declaration, "My hand trembles, my heart does not."

Hopkins' knowledge of the shipping business made him particularly useful as a member of the naval committee established by Congress to purchase, outfit, man and operate the first ships of the new Continental Navy. Through his participation on that committee, Hopkins was instrumental in framing naval legislation and drafting the rules and regulations necessary to govern the fledgling organization during the American War for Independence.

In September 1776, his poor health forced him to resign from the Continental Congress and return to his home in Rhode Island. From 1777 to 1779, Hopkins remained an active member of Rhode Island's general assembly.

I found this elsewhere:

Hopkins served in the Congress, distinguishing himself as a bold orator. "The liberties of America would be a cheap purchase with the loss of but 100,000 lives," he confessed to a colleague.

McCullough has stated that this mini-series is quite authentic, so I'll be interested to see if they had John play the role of Stephen Hopkins with his trembling hand and wearing his hat. Hopefully, he'll also get to say that line of dialogue about his shaky signature, as I think it's a powerful quote.

There's another reason why I'm happy John O'Creagh is playing the role of Stephen Hopkins..... That headline wrote itself!

Toby OB


Anonymous said...

That second picture of Hopkins looks like Harvey Korman could have played the role thirty years ago!

"Mayr" said...

You are the best!!
THANK YOU! That is so cool!

Love, Mayr