In the midst of a hostile relationship between the United States and France, Thomas Jefferson reads a memo from the French prime minister. The memo states that the U.S. must pay a $250,000 bribe to French officials and issue a $10 million loan to the government before the two countries can begin formal negotiations. John Adams suggests a plan to prepare for war, while Thomas Jefferson criticizes his willingness to wage war.
Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton dispute whether or not to issue a formal Proclamation of Neutrality. While both cabinet member agrees that the United States should stay neutral and avoid conflict after France declares war on Great Britain, they disagree on whether the United States should officially declare its neutrality status. President George Washington invites John Adams to dinner and discusses the matter with him.
John Dickinson and John Adams dispute the approach they should take to restore their rights that England has violated. John Dickinson believes they should exhaust all peaceful options and convince the English Parliament to restore the rights via an Olive Branch petition. John Adams feels that the only way to restore their rights is to go to war because he feels England will continue to ignore the requests of the colonies.
John Dickinson reads a summary of The Declaration and Resolves written by the First Continental Congress. The Declaration is the colonists' response to the Intolerable Acts and other objectionable actions performed by Great Britain. During the reading, John Adam expresses his disapproval of Congress' approach to the issues.
John Adams gives an impassioned speech in which he states his hope for a free republic that is governed by laws and not men. He states to the other delegates that they have a unique opportunity to choose a system of government for themselves and future generations. Adams believes it is now time to revolt against the British Empire. After the speech, several other delegates show their support for his case.