by Elissa Blattman, Project Assistant
2. Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818), wife of John Adams
Abigail Adams is one of the most popular First Ladies. She is often referred to as John Adams’ intellectual equal, confidant, closest advisor, and soul mate. Many people are aware of her “Remember the Ladies” letter to John, which she wrote while he was at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia during the planning and writing of the Declaration of Independence. In the letter she famously states, “in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.” For urging her husband to consider giving women the vote and other rights when setting the new laws of the land, Abigail is lauded as an early suffragist and feminist.
Unlike the lack of remaining correspondence between Martha and George Washington, Abigail and John wrote over 1,100 letters to each other that continue to provide us with a great deal of information. Being such close partners (John thanked her in one letter for being his partner), the two missed each other greatly when John was away on political business and kept in regular touch. According to some, the couple was acutely aware of the importance of their personal letters and wanted them to be saved for historical purposes. John even bought a leather-bound book to keep his letters from Abigail in and suggested Abigail get one to do the same with his letters to her. The Adams’ letters shed a great deal of light onto the kind of woman Abigail was as well as her relationship with John. Also unlike Martha and George, there is no debating that Abigail and John’s marriage was one full of love, romance, admiration, and respect. Read the rest of this entry »