Abigail Adams: A Woman of Contradictions

An excerpt from Women of the American Revolution:


“Abigail Adams was a renowned letter writer, making her one of the most studied and admired of the women of the American Revolution. As her husband once observed, ‘My wife must write!’ Abigail wrote to her sister, Mary Cranch, ‘My letters to you are first thoughts without corrections.’  Her writing, therefore, gives historians an unpolished and honest look at the life of women of this era. It is also a genuine record of Abigail’s personality and character, which would be impossible to obtain through any other source.

Two centuries of historians have attempted to paint different pictures of Abigail Adams, and the one thing that is often agreed upon is that Abigail is a character full of contradictions. Portrayals of her as a politician or feminist fail to understand Abigail’s own mindset and acceptance of the role she played in her own society. Her priorities were the management of her home and proper raising of her children, and, though she enjoyed discussing politics especially with her highly political husband, she would not have described herself as a political activist. In her own words, ‘I believe nature has assigned to each sex its particular duties and sphere of action, and to act well your part, “there all the honor lies.”’  Abigail insisted, ‘However brilliant a woman’s tallents may be, she ought never to shine at the expence of her Husband.’  While Abigail had called upon John to ‘Remember the Ladies,’ she also wrote to him, ‘Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.’  A reading of their letters also reveals that while John and Abigail came to their political opinions while apart, they often arrived at the same conclusions.

Neither was Abigail a submissive, angelic wife. Her letters, which she never intended for publication, reveal a woman with opinions and complaints about daily life and even her famous spouse. On the other hand, reflecting on marriage to John, Abigail wrote, ‘After half a century, I can say. My choice would be the same if I again had youth and opportunity to make it.’ “

Read more about Abigail in Women of the American Revolution! It is available at Pen & SwordAmazonBook DepositoryBarnes & Noble, or your favorite book retailer. 

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