Abigail Adams

by Tatum McDonald

Early Childhood

When she was a young girl Abigail Adams was too frail to attend school. Even if she were in better shape, it was very rare to see women attending school in that time period. Despite this, her father, a congressional minister, gave her access to his library of books to educate herself. She took an interest in philosophy, theology, Shakespeare, government, and law. These interests led to her having some widely unaccepted views on women's rights.

Role In The Revolution

During the Revolutionary War, Abigail supplied her husband with news for Boston while he was away. He first heard about the attack on Breed's Hill (more commonly known as the Attack on Bunker Hill) from one of her letters. When the British fired on Boston Harbor she took her children home and started making guns made of of metals that she found around the house. She was also appointed, by the Massachusetts Colony General, to question her fellow Boston women about their loyalty to the colonies. Abigail first met George Washington shortly after he was given command of the colonial army. At first she had her reservations about him, but eventually she grew to enjoy his company.

"Remember the Ladies"

When her husband, John Adams, was working on the Declaration Of Independence she sent him many letters pushing for women to have more rights, like voting and owning property. She wrote many letters to her husband, which are now considered some of the earliest callings for women's rights. In her letters she said "Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we're determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." (March 31, 1776). Even though Abigail believed that the women's role was in the house, being a wife and raising the children, she greatly admired women who broke past those barriers.
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As A First Lady

Abigail Adams was very involved in her husband's political career. She was so involved that people started sarcastically calling her "Mrs. President." She was the first First Lady to live in the White House. It was still being built when she and John Adams moved in. She is featured on a $10 coin from the First Spouse collection made by the U.S. mint. In addition to being the First Lady she was also the mother of the 6th president, her son, John Quincy Adams.

Representing The Unrepresented

Abigail fought strongly to guarantee rights for those who didn't have many, or any. She fought for the colonies, for women, and for slaves. When she first met Martha and George Washington she was very hesitant about fully supporting them, because of their views on slavery. In one of her many letters to John while he was away, she said "...whilst you are proclaiming peace and goodwill to men, emancipating nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives." He took her letters as if they were written in jest, and did not listen to a word that she said. Eventually she wrote to her friend, Mercy Otis Warren, asking her to petition congress about laws that favor women.
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A Rebel Till The End

Abigail Adams died on October 28, 1818 at 73 years old. She fell ill with Typhoid Fever and died shortly after. In her last words, Abigail asked her husband not to grieve because it was her time to go. "Do not grieve my friend, my dearest friend. I am ready to go. And John, it will not be long." As a final act of rebellion, in her will, she left most of her possessions to female relatives, instead of leaving it all to her husband and children. She did not live long enough to see her son become the 6th president.

Bibliography

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