Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Remember the Ladies," writes Abigail Adams

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Loretta reports:

It was about this time of year, when New England was showing faint signs of spring, that Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, a long letter that included the following words. I post the excerpt without comment, leaving commentary to you.
Braintree, 31 March, 1776….

I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, 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 favorable 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 particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

That your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute; but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend. Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex; regard us then as beings placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution: With a Memoir of Mrs. Adams, edited by Charles Francis Adams, 1875.

You can see the letter online at the Massachusetts Historical Society site.
Small image here.  Large image here.

You can also read here about her pearl necklace.


Elizabeth said...


sibyl said...

A very wise woman but her husband wasn't paying much attention or he might have done more to ensure women's representation under the new constitution that deprived women of property rights as well as voting rights.

Iva Polansky said...

It only reminds us how recent are the women rights.

Cincinnatus said...

My takeaway from Abigail and John's letters (which have been quoted in several books in the last decade)is that she was an incredibly brilliant, influential, and well-read woman. Her husband felt absolutely comfortable discussing these issues with her, seeking her counsel, and giving weight to her input. It is one of the great ironies of the time that suffrage was not extended beyond a certain demographic-but the nation was shaped by people who saw "liberty" through the lenses of tradition and in a different context that we do today. Womens' rights were actually greater prior to the revolution in some areas (again, irony) and history has largely ignored the contribution of women to this period. Abigail Adams has always been one of my favorite founders and like wine, her letters just get better as she ages. Thanks for posting.

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