This is the day John Adams and Abigail Smith were married in 1764 – he was about to celebrate his twenty-ninth birthday, she was just nineteen. Their marriage lasted 54 years until his death and her last words were, ‘John, it won’t be long now.’
Abigail had been a sickly child, not strong enough, her parents thought, for formal schooling. Her mother taught Abby and her sisters to read and write and they were then allowed the freedom of their father’s and grandfather’s large libraries.
Abigail was an autodidact who educated herself so well that John Adams was both surprised and impressed by her grounding in literature, philosophy and politics.
Abigail was a feminist, a highly competent farm manager, and apparently a pretty handy contractor. When the Adamses returned from his missions in France and England, they bought a small farmhouse in Quincy, Mass., known as the ‘Old House.’ Two rooms up and two down. It was quite, she said “like a wren’s nest.’ While John was away in Philadelphia much of the time, she took matters in hand and soon the house looked as it does today.
She had quite a radical view of women’s place, telling the Continental Congress that ‘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.’
They were an impressive pair, the Adamses. It’s all in David McCullough’s book or you can read Lynn Withey’s Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams on Google Books.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that there were so many outstanding Americans when there were so few of them.
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Many happy returns to author Anne Tyler, Helen Reddy and the fabulous Barbara Cook.