The letters exchanged between John and Abigail carries a lot of information about their life and service in the American society. These letters helped them stay in love even though they were staying apart. Communication is a vital element in marriage relationship. The letter, which is in the focus of this paper, is, on the one hand, just one of the 1200 letters, which are known to have been written by John and Abigail Adams during their marriage. This letter shows to her husband how much she does care for him and for their mutual relations. It is full of care, sadness, and regret of them being apart. Besides being a love letter, it is also a historical document. This is not because it is written by the first lady of the US, though this term was not used back then. The term was not invented by then, but Abigail, no doubt was the first lady of the US, even prior to her husband's being elected as a president. This is because her leadership abilities were evident long before her husband became president. In this letter, she raises the matter, which is one of the fundamental matters for the American democracy. The US, no doubt, would be different from what it is today, if this issue was not seriously addressed back then. And not only the US, the whole world would be a different place, and it is still a question, whether or not it would be as enlightened as it is.
Abigail starts her letter with a sad remark, complaining of the fact, that her husband writes too short letters to her: "I wish you would ever write me a letter half as long as I write you;" - she makes a start. However, it takes her just one more sentence to get right to the point - to discussing political issues. Despite having six children, despite being busy with the household, Abigail is very politically active, which is, to say the least, not very much characteristic of a woman of that time. Therefore, after the greeting and a short, half-ironic reproof of her husband, she gets to the politics, expressing her interest as for "where your Fleet are gone?". She is very much concerned as to whether or not Virginia is safe enough, and whether or not it is ready to meet possible enemy and fight against them. She discusses the matter in a few sentences, and then addresses another, very important issue of the time: Abigail is among those who believe that slavery is an unacceptable phenomenon for a country at the verge of its democratic experiment. She starts the next passage of her historic letter to her husband by expressing her strong belief: "I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for Liberty cannot be Equally Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow Creatures of theirs." She refers to the principles of Christianity, which seems to be accepted by the society, but, on the other hand, so wildly and unacceptably neglected by the very same society in their everyday lives.
In general, Abigail appears to be a very consistent believer in the values of democracy and this is why after discussing the horrible disease of slavery she gets t to yet another aspect of democracy, which is not yet implemented by US authorities and the US society in entirety. When speaking about the new code of laws, on which John, as a senate member, was working then, Abigail states: "I desire you would remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors." She keeps on defending her stand. It is not just something formal that needs to be done for the sake of it. It is a very important issue, and she strongly believes that each man, once given such a freedom, will show his titanic nature. This is why the unlimited power, husbands had in her days, had to be limited significantly. Some of the men are smart enough to set those limits for themselves, and John, no doubt, is one of such, seeing her not only as a vassal or piece of property or as a tool, but as a friend and a partner. But by far, not all men are like that. Their power over their wives needs to be limited and the rights of men and women need to be at least somewhat close to each other. Basically, this is the main theme of the letter. Abigail keeps on reflecting on this subject until the very end of the letter. Amazingly, she ends it without saying "good bye". The letter was written on the 31st of March 1776. However, Abigail had no opportunity to send it out, and on April the 5th she adds a few more lines to her letter. In this "appendix" she speaks mainly about sad things, happening in the town of Braintree, where she is now located. She mentions about neighbors and relatives who are sick with very unpleasant diseases, about how deeply sorry she feels for them and other similar issues. This is more like a letter of a wife to her husband in a traditional understanding of the concept. Then another gentle reproof follows - she would really like to hear more frequently from her husband than she does. It's nearly a month since she's heard anything from him. Then she proceeds to answer some of the questions, asked by him in that letter of March the eighth. These have to do with the household and related issues. She also mentions a manuscript, which she has recently seen, and which she believes may be of some help to her husband. If so, she asks him to inform her about it, and she'd get it transcribed and sent it over to him. Then she, finally, tells him that his friends and relatives are saying "hello, and ends the letter with the words: "I need not say how much I am your ever faithful Friend”. This part of the letter is, definitely, written by a loving wife.
Abigail was a wife, a partner, a friend, and a political advisor to her husband. It is worth to note that she is his third cousin. According to McCullough, John would often address Abigail for an approval of his decisions, judgments and so on. She was so politically active, that was oftentimes referred to as "MRS. President". Needless to say, her personality and her intelligence had great influence on the politics of the United States and on the formation of democratic society of the USA. She also had great influence on the areas of her interest – slavery, equal rights for women and other important issues. And all that was done – hard to believe – by a formally illiterate woman; one who completed no education at all. She was considered to be too sick for going to school, and, therefore, according Carter, she was educated only by her mother, who was capable of waking a great interest in her daughter towards knowledge, literature and sciences. Taking advantage of large libraries of her relatives, Abigail managed to self-educate herself to a great level.
The letter has great historical meaning. It is very important to understand that Abigail was the first to raise the question of women being equal to men and having the same rights. But she not only wrote and spoke about the problem she showed that women have such rights. She was effective not only in their families and at their homes but also at the political arena. Formally being just a wife of the sixth American president, she meant much more for the US and for the whole world for that matter. She was one of the women who changed the world’s view of female rights and their role in the society.
Her life and work, the issues she discussed in her letter, known as “remember the ladies” remain important even now, almost 250 years later. A lot has been done in bid to achieve equal rights for men and women. But it would be wrong to say, that the goal is reached. The democracy is still struggling its way to the equal rights, people are still fighting for such, and female movement, though much stronger nowadays than it used to be in the times of Abigail, has got a long way to go still. numerous freedoms and rights are to be fought for and the words of Abigail will sound as a slogan for the women all over the world, fighting for their rights, words, written by a woman, who not only demanded the rights to be provided, but also proved that she and her kind do deserve such rights. She did so without fearing of being the first one, decisively stepping out of the crowd and speaking both for herself and for those who did not dare to do so at the time. Such people do make history, such people remain always alive, just as their idea and their doings do.
Adams, Abigail, "Remember the Ladies", 1776, retrieved from http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/165adams-rtl.html
Carter, Laurie, "Noble, "Abigail Adams". ND.
McCullough, David (September 2002). John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 272.
"This Day in History in 1828", www.history.com