Abigail Smith Adams
Wife of the Second President of the United States
Abigail Smith Adams, wife of John Adams, second president of the United States, and mother of John Quincy Adams, the Sixth president. She was among the most remarkable women of the Revolutionary period.
The zeal and determination with which John Adams urged on the Declaration of Independence was staunchly supported by his brave wife. In her admirable letters to her husband we perceive her clear, advanced views on many questions. Speaking of the negro, eight-five years before the abolition of slavery, she says: “I wish most sincerely that there was not a slave in the province. It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me – to fight for ourselves for what we are daily robbing from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.”
And as to the rights of her own sex, a month or two before the Declaration of Independence was made, she writes thus to her statesman husband:
“I long to hear that you have declared an independence. 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 and your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands! 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 tyranical 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 a friend. Why, then, not put it out of teh power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of sense in all agest abhor those customs which treat us as the only vassals of your sex. Regard us, then, as being placed by Providence under your protection; and in imitation of the Supreme Being, make use of that power only for our happiness.”
Her lively interest in public affairs was kept up till the day of her death. Her writings show her to have been a woman of keeness, geniality, and they throw valuable light on the history and social life of her time.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.