December 18, 2008

Abigail Adams

As I wrote yesterday about John, I thought I would write a little about Abigail. I studied her in a freshman history class, and took her as a hero. Intelligent, sharp-witted--a true partner to her husband. There are books about her, and you can read her correspondence, which sparkles (a cliche, but oh-s0-true) with life and vitality. Throughout her letters you can read of her passion for her husband, her thoughts on his duty to America, her duty as a wife and mother, and her real, true opinions of other political figures.

Abigail to John, as he became president (and after 33 years of marriage):
The cold has been more severe than I can ever before recollect. It has frozen the ink in my pen, and chilled the blood in my veins, but not the warmth of my affection for him for whom my heart beats with unabated ardor through all the changes and vicissitudes of life, in the still calm of Peacefield, and the
turbulent scenes in which he is about to engage.

Abigail to Thomas Jefferson, responding heatedly to his claim that he had not supported a libelous newspaperman:

The serpent you cherished and warmed, bit the hand that nourished him, and gave you sufficient specimens of his talents, his gratitude, his justice, and his truth. When such vipers are let loose upon society, all distinction between virtue and vice are leveled, all respect for character is lost.

Abigail to her only daughter, on the subject of grandparenting:

I begin to think grandparents not so well qualified to educate grandchildren as parents. They are apt to relax in their spirit of government, and be too indulgent.

I could go on.
This painting of Abigail was painted by Gilbert Stuart while she was still first lady. While painting it, Stuart remarked that as a young woman she must have been a "perfect Venus," to which Adams replied, "She was! Oh, sir, she was."

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