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Who Was Abigail Adams?

Mrs. Adams was one of the earliest feminists, and would forever affect today's women.

Abigail Adams is an important feminist figure in the United States. As the wife of John Adams, Abigail used her job to push forward her own powerful Federalist and feminist views. Mrs. Adams was one of the earliest feminists, and would forever affect today's women.

Her Background

Born to the large house in Weymouth, Massachusetts on Nov 11, 1744, Abigail Adams’ father, Reverend William Smith, was part of the influential ministerial group within the Congregational Church. Her mother Elizabeth was the descendant of the Quincy house.

Her Work

Like most other women of the time, Abigail had no formal education. However, she was self taught, and joined her mother in tending to the poor and ill. In 1764, Abigail married John Adams, a Harvard student starting the police job. The couple went to Adams’ estate in Braintree, South of Boston, and they had three sons and two girls. As her husband increasingly traveled as a professional, political revolutionary, and—after the Revolution—a diplomat, Abigail did their work and business affairs while caring for their kids. Although married women in the period had restricted property rights, Adams started to refer to their place as hers.

In contrast, young John Adams, her future husband, was able to get the proper childhood education, as his father was the deacon of the Congregational religion, and also as the deputy of the local force. In 1761, Adam's dad passed away because of the influenza epidemic. John grew to become a revolutionary leader, and eventually, ascended to the office of president, all the while with Abigail at his side, advising him.

Abigail and John

Abigail Adams was the partner of John Adams, second president of the United States, and mother of John Quincy Adams, sixth president of this country. Abigail Adams turned into one of the most powerful women of her time. During her husband’s regular, and prolonged absences serving the people, she advised him through long letters.

The Presidency

John Adams served as the second President of the United States from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801. Abigail Adams was the First Lady of the United States of America. She advised him during the significant events of his administration that included the XYZ Affair, and this Quasi-War with France that affected the US Navy. This French Revolution was happening when John Adams was president, and he responded with the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts. Prior to this, John Adams was a leader in the American Revolution. The revolutionary war caused many types of scars-- especially physical, but also emotional and political. Which in turn led to the establishment of the United States of America. John Adams was an important figure throughout this process.

Women's Rights

Abigail Adams was a woman, and a mother, but she was more than this. She was regarded as the informal advisor for her partner John Adams. President Adams often requested advice from Abigail on issues. Abigail was a voice for women's rights, and the Federalist cause.

Abigail Adams held high hopes that one day this nation would allow for women to be treated equally as men. Abigail Adams was an important woman of her time, and one of the early enthusiastic supporters of women's rights. Abigail Adams was critical to this movement, because without her effort the women's vote could not have been as productive as it is today.

Her bold statements and thoughts in her letters reveal her hopes of changing the cultural place for women within this revolutionary period, and her concern for, and understanding of, political matters during the period. Do not place total power into the hands of husbands. Of course, she shouldn't be remembered simply as John Adams’ wife, but as an important historical figure in her own right. She fought for her ideas to be heard in a time when women were discounted. Her thoughtful contributions had political impact though the career of John Adams, but imagine if she had been able to wield power like a man–her impact would have been even greater.