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Adams National Historic Site

Adams National Historic Site Adams National Historic Site
Courtesy of Adams National Historic Site.

Abigail Adams Abigail Adams
Photographs courtesy of Adams National Historic Site.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818), First Lady

Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams and mother of President John Quincy Adams, was born in 1744. She and her husband enjoyed a close and companionable relationship, and she wrote to him of her hopes for an independent nation. In May of 1776, nearly 150 years before women would vote in the U.S., Adams wrote to her husband in Philadelphia, from this home in Quincy:

I long to hear that you have declared an independency--and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary to make I desire that you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to ferment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation...(sic)

With those words, which so eloquently echoed her male counterparts’ objection to British oppression, Adams asserted herself as one of the country’s first advocates for women’s rights. Later the same year, rephrasing the same argument to her husband, she solidified her resolve:

I cannot say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, Emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives. But you must remember that Arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken--and notwithstanding all your wise Laws and Maxims we have in our power not only to free ourselves but to subdue our Masters, and without violence throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet...(sic)

Adams also championed the abolition of slavery with the same argument about declaring independence for some while withholding it from others. Abigail Adams continued to rally for the Ladies, even petitioning the Congress with a “List of Female Grievances,” until her death in 1818.

The Adams National Historical Site is located at 1250 Hancock St. in Quincy, MA. The park is open 9am-5pm seven days per week from April 19-November 10. It is closed the remainder of the year. For more information call 617-773-1177, or click here.

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Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-98 15:42:58EST