“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.” Abigail Adams
These words (and many more!) were written by Abigail Adams to her husband John Adams when the Second Continental Congress was formed and its (all male) members debated and deliberated over the writing of the Declaration of Independence. She argued in many letters to her husband that the creation of a new form of government was a chance to make the legal status of women equal to that of men.
The quote above is prefaced by “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…..”
Abigail’s influence and advise to her husband during the Continental Congress, as well being both a wife to one President and mother to another, resulted in some historians referring to her as the “Founding Mother” of the United States. But her ideas of freedom and independence were more inclusive than those of the founding fathers. Not only did she advocate for women’s rights, she also opposed slavery, stating in a letter that most Virginians, as slave owners, did not have such a passion for Liberty “as they claimed they did, since they deprive their fellow Creatures” of freedom.
When a freed young black man came to her home in Philadelphia asking for her help in learning to read and write she helped him enroll in a school. Her response to a complaining neighbor was:
[he is] “a Freeman as much as any of the young Men and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? … I have not thought it any disgrace to my self to take him into my parlor and teach him both to read and write.”
She also wanted women to be given equal opportunities for education:
“If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.“
“you need not be told how much female education is neglected, nor how fashionable it has been to ridicule female learning.”
She continued to be John Adam’s closest advisor and confidant through his presidency and in her later years continued her political interests by following the career of her son, John Quincy Adams, though she did not live to see him become president.
Oh Abigail, you were ahead of your times, but your spirit lived on in the early suffragettes, and lives on in the wave of women who have risen to the occasion to run for political offices locally and nationally in the past few years. Called “Mrs President” (meant to be derogatory) by a journalist at the time for her “meddling” in her husband’s presidency, perhaps in the near future that title will be carried by someone with pride as women gain more representation, a dream of her’s over 200 years ago!
Happy Independence Day for all…….regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality!
A little floral color for your 4th