Abigail Adams was a public figure in America in the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century. Among the outstanding stories written on her name is the fact that she was a wife to an American president and later a mother to an American president, a legacy shared with only one other woman in America.
This paper seeks to discuss Abigail Adams as a famous woman in her American times and whether or not her fame was due to her husband’s legacy or due to her own making. The paper will look at the life history of Abigail, her achievements as a woman and her husband’s influence over her outstanding status.
Abigail Adams was born to William Smith on November eleventh in the year 1744. Her father was a religious leader and it is noted that her mother descended from lineage of highly regarded personalities in church among them, Quincy Elizabeth. Her family lived in Weymouth, Massachusetts among the Puritan settlers.
Abigail who was Smith’s second daughter did not have the opportunity to attend school. An excuse is given to her health which is claimed to have been unstable. She was however keen and learned a lot of things through observations. She also did some home reading, a fact that to an extent might have enlightened her.
Abigail got married to John Adams in the year 1764 and once again devoted her life to domestic life. The revolutionary war marked an empathetic emotion in her life as she felt the pain and suffering that people especially women went through in the event of war (American Revolution 1).
According to Gale, it was not Abigail alone who never went to school in the area at that period of time. It was common that women only had basic education and their primary focus according to the then traditions was to marriage. She however possessed outstanding personal qualities that made her adorable. Adams, who was later to become her husband, described her as “prudent, modest, delicate, soft sensible, obliging and active” (Gale 1).
In her marriage, she was active in the domestic chores taking care of the servant’s supervision, dealing with accounts records besides the household duties. She interestingly managed to have five children within a time span of eight years. She took the responsibility of being supportive to her husband as Adams was elected into congress (Gale 1).
Lewis Johnson also expresses Abigail as a woman who participated in advocating for women’s rights in her writings though they were letters to her husband which could otherwise be taken to be husband and wife talks. She through her extensive reading became outstanding in administration and financial management of the affairs of their firm. She lived in their home for most of her marriage life where she managed her family (Lewis 1).
The appointment of her husband Mr. Adams to vice presidency elevated her to publicity in different circumstances. Her husband’s presidency further opened her way to fame as a complement to the president’s career as well as a talented woman. Her talent was majorly exhibited in writing (American Revolution 1).
Abigail is recorded to have raised issues with her husband over rights of the American women. She is recorded to have urged her husband in a number of letters that he together with the other legislators was supposed to empower women into leadership. In one of her letters in 1776, she is recorded to have implored Mr. Adams that together with the congress, they ought to think about women and incorporate them in the government.
She expressed her dissatisfaction over the former generations whom she described as having been mean and unfavorable to the women. She advocated against unlimited power in the hands of men accusing them of being tyrant if they had an opportunity. She was even categorical to threaten that that they, as women, would form a rebellion if no consideration was given to their empowerment.
The passive advocacy in her letters could still be considered as constructive owing to the fact that her husband was an important in the administrative figure in the country’s administration. He was important in that in the moments that followed, he rose to become the country’s vice president and then later the president.
If he therefore influenced women empowerment policies, then the policies could as well be attributed to his wife Abigail (Adams et Al. 7). Abigail is also counted by O’Connor as one of the figures in gender and women’s leadership. He recounts that Abigail was one of the early advocates as she wrote to her husband over the issue.
He also brings out the view that contrary to the traditional opinion that leadership was a career for men, a new face was experienced where women came out and took part in measures that were to bring change. The first of this change was according to him first noted in Abigail as she made it to her husband that the plight of women had to be taken into consideration (O’Connor 61).
Contrary to the soft approach of Abigail’s advocacy by some writers, Gelles claimed that “the most famous advocate of women’s rights” was Abigail. Gelles noted that Abigail did not submit to all views of her husband but rather was an integral influence in much of the decisions that her husband made in the political arena (Gelles 1). She was not pleased when her husband ignored her activism and this provoked her into a “feminist activist”.
She then started soliciting for support from other sources like Mercy Warren. She is also noted to have challenged Thomas Jefferson over women’s rights. Her efforts to liberate women are therefore seen to have gone beyond the domestic or rather family discussions with her husband (Gelles 9).
It is notable that Abigail’s role in advocating for women’s rights was just but one of the reasons that rose her to fame. The fact that she was the wife to the vice president and later the president was a credit enough to give her fame. The presidency is a highly celebrated position and in her husband’s capacity, she was elevated to the eyes of the whole nation.
She would then be regarded among women and even publicized in her activities. The position would also put her into contact with influential personalities across the country who visited her husband. These among other things could have as well enhanced her fame (America 1; Abigail 1).
Abigail having been born in a generation where women were disregarded and not educated fought her way through unstable health into basic education. She got married to John Adams who later became the vice president then president of the United States.
She tried to influence her husband into making reforms that would value the status of women in the country and in her failure at this level advanced to collaborate with others in the fight. She later took a stern position challenging even president Jefferson over the issue.
Much regard can therefore be made to her initiative in the initial stages of the fight for the rights of women rather than her capacity as a wife to a president. This is because the effects of the fight was and still is felt and appreciated among many more than her being the wife of a president. Her fame is therefore more attributed to the women’s right activism.
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Gale, C. Women’s history. Gale Cengage Learning, 1996. Web 01 March 2011.
Gelles, Belle. Portia: the world of Abigail Adams. Bloomington: Indian university press, 1995. Print.
Lewis, Johnson. Abigail Adams. Women History, 2011. Web. 01 March, 2011. < http://womenshistory.about.com>
O’Connor, Karen. Gender and Women’s Leadership. New York, NY: SAGE, 2010. Print.