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Abigail Adams: Revolutionary Woman

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
October 13, 2022 3:02 am

Abigail Adams: Revolutionary Woman

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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October 13, 2022 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Professor Woody Holton of the University of South Carolina tells the life story of First Lady Abigail Adams from his award winning biography Abigail Adams.

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That's U-N-E-S-T dot C-O. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, including yours.

Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. Our favorite type of storytelling is American history. As always, all of our history storytelling is brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College.

Go to Hillsdale.edu to sign up for their free and terrific online courses. Up next, the story of Abigail Adams, the second First Lady of the United States and the wife of President John Adams. Professor Woody Holton of the University of South Carolina will be sharing with us Abigail Adams' story from his award-winning biography entitled Abigail Adams. Abigail was born a preacher's daughter in 1744 in Massachusetts, just south of Boston. Women in those days were not allowed to go to college or even high school, but Abigail found her own way to educate herself.

Here's Professor Holton with the story. So Abigail Adams, she did self-educate similarly to the way Benjamin Franklin did. Although I discovered writing my book, which I just called Abigail Adams, that she and her female friends and cousins also did something that you wouldn't call self-education or being autodidacts, but I used the term social education.

And what I mean is they took responsibility for informally educating each other. And in particular, there was one cousin that she would write these long letters and you would think reading them that the cousin lives in Philadelphia or maybe even back in London or whatever. The cousin lived like right down the street.

And they're writing letters back and forth anyway, because they knew that that was how they would educate themselves and each other in writing and in analyzing literature and so forth. So that's a big part of her youth, to be a preacher's daughter, to going around with her mother while Reverend Smith was writing his sermons and all that. The wife was going around and taking care of the poor people of the neighborhood. And Abigail really learned that you could deride it now as noblesse oblige, one must do what one can. But she had a big heart. She really learned that from her mother.

But she did spend a lot of time at the home of her grandfather, the big politician, and had access to his books. And that again helped her pursue her self-education. And then she met this guy, John Adams, who had been to Harvard and then gone out to Worcester in central Massachusetts to teach school, which he hated. He thought he was better than that. And so it did not last very long as a school teacher.

So he came back to the Boston area. Most people didn't really go to law school in those days. You read law with some person who was already a lawyer, basically apprentice. And shortly after he began his legal practice, he was introduced to her. And it was pretty close to love at first sight. And we know that because the letters that went back and forth between them are so sweet and so affectionate.

Historians used to think that affectionate marriage was a 19th century invention, but we're finding lots of evidence from earlier centuries. But you don't need to go any further back than these letters that Abigail Smith, as her name was, and John Adams exchanged in the early 1760s. And so it wasn't long before marriage was being talked about and her parents were dead set against her marrying John Adams, which, you know, from our standpoint, he's this great American hero.

Now you go, you dummies, how could you possibly... But their issue with John Adams was not so much the guy, but where he was in life. That is, because of this detour out to be a teacher and because he'd had to spend all his time apprenticing to the law, he had just gotten started in his career.

And like young lawyers today, men as well as women, he didn't have a lot of clients yet and he just wasn't established. And so remember from The Sound of Music where the 16-year-old falls in love with a 17-year-old boy, Julie Andrews sings, wait a year or two. That's what her parents were saying. But, you know, neither of them wanted to wait and it wasn't clear, you know, that the other would wait. They pushed and pushed and finally dissolved her parents objections to their marriage. And they were married in 1764 and settled down for what could have easily been a pretty normal life.

Him off on the road because you're going and working in different courts, her take main responsibility for raising the family. But then comes the revolution. He played a big role in the Boston Massacre. He actually was a lawyer for the soldiers who had fired the shots. And so he started writing in support of the revolution. And he was sent to the First Continental Congress in 1774.

And that Congress only lasted a couple of months. And so he was back home pretty soon. But then he went off again to the Second Continental Congress and was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence. And then in 1778, he left Congress, came home very briefly and was sent off to Europe. And he didn't come back until 1788.

And so my point is there was this seven-year period when they were separated by an ocean. And you can see why she would describe it as her widowhood. She could easily have become an actual widow because during the first part of that period, there was a war on and she was miserable, but she got busy. And that's when she started taking charge of the family finances and doing such a good job, making the Adams family wealthy in a way that they would remain all through the 19th century. And you've been listening to Professor Woody Holton tell the story, the early story, of Abigail Adams and how Abigail came to know John and marry him.

When we come back, more of this remarkable life story and this remarkable American couple here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 90210MG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by NerdTechODT. We recorded it at iHeartRadio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that NerdTechODT Remedapants 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?

It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTechODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTechODT Remedapants 75 milligrams.

Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family, but thankfully NerdTechODT Remedapants 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. This is DJ EFN. The Black Effect podcast network is sponsored by BetterHelp online therapy. Life can get overwhelming for all of us. For many people, it's not easy to open up to someone and discuss our vulnerabilities, but not long ago I found myself in a place where I needed someone to talk to. I'm a relatively new father with two very young children in the home and although I always wanted kids, I waited because I was wanting to be as stable as possible in my life both mentally and financially.

What I learned is never the right time because life doesn't work that way and the pressure I felt and feel wanting to be the father I never had is a heavy weight at times to bear. Compound that with the career and lifestyle that goes with my career, I find myself in dual worlds that often don't mesh. Nothing comes easy and every day is a work in progress, but as long as you're working on yourself, you're moving in the right direction. BetterHelp is secure online therapy that offers video, phone, and even live chat sessions with a licensed professional therapist. When you sign up, you can filter results by age, gender, cultural background, and expertise. BetterHelp strives to meet their clients where they need them. For those not ready for traditional therapy, there are support groups available to join for community. Therapy can be done from anywhere and you can also switch therapists as much as you want. The Black Effect podcast network is sponsored by BetterHelp online therapy. Visit betterhelp.com slash black effect and join over 2 million people who have taken charge of their mental health. With the help of an experienced BetterHelp therapist. Our listeners get 10% off their first month of online therapy at betterhelp.com slash black effect.

That's betterhelp.com slash black effect. Hi, I'm Jonathan Strickland, host of the Restless Ones. Join me as I sit down for in-depth discussions with the leaders at the intersection of technology and business. Leaders like Robert Morkos, founder of Social Mobile. Workforces are being mobilized now and it's clear that everyone needs a secure connected device. Whether a vaccine administration machine, remote patient monitoring, where they set up your house, electronic visitor verification where someone comes to your home, a lot of it could have been driven by the pandemic and the necessity to build up this infrastructure. But I think it's just clear now that healthcare is mass adopting all types of enterprise mobility solutions as homes need to be turned into like hospitals now. The Restless Ones is now available on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you listen to podcasts. Presented by T-Mobile for business.

5G that's ready right now. And we return to Al American Stories. We've been listening to Professor Woody Holton tell the story of Abigail Adams from his biography of the same name. We learned that although Abigail was not formally educated, she found ways to educate herself. Abigail and John had married and were beginning their happy life together, but then came the American Revolution.

We return to Professor Holton for more of the story. One of the great things about writing about the Adams is how much of their correspondence survived. We have more than a thousand of their letters back and forth. And that's one of the ironies of it. If the revolution hadn't happened and he had stayed home as a lawyer, we'd have hardly any letters for them because there wouldn't have been any need for them. And so it's a boon to us, but it was rough for them.

But they both had the resilience. I mean, he had opportunities to come home a bunch of times and felt like his duty as a citizen required him to stay. And she persisted through a lot of that, but I will say we all have our limits. And she reached a point in around 1784 when she said, OK, that's it, John, you've been over there in Europe for about six years and it's really time for you to come home. And she had a very interesting way of getting him to come home, which was there was a piece of land near their home in Massachusetts that John had been wanting to buy for years. And she knew he wanted this land and it just hadn't come on the market, but it did come on the market while he was gone. So she wrote him and said, look, I can buy this land, they say place it was called.

I can buy this place, but you don't have the money right now. But she says, I know where I can borrow some money for you to buy this land, but I'm only going to do that if you'll agree to come home. Researching further, I realized who she was going to borrow this money from to buy him this land if he came home. And that was herself, because out of all the money that Abigail had made for John during the during his absence, she'd started setting some of that money aside and calling it her own. Now, women under English common law, which still prevailed in the United States after it became an independent nation, they adopted English common law. Once you get married, you can be like Martha Washington, the richest, she was the richest widow in Virginia until she married George.

And then it was all Georges. And that was true of Abigail and John too. Legally, she owned nothing, but she'd made so much money for her husband and nothing against John, but she thought that was so unfair. So when she basically tried to bribe her husband to come home from Europe, 1783, 1784, she was bribing him with what was legally his own money, but which she had claimed as hers. He didn't come home in 1783 and 84. In fact, she ended up joining him in the latter half of 1784 and she didn't buy the lamb because, you know, he didn't play his part. My point is that she was a very devoted wife.

He was a devoted husband, but it wasn't like all a bed of roses. They had their battles over what to invest the family money in, whether he should come home or stay and things like that. And they were pretty tough negotiators with each other that they didn't, I don't think either of them felt like that diminished their affection for each other. I would call them the perfect couple, but that doesn't mean that they were a couple who never disagreed about anything because they did. He had his opinions and she had hers too.

And it's fun to watch them argue about things in their letters. The classic conflict between Abigail and John Adams, we know the exact day it began and that was March 31st, 1776. John is down in Philadelphia as a member of the Continental Congress and Abigail is back home in Massachusetts. And the time of year is important here. It's March, it's Massachusetts.

Finally, you're starting to hear the birds chirp again and see a little bit of green outside your window. It was a time of real hopefulness for her. She was hopeful that Congress would go ahead and declare independence, which she and John both wanted that to happen.

But anyway, so she writes this letter, March 31st, 1776 saying, I wish you guys would go ahead and declare independence. And by the way, when you guys sit down to write our new code of laws, I want you to remember the ladies. And specifically what she wanted the Congress to do was to provide protection for women in the case of abusive husbands. There was very little protection for people who suffered from spousal abuse and basically no protection for women who did. One of the rights of a man was to correct his servants and his slaves and his children and his wife.

And by correct, I don't mean correct their pronunciation. I mean, strike them to punish them for not doing as he directed. And so she, John never hit Abigail, of course, but there were husbands who did. And so she buttered him up a little bit. She said, look, basically good husbands like you don't need this kind of law, but there are other husbands for whom this law should exist. And so she really urged him to do that.

It was a very common sense request on her part. She also buttered him up by quoting him a couple of times. There's nothing more that anybody likes, I think probably especially guys than to be quoted, to have their own words quoted. And one of his lines was all men would be tyrants if they could. And when he said it, he meant it in the same sense that Jefferson would write a few months later, all men are created equal. He meant, you know, men will tyrannize over each other. But she sort of threw it back to him as all men, as in all males, would be tyrants if they could.

And so that was part of her warning, but she was clever enough to use his language to say it. And then another thing that he'd been harping on for 10 years, as had lots of other males, which is no taxation without representation, that everybody deserves a vote. And of course, they meant all men deserve a vote. But she said, we women are really in a bad situation here because we don't have any representation in government.

That's another reason why you should pass this law for us, because we can't do it through our own representatives because we don't have any. But it was still a pretty outrageous demand, actually, for a woman in 1776 to suggest legislation to her husband. And she reinforced it in an interesting way because she said, if you don't do this, I have half of mine to foment a rebellion.

I've read that letter so many times and discussed it with other scholars and students and teachers. And I'm convinced that she was kidding. She wasn't talking about actually, you know, women taking out their pitchforks and torches and attacking men in a real rebellion that she was kind of kidding around.

But we all know about the joke that's not really a joke. I think it was a perfect rhetorical device to threaten a rebellion, but with a little bit of a nudge, a joking nudge. Well, I'm sorry to say that when John wrote back, joking was on his mind because he wrote back saying, this is an exact quote, I cannot but laugh at this proposition of yours, you know, that we need to be thinking about the women when we write new legislation. And he wrote a male friend of his saying, oh, oh, we may have really opened Pandora's box here.

That is by demanding independence from Britain, we men may have caused ourselves some real problems because women are going to demand independence from them and our servants and slaves may demand independence from them and our kids and apprentices may demand independence from us. And she was so mad when she got this letter back from him saying, I cannot but laugh at what you're suggesting here. She wrote a friend of hers, a female historian actually named Mercy Otis Warren.

She wrote Mercy saying, basically, I want to strangle the guy because he didn't take nothing seriously. And by the way, Congress wasn't really writing that kind of internal legislation dealing with things like spousal abuse. It was dealing with more international affairs. So that really would have been something to do with the state level.

But the point is, he not only didn't do anything, but he kind of answered it pretty contemptuously, which is really sad. But it opened up a conversation that continued where he would say things in letters to her that were sort of pro-American rights as against Britain. And she would write back saying, yes, I agree totally with that, but we got to think about women's rights in relation to men. And you've been listening to Professor Woody Holton tell the story of Abigail Adams. And it's true, the Declaration and the Constitution ushered in a human rights movement unknown before then. And it would include African Americans, women, and so many other folks to the modern world we have today. But without those words by Jefferson, well, who knows what would have happened.

When we come back, more of the story of Abigail Adams here on Our American Story. Did you know that NURTEC ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango? It's true. I had one that night and I took my NURTEC ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NURTEC ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully, NURTEC ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. This is DJ EFN. The Black Effect Podcast Network is sponsored by BetterHelp Online Therapy. Life can get overwhelming for all of us. For many people, it's not easy to open up to someone and discuss our vulnerabilities. But not long ago, I found myself in a place where I needed someone to talk to. I'm a relatively new father with two very young children in the home and although I always wanted kids, I waited because I was wanting to be as stable as possible in my life both mentally and financially.

What I learned is never the right time because life doesn't work that way and the pressure I felt and feel wanting to be the father I never had is a heavy weight at times to bear. Compound that with the career and lifestyle that goes with my career, I find myself in dual worlds that often don't mesh. Nothing comes easy and every day is a work in progress. But as long as you're working on yourself, you're moving in the right direction. BetterHelp is secure online therapy that offers video, phone, and even live chat sessions with a licensed professional therapist.

When you sign up, you can filter results by age, gender, cultural background, and expertise. BetterHelp strives to meet their clients where they need them. For those not ready for traditional therapy, there are support groups available to join for community.

Therapy can be done from anywhere and you can also switch therapists as much as you want. The Black Effect podcast network is sponsored by BetterHelp online therapy. Visit betterhelp.com slash black effect and join over 2 million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced BetterHelp therapist. Our listeners get 10% off their first month of online therapy at betterhelp.com slash black effect.

That's betterhelp.com slash black effect. Hi, I'm Jonathan Strickland, host of the Restless Ones. Join me as I sit down for in-depth discussions with the leaders at the intersection of technology and business. Leaders like Robert Morkos, founder of Social Mobile. Workforces are being mobilized now and it's clear that everyone needs a secure connected device. Whether a vaccine administration machine, remote patient monitoring where they set up your house, electronic visitor verification where someone comes to your home. A lot of it could have been driven by the pandemic and the necessity to build up this infrastructure, but I think it's just clear now that healthcare is mass adopting all types of enterprise mobility solutions as homes need to be turned into like hospitals now. The Restless Ones is now available on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you listen to podcasts. Presented by T-Mobile for Business.

5G that's ready right now. And we continue with our American stories. We've been diving into the story of First Lady Abigail Adams, the second First Lady. Professor Woody Holton of the University of South Carolina has been telling this story beautifully from his biography entitled Abigail Adams.

Go to amazon.com for the usual suspects to buy it. We left off after John Adams contemptuous reply to his wife's wish that in the founding fathers writing of the constitution they remember the ladies. But this opened up a door for Abigail to convince John that American rights were women's rights too. Back to Professor Holton. After that exchange in August of 1776, I should tell you, he's one of these guys, there's still a lot of them who are friends of mine, who's from New England and he thought New England is the hub of the universe. You still have people today who go, oh, the Ivy League schools are the only schools.

And he was like that. And he wrote her saying, you know, we've really got to support our New England schools because I'm down here in Philadelphia and they've got this thing that they didn't call the University of Pennsylvania yet, but they have their own college down here. And it's nowhere near as good as ours. And so he says, it's going to be up to New England to create the heroes and philosophers and statesmen. Those three, that's what the nation needs is heroes, philosophers, and statesmen.

And she wrote back saying, yeah, yeah, I think we've got the best colleges up here in New England too. But if you really want heroes, philosophers, and statesmen, you need educated women because the person who most decides whether a child is good enough to get into college and has the motivation to work hard to go off to one of these colleges and has the basic background, his mother. But she's saying, if you want males to be educated, you got to educate women too.

Not for their own sake. I think she wanted women to be educated. There's later evidence that she did.

She knew that wasn't going to work on him. But her argument was, even if all you care about is having educated men, you need to educate women because they're the moms who get the kids started in their education. There's a couple of examples. I could give you a bunch more, but they went back and forth on women's rights. Her always sort of making the point that women's rights are patriotic, that it's completely consistent. With him saying all men are created equal, she never used the phrase that you'd first see in the Seneca Falls Declaration in 1848, all men and women are created equal.

But that's basically the argument she kept making to him. Abigail actually said this in a letter that she wrote John in June 1782, they made huge sacrifices in the Revolutionary War. She actually argued greater sacrifices than the men because they gave up their loved ones, of course, at a much greater rate than men did. We can argue about who made a greater sacrifice, but it's certainly true that women made a huge sacrifice. We've already talked about, in her case, she was just so lonely when he was gone.

She just loved him that much. But also, I think there was really no one of his intellectual caliber. She did meet George Washington and lots of other luminaries while he was gone, but nobody that she could have the kind of hard-hitting discussion of literature, law and philosophy and so forth that she could.

She eventually became a great financial manager, but it was a huge hassle, especially just running the farm. But the greatest sacrifice of all was the dying. Now, no one in her immediate world died of being shot, and it's stunning to recall that the number of American soldiers who died on the battlefield was a little over 7,000 in seven years of war. That's fewer than died in three days at Gettysburg, but where the real dying was was from disease.

And that runs the numbers up to maybe 30,000 American men died during the war. So anyway, she lost, during the war, John's brother, who was a good friend of hers, as well. Very early in the war, there was a dysentery epidemic, but that same epidemic also spread to the civilian population. And worst of all, that October 1775 epidemic killed her mother because her kids had also gotten sick with dysentery. One of them nearly died, and her mother came over every day, as grandmothers will, to help take care of the kids.

Her mother picked up the dysentery and died. Abigail was just absolutely devastated, and she sought comfort in the Psalms and in Job. To the extent that Job offers any comfort, she got what she could. I will say, John really rose to the occasion and wrote her beautiful letters trying to console her. But how could he console her?

Because her mother, aside from John, was her best friend. And so we think about all the sacrifices that women made in terms of food shortages and the work they did sewing shirts for the soldiers. There was a lot of that. And a lot of women, I have a graduate student running a beautiful thesis about all the women who traveled with the army. And those women saved lives just by keeping the soldiers' shirts clean.

Because a dirty shirt is, of course, lice-ridden shirt, and lice give you typhus, and typhus kills you after George Washington ordered that the entire Continental Army be inoculated in those days against smallpox. And he saved thousands of lives. A lot of people think Washington won the war by immunizing his soldiers against smallpox.

But my point is two things. After smallpox was off the table for the soldiers, the biggest killer was typhus, and typhus comes from dirty shirts. And it's the women who washed the shirts, who reduced the threat of typhus. They could have used a lot more women. They could have saved a lot more lives if they had them. And yet, the women were not considered valuable enough to be inoculated against smallpox.

It's an expensive operation in those days. And so, many women did die of smallpox, and they didn't finally get mass inoculated until the end of the war. We have this estimate that about something like 30,000 soldiers died in that war, U.S. soldiers died, and they haven't even bothered.

No one has bothered to calculate the number of women who died of disease. One, I think if you asked her what was her single biggest sacrifice, and you don't have to ask her in private, because this is a private matter, but she'd say the thing that she suffered the most was not just that she had a child stillborn in 1777, but that her husband wasn't there to be with her for that. Even during the pregnancy, she wrote John saying, you know, even a lot of the brute creation, that is animals, have their mate with them during their pregnancy.

And I don't because you're off at Congress. And so, she was already feeling distressed to not have them there while she was pregnant. And then it was just even more so when the child died. And in fact, the saddest thing I think she ever did to herself was she believed that the stress and the agony that she was going through that painful last month of pregnancy without her husband present, and anxious last month because moms don't often die in pregnancy.

In the 18th century, they had midwives who knew well enough to just kind of let nature take its course. But moms didn't often die in childbirth, but the babies often did, so she was anxious that that was going to happen. And here's what she did to herself after this baby was born dead. She believed that she had killed the child through her anxiety. And we know it's not true. Someone else who examined the body saw that there was something about the child that clearly never had any chance of living, but she believed that she had done that herself. And what a sad, sad thought that she had. And you've been listening to Professor Woody Holton tell the story of Abigail Adams, her loneliness, her grief at not having a husband at her side and then losing a baby and blaming herself for the loss.

When we come back, more of this remarkable story of America's second first lady, Abigail Adams, here on Our American Stories. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 90210MG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by NerdTech ODT. We recorded it at iHeartRadio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75mg can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?

It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75mg. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully, NerdTech ODT Remedipant 75mg is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. This is DJ EFN. The Black Effect Podcast Network is sponsored by BetterHelp Online Therapy. Life can get overwhelming for all of us. For many people, it's not easy to open up to someone and discuss our vulnerabilities. But not long ago I found myself in a place where I needed someone to talk to. I'm a relatively new father with two very young children in the home and although I always wanted kids, I waited because I was wanting to be as stable as possible in my life both mentally and financially.

What I learned is never the right time because life doesn't work that way. And the pressure I felt and feel wanting to be the father I never had is a heavy weight at times to bear. Compound that with the career and lifestyle that goes with my career. I find myself in dual worlds that often don't mesh. Nothing comes easy and every day is a work in progress. But as long as you're working on yourself, you're moving in the right direction. BetterHelp is secure online therapy that offers video, phone, and even live chat sessions with a licensed professional therapist.

When you sign up, you can filter results by age, gender, cultural background, and expertise. BetterHelp strives to meet their clients where they need them. For those not ready for traditional therapy, there are support groups available to join for community.

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That's BetterHELP.com slash Black Effect. Hi, I'm Jonathan Strickland, host of The Restless Ones. Join me as I sit down for in-depth discussions with the leaders at the intersection of technology and business. Leaders like Robert Morkos, founder of Social Mobile. Workforces are being mobilized now and it's clear that everyone needs a secure connected device, whether a vaccine administration machine, remote patient monitoring where they set up your house, electronic visitor verification where someone comes to your home. A lot of it could have been driven by the pandemic and the necessity to build up this infrastructure, but I think it's just clear now that healthcare is mass adopting all types of enterprise mobility solutions as homes need to be turned into hospitals now. The Restless Ones is now available on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you listen to podcasts. Presented by T-Mobile for Business.

5G that's ready right now. And we return to our American stories and to the story of Abigail Adams as told by Professor Woody Holton. We left off with him telling us of the great sacrifices that the women of the revolution made and one of the greatest tragedies from the war was Abigail delivering a stillborn baby without the support of her husband John. Back to Professor Holton and what Abigail Adams was like as a mother. One of my favorite things working on my book about Abigail was writing about her as a mother because I found myself quite ambivalent about would I want her as my mom. I still have my own mother and I don't think I would trade her for Abigail because she was a terrific mom in some ways and not so terrific in others. She only had one daughter who lived to adulthood her daughter Nabby they were very close but I have a couple grievances about her raising of Nabby.

There's no evidence of her ever trying we don't have a ton of letters between them but we do have letters they were part enough that we have letters that she ever tried to instill any of her I call it proto-feminism we don't want to use the word proto-feminism she never asked for women to get the right to vote for instance so you can't really call her a feminist you don't even want you're not even but you know that's not that's asking too much for her to be living in the 19th century she lived in the 18th century for most of her life anyway so call her a proto-feminist but she never really sort of passed that on to her daughter she passed it on to a lot of her nieces but never to her own daughter and I think it's because she saw her daughter is not that strong you know that she'll do fine if she can just find herself a man and settle down and get to work from doing all the things that wives do didn't seem to see as much potential in her daughter as her mother had obviously seen in her I'll say one other thing back with John Quincy was he was 10 and he went over to join John came back for a very brief time from from France and so father and son sailed back together in 1780 and Abigail wrote John Quincy before she'd gotten word that they'd safely arrived in Europe arrived in Europe so they're crossing the ocean middle of a war she writes him saying I want you to be a good boy and then she said and I'd rather that ship that you traveled on sank in the ocean than that you should be a graceless child and I just think that's such a cruel it's cruel thing to write to your 10 year old when you don't know whether his ship has sunk or not so she could be she could be a little tough that's partly 18th century child raising I guess let me tell you something that makes me really like John Adams there's lots of reasons to not like him his fondness for monarchy would be would be at the top of the list and he was a pretty arrogant guy but I mentioned that Abigail started around 1781 setting aside some of the family fortune and and just thinking of it as her own when she got sick thought she was dying and wrote her will she wasn't supposed to write a will because her husband was still alive she did it anyway and then left that in her papers when she died two years later and John would have been perfectly within his rights under the common law prevailing at the time in taking that will that she wrote and just throwing it in the fire because it had no legal standing but what he actually did was carry out her will to the letter and by doing that he made it his actions and that made it legal the people that she wanted to give property to got the property and they got clear title to the property because John had basically endorsed it by going along with it and I think man what a long road he had traveled from contemptuously laughing off her claim her her desire remember the ladies in 1776 to 42 years later in 1818 finding her will and carrying it out and then that raises the question of well who did she leave all this money to she had bank stock canal stock all the all this other you know very valuable property so who'd she give it to by 1860 when she wrote that will one of her sons was dead but she had these other two who were not in great financial shape but she had nephews who were even in worse financial shape the dead son had left a bunch of left left her a bunch of male grandchildren who were in really bad financial straits she that is she knew a lot of guys who really needed money and she left them all nothing in her will every single thing she left to women she left it to her nieces and her female grandchildren and to her female servants so partly that you could call that a feminist act but recognizing that women are more financially dependent infinitely more financially dependent than men and wanting to make give them some shot at some kind of economic independence not many women had as much education as she did and not many women were as bold as her I never really solved that mystery of what made her so much bolder than others I did find and so I would really say self-confident as well but a couple sources of this are it just it makes you more confident every time I read another book I am a little more proud of myself and I think most people are that way and she she was well read and that just gives you a certain amount of self-confidence so so I think part of her confidence came from being well read and I do also think there's something about pks preachers kids where you're just sort of used to being sitting in the front of the church and being leaders I have a friend who's a baptist minister and his kids are always the ones if no one else will sign up for the Christmas play you know his kids have to do it and so they just get used to being in front of the congregation and it took her a while to have a legacy because so much of what she did necessarily she did in private she wrote these wonderful letters to her nieces and later to her granddaughters inspiring them to to get an education and specifically and encouraging them to to learn science and math and she did push women to do that so she'd done all this but she'd done it quietly in private letters now after she died her grandson Charles Francis Adams who would later have his father's and his grandfather's job that is American ambassador to England but Charles Francis Adams published a bunch of his mother's and father's letters but they were specifically focused on on her the intimate letters of Abigail and John Adams and yet what today by far has become her most famous letter the remember the lady's letter was not in there and I think he was just trying to be you know serve us comfortable service cafeteria food that is being non-controversial just nice letters where she's supporting her husband you know stand by your man kind of letters and not the cheeky ones where she's saying you know that's an imperative verb remember the ladies or if you want to have educated men you're going to have to have educated mothers which means educating girls he had taken out all the all what I would call all the good stuff and so it's really late in the 19th century that people women's rights advocates rediscovered her and those other letters of her started to be published and and I think she is a terrific icon from the revolution you know we know now that there were hundreds of documentable women heroes in the revolution but in those days they tended to look at the first ladies and Martha Washington was cool but she burned all of her and George's letters I think only two of them which are kind of perfunctory survive so we don't have a lot of documentation about Martha Washington Martha Jefferson is out of the picture very early on and we those letters were I think I think Jefferson burned those letters there was a lot of burning of letters in those days you didn't need a paper shredder like we have the reason all these Adams letters survived was that the Adams family remained wealthy all through the 19th and end of the 20th century until the 1930s when they finally gave their house to the national the federal government which owns it and runs it wonderfully now that's a tribute to her too because the main reason that that family stayed wealthy John was a great politician but he was just not interested in making money and she was and and so the biggest indicator that your family papers are going to survive are is if your family holds on to its house and they were partly just lucky that the house never burned down but it was also a matter of they kept that house all those years and that was that was a factor of their wealth and that was something that she had really played a crucial role in creating and a special thanks to Faith for the editing and to Robbie for the production and a special thanks to Professor Woody Holton and again his book is Abigail Adams go to Amazon and the usual suspects and pick it up and as always all of our history stories are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College where you can learn about American history and so much more go to Hillsdale.edu their courses are free they're terrific young and old alike will learn from their Constitution 101 class their economics 101 class and lately their Old Testament courses again go to Hillsdale.edu for terrific free online courses the story of Abigail Adams here on Our American Stories. 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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-06 23:04:23 / 2022-12-06 23:23:08 / 19

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