John and Abigail Adams have always been one of my favorite first couples. They are an excellent example of a good marriage. Louise Young wrote that “Abigail Adams’ importance in the evolution of women’s roles rests, not on her views of women’s liberation, but on the model she furnished for a participant’s roles in a husband-wife political partnership.” (Young, Journal of Politics v. 38, Issue 3 (Aug 1976), pg. 304)
A great resource on John and Abigail is the electric archive of Adams Family Papers from the Massachusetts Historical Society. You can read (and see the original copy as well) of all their correspondence, John’s diary and autobiography. It is also fully searchable so you can look for certain words or terms. This is an invaluable research tool as well as being a lot of fun to browse through to learn more about John and Abigail. Both John and Abigail were eloquent writers who had a lot of important events to recount as well as the daily business of their lives.
I thought I would include on my favorite letters from Abigail to John from the website. I like it for what it says about Abigail Adams not because of the important matters discussed. With all their letters, make sure to consider what was going on in the US at the and where John Adams was when Abigail wrote the letter.
From the Adams Family Papers:
“June 23 1777
I have just retird to my Chamber, but an impulce seazes me to write you a few lines before I close my Eye's. Here I often come and sit myself down alone to think of my absent Friend, to ruminate over past scenes, to read over Letters, journals &c.
Tis a melancholy kind of pleasure I find in this amusement, whilst the weighty cares of state scarcly leave room for a tender recollection or sentiment to steal into the Bosome of my Friend.
In my last I expressd some fears least the Enemy should soon invade us here. My apprehensions are in a great measure abated by late accounts received from the General.
We have a very fine Season here, rather cold for a fortnight, but nothing like a drought. You would smile to see what a Farmer our Brother C--h [Cranch] makes, his whole attention is as much engaged in it, as it ever was in Spermacity Works, Watch Work, or Prophesies. You must know he has purchased, (in spight of the C--ls [Colonels] Threats) that Farm he talkd of. He gave a large price for it tis True, but tis a neat, profitable place, 300 sterling, but money is lookd upon of very little value, and you can scarcly purchase any article now but by Barter. You shall have wool for flax or flax for wool, you shall have veal,Beaf or pork for salt, for sugar, for Rum, &c. but mony we will not take, is the daily language. I will work for you for Corn, for flax or wool, but if I work for money you must give a cart load of it be sure.
What can be done, and which way shall we help ourselves? Every article and necessary of life is rising daily. Gold dear Gold would soon lessen the Evils. I was offerd an article the other day for two dollors in silver for which they askd me six in paper. I have no more to purchase with than if every dollor was a silver one. Every paper dollor cost a silver one, why then cannot it be eaquelly valuable? You will refer me to Lord Kames I know, [illegible] who solves the matter. I hope in favour you will not Emit any more paper, till what we have at least becomes more valuable.
Nothing remarkable has occurd since I wrote you last. You do not in your last Letters mention how you do -- I will hope better. I want a companion a Nights, many of them are wakefull and Lonesome, and "tierd Natures sweet restorer, Balmy Sleep," flies me. How hard it is to reconcile myself to six months longer absence! Do you feel it urksome? Do you sigh for Home? And would you willingly share with me what I have to pass through? Perhaps before this reaches you and meets with a Return, I wish the day passt, yet dread its arrival. -- Adieu most sincerely most affectionately Yours.”