Friday, November 6, 2009

Abigail Adams

My fascination with Abigail Adams began in college. I was a history major, with a love for the time period of the American Revolution and a heavy interest in women’s history. I wanted to know how women lived out their lives in various phases of history—what they thought, how they acted, how the “big” events affected their daily lives. So I picked Abigail Adams as the subject of my senior history thesis.

Abigail Adams was one of those amazing women who left us great insight through her vast correspondence. She wrote not only her husband and other family members, but she also wrote to other amazing, thinking women, such as Mercy Otis Warren.

I spent one whole summer devouring Abigail’s letters. I’d already read several biographies and understood the basics of her life, but the woman herself came alive to me through her own words. And I began to notice something: some of her words seemed familiar. Very familiar. After many instances of deja vu and much searching, I discovered that Abigail often quoted scripture in her letters, sans book, chapter and verse. The words just flowed from her pen without such preambles as “you know, the Bible says . . .”

It struck me then that scripture was so ingrained in her thought processes that it found its way naturally into her conversation. Wow. I remember thinking I want to be like that, to have scripture spout into natural conversation—without effort, without a smug pride. Just the natural bent of my thoughts.

In those letters I met a strong, godly woman. A woman who didn’t complain (much) of her fate of raising her children mostly alone. A woman who loved her husband in spite of his single-minded devotion to his country. And, apparently, a woman who hid the Word of God in her heart. Who wouldn’t want to identify with such a woman? Who couldn’t find something to learn from her?
So today I give you Abigail Adams. A preacher’s daughter. A patriot’s wife. A president’s mother. And a woman who, from ages past, teaches us that the Lord will strengthen our hands for the tasks He calls us to do.


  1. I like what you said about scripture flowing naturally. I did a paper in grad school on all the scriptural parallels in Herland by Charlotte Gilman Perkins. The intersting part was that Perkins didn't claim to be a Christian, but she grew up in a family of ministers and it was just in there.

  2. That was great information. I never knew about the scripture part.

  3. This was a wonderful post. Thanks

  4. Magnificent post. Can you believe I just recorded a similar Charles Spurgeon thought in my journal?(tweaked slightly by YT)

    Who are the soulmates who benefit you? Never the ones who shout and scream their faith but, like the lilies, naturally perfume the air with the EXQUISITE fragrance of Christ so that you want to be near them and breathe in that rarified atmosphere. And isn't THAT the key, to let the Holy Spirit infuse us with Christ's attributes in an organic, developing way????

    Oops! Preaching to the choir.

  5. Oops doubled! What's the name of that book of letters?

    Sigh, after I get through Chambers' complete books, perhaps I'll have a couple of years left here to read those letters.

    Eyesight fading here in Normal,

  6. I've got to confess D'Ann that when you told me who you were going to write on, my heart sank. I hadn't told anyone yet, but didn't everyone already know that Abigail Adams was mine? Mine, mine, mine!

    It was all good though. I went with someone else, and I'm so glad you got Abigail. I'd never have been able to present this aspect of her character so eloquently. She is so fascinating though. Such a strong personality for a time when ladies were seen as little more than extensions of their husbands. And I love the relationship between her and John. They had their ups and downs, but they loved each other and they stuck by each other.

  7. Thanks D'Ann for an enlightening and thought provoking post.

  8. Hey y'all! Glad you are enjoying Abigail as much as I always have!

    Patti--there are four different ones I used in my research: The Adams Family Correspondence (4 vol), The Book of Abigail and John, The Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams, and New Letters of Abigail Adams. I do so love primary source research!!

    Lisa--so sorry I took your girl! I've been fascinated with her since I read the fictionalized version of Abigail and John in Those Who Love by Irving Stone so many, many years ago!

  9. Hi, D'Ann: I must confess I've always admired Abigail, but have never gotten so close to her as you have. You said she 'hid' the Word of God in her soul, yet it sounded as if she poured Him out on paper. Interesting.

    The info 'out there' is too extensive for each of us to learn it all. There are so many who are worthy of our remembering. I am glad we have this tremendous group of Inkies to broaden our horizons. (Cliche' Alert!)

  10. Great, D'Ann. I love how the scriptures were so much a part of her they just oozed out. That's the kind of person I'd like to be... so full of God, He just oozes out of every pore. I've got a long way to go!

  11. I have two John Adams mini series coming up very soon on my Netflix queue. You've increased my interest in an already fascinating couple.

    Hey, this theme is really a lot of fun. We're 'ahem' learning too!

    (Netflix is my 10.00/month entertainment budget. I even watched something contemporary this week, and got out of the 1800s for once. Looks like I'm going to the 1700s very soon.

    As you've all said so eloquently, what a blessing it would be to overflow with grace like that. I really think there was a lot more bible reading back then.
    Instead of like, reading blogs? yikes, did I say that?

    Thanks for a great post, D'Ann and for letting us know about the books of her letters.

  12. Thought-provoking post! She seems to have been a truly amazing person, saturated in Scripture and dedicated to others. I'm definitely going to have to learn more about her. Thanks, D'ann.

    Patti, I love that idea of being like lilies, perfuming the air with the fragrance of Jesus. Gorgeous.

    I'm learning so much with our theme! Thanks, everybody!

  13. Have a great weekend, everyone! I'm looking forward to the rest of our posts! Thanks, y'all for all your responses!

  14. Great post, D'Ann. Abigail has always been one of my heroes. I think I was in the third grade when I read a biography about her. The book was written to kids, of course, so it started with her childhood. I've always been fascinated by her and if I wrote non-fiction, she'd be one of the first ones I would write about.


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