Abigail Adams

Figure 2: Abigail Adams (First Ladies.org)

Abigail Adams watched as her husband and future second president of the United States, John Adams, participated in creating the new nation. She observed as they contemplated the best government in which to institute. Mrs. Adams believed that education enable women to become better mothers, unlike many women who simply accepted their positions as wives as mothers, She stressed the idea that women of her position would be able to contribute to the new nation. Mrs. Adams urged her husband to take the opportunity to include women in the Constitution and give them as much agency as men. Both she and her friend Mercy Otis Warren accepted their “virtues of delicacy and modesty” and “manag[ed] her absent husband’s affairs and rais[ed her] children” (Solomon, 7). However, they understood the possibilities education provided to women as citizens of the new United States of America.

“I most sincerely wish that some more liberal plan might be laid and executed for the Benefit of the rising Generation, and that our new constitution may be distinguished for Learning and Virtue. If we mean to have Heroes, Statesmen and Philosophers, we should have learned women. The world perhaps would laugh at me, and accuse me of vanity, But you I know have a mind too enlarged and liberal to disregard the Sentiment. If much depends as is allowed upon the early Education of youth and the first principals which are instilld take the deepest root, great benifit must arise from litirary accomplishments in women.” -Abigail Adams to her husband John Adams, 14 August 1776. (Founding Families)

Abigail Adams exemplified the qualities of republican motherhood in that she did not seek to quit the private sphere of domesticity and motherhood. She beseeched her husband for the inclusion of female citizenship and education for the betterment of the future generations. Although her beliefs included keeping women within the domestic sphere, her understanding of the capacities that which women possess provide hope for the future generations. Her contributions to the work towards education and politicizing original gender roles opened up attitudes of feminine capacity which would later positively affect women’s education.

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