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Abigail Adams 1744–1818 

  1. A little of what you call frippery is very necessary towards looking like the rest of the world.
    letter to John Adams, May 1, 1780
  2. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of pacific station that great characters are formed…. Great necessities call out great virtues.
    letter to John Quincy Adams, Jan. 19, 1780
  3. My heart is like a feather and my spirits are dancing.
    She was happy because she had just received a packet of letters—“a feast to me”—from her husband, John
    letter, April 1776
  4. I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and like the grave, cries, “Give, Give.”
    letter to John Adams, March 31, 1776
  5. In the new code of laws, which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could…. [We women] will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation…. Men of sense of all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex.
    Cf. Daniel Defoe: “Nature has left this tincture in the blood./That all men would be tyrants if they could, ” The History of the Kentish Petition, 1701
    letter to John Adams, March 31, 1776
  6. I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives.
    letter to John Adams, May 7, 1776
  7. I will never consent to have our sex considered an inferior point of light. Let each planet shine in their own orbit. God and nature designed it so—if man is Lord, woman is Lordess—that is what I contend for.
    letter to Eliza Peabody, her sister, July 19, 1779
  8. I regret the trifling, narrow, contracted education of the females of my own country.
    Earlier in the year, writing to John Thaxter on “the difference of education between the male and female sex,” Abigail asked, “Why should your sex wish for such a disparity in those whom they one day intend for companions and associates?” And she answered the question in part herself, “I cannot help sometimes suspecting that this neglect arises in some measure from an ungenerous jealousy of rivals near the throne” (Feb. 15, 1778)
    letter to John Adams, June 30, 1778