President’s Day: A Look at the Women Behind Our Leaders
With President’s Day almost here, we honor not only the presidents past, but also the strong and proud women who stood behind them, and many times pushed them towards excellence. In reading about many of the first ladies, I was struck by Abigail Adams (1744-1818), who despite a formal education, ran the family farm, purchased land, dealt with tenants, and engaged in other business enterprises, all while her husband was away from home for extended periods with wartime duties. Like many inspiring women, she fulfilled various roles as wife, mother, business owner, and writer.
An avid reader, Abigail educated herself on literature, history, politics, and French. In a time when few women were published authors, Abigail enjoyed writing letters to communicate with her husband, friends, and family. She found her voice in these letters by expressing her opinions on local events, current politics, and her views as a wife, mother, and woman in general. Her letters gave her freedom to express ideas, such as the fight for women’s rights in an era 150 years BEFORE women were allowed to vote.
“I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."(History.com)
With over 1000 saved letters between Abigail and John Adams, we are given a rare glimpse into the social, familial, and political life of that time period, especially from a woman’s point of view.
Now, approximately 200 years later, I look at her passion for learning, reading, and writing, and am reminded of myself, and all the other strong women who take to writing as a form of expression. Our pens may be replaced with keyboards, touchscreens, iPhones, or other recording devices, but the passion remains to find freedom in our words.
And I’m pretty sure that if Abigail Adams were alive today, she would have a pretty popular blog!
You can read more about the First Ladies and how they helped shape America at History.com.