Early US Literature

Home » Reflective Essays » The Devotion in Abigail Adams’s Letters to John Adams

The Devotion in Abigail Adams’s Letters to John Adams


I wonder sometimes  to what extent does the wife of a politician support her husband? And what the role does she play in her husband’s life? One of the best examples I can relate to is the story of John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams whose influence is undoubtedly noted.

The second president of the United States, John Adams (1736-1826) and his wife, Abigail Adams (1744-1817) were at a distance for years at a time. Notwithstanding this separation, they wrote frequently to each other about a wide range of matters. What interested me was the language Abigail used in her letters, most evidently her devout words that were meant to inspire her husband during that period of apartness. Her letters were constructed very well lending themselves meritoriously to the understanding of Abigail’s influence on John’s life. Although they were physically apart, Abigail’s soul, as embodied in her letters, was present at all times.

When reading Abigail’s words, I can delve simply into her mind and see how ideas and thoughts are structured. She uses colorful and powerful language to carry her ideas very well. On a letter dated February 8, 1797, and to show her assistance, Abigail writes to her husband on the day the electoral ballots are opened and the president of the United States is declared. “My thoughts and my meditations are with you, though personally absent…my feelings are not those of pride or ostentation, upon the occasion,” Abigail endeavors to ascertain her sincere support to her husband in this new critical chapter of their lives (Adams 174).

In the same letter, Abigail composes this prelude:

The sun is dressed in brightest beams,

To give thy honors to the day

Abigail uses three aspects to show that she was at the verge of her intellectuality when writing this letter. She starts with astute words in a form of verse followed by religious content in a form of prayer and concludes with words of comfort and support. Abigail prays,“ And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant ruler over the people. Give unto him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go out and come in before this great people; that he may discern between good and bad”. Her choice of words in this prayer denotes for her affection and care toward her husband.

I can state unequivocally that in Abigail’s letters, I can find a sense of reassurance. Her familiar letters epitomize a surge; not only does she unreservedly enthuse her husband, but also she shows her will to accompany him in this journey. “I am ready and willing to follow my husband wherever he chooses,” writes Abigail, on a letter dated April 26,1797, to declare this commitment (Adams 176). Abigail knew that by being a First Lady, she would have now more responsibilities and social obligations. However, her love and dedication was astounding. By writing to him, Abigail helped John be his true companion on political matters, as Edith Gelles explores in her book, Abigail Adams: A Writing Life. John often sought devout words from his wife. He writes after the inauguration, “I never wanted your advice and assistance more in my life”(Akers 68). But I must say that John Adams was very fortunate to have a woman like Abigail in his life, to have such influence.

Work Cited

Adams, Abigail, John Adams, and Charles Francis Adams. Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams. Boston: C.C. Little and J. Brown, 1840. Print.

Akers, Charles W. Abigail Adams, an American Woman. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980.Print.

Gelles, Edith B. Abigail Adams: A Writing Life. New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: