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Critical Readings on Abigail Adams’s Political Observations


This annotation exposes critical readings on Abigail Adams. It mainly presents views on the life of Abigail Adams as she witnessed major events such as the American Revolution and the Independence.

Bobbe, Dorothie De Bear. Abigail Adams, the Second First Lady. New York: Minton, Balch &, 1929. Print.

Dorothie De Bear Bobbe’s Abigail Adams, the Second First Lady invites the readers to a beautiful journey of the life of Abigail Adams. Bobbe examines substantially Abigail’s character, emotional state, and her relationship with her children who gave her hope and reassurance when her husband was away. Bobbe gives a vivid description of Abigail’s family life. Abigail Adams also tackles one critical period of Abigail’s life when she suffered both physically and mentally from a painful fever. The American Revolutionary War, as experienced by Abigail, is investigated in this book. During this period, Abigail’s letters to John, as Bobbe argues, show “her depth of feeling and her capacity for the most intense emotion”(85). The book advances as it exposes more of Abigail’s life from her role as the First Lady to her support to her husband to the increase of her personal popularity.

The book is split into 59 short chapters. The vast majority of these chapters are titled with only one word that refers to a particular event in Abigail’s life. A manuscript of one of Abigail’s letters is supplied at the beginning of the book. Also, the book has several illustrations. Bibliography and index are provided. Abigail Adams is a solid biographical narrative.

Criss, Mildred. Abigail Adams: Leading Lady. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1952. Print.

In Abigail Adams: Leading Lady, Criss attempts to explore the life of Abigail Adams from a more or less fictional view. From the beginning, Criss sheds light on Abigail’s devotion to her husband, John Adams. Criss talks about how Abigail and John met each other and got united to be “partners for life”. The relationship between Abigail and her mother is fully examined in this book. But more importantly, Criss scrutinizes the influence of Abigail on John’s political life, particularly during The American Revolutionary War. “Romance” is a chapter given in the book to discuss a difficult period in their life, the apartness. The book proceeds to expose Abigail’s life, as she becomes the First Lady. Then, it talks about the final years in her life.

The book is broken into 10 chapters, which are given specific themes associated with events from Abigail’s life. The book includes a wide range of pictures and portraits of Abigail, John, and other people and also of places and events that were of importance in their life. The most beautiful part in the book is its style; it takes the form of a fictional story, which is beautifully written. Notes and bibliography are also provided.

Ellis, Joseph J. First Family: Abigail and John. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. Print.

In First Family: Abigail and John, Ellis investigates the relationship between Abigail and her husband, John. First Family does not cover the whole range of Abigail’s life, but rather, from the time Abigail and John met in 1759. Ellis attempts to examine deliberately the character of Abigail’s letters exposing her emotional state as she witnessed major events in her life such as the War. The influence of Abigail on John’s political career is explored in depth especially at the time when John was working on the Declaration of Independence. Ellis studies Abigail’s insightful political observations and views. For example, Ellis writes, “Abigail was an enthusiastic advocate for the four pieces of legislation pushed through Congress by the ultra-federalist in…1798”(188). Furthermore, First Family discusses Abigail’s feelings during her and her husband apartness. Ellis states, “ For more than twenty years Abigail had been urging her husband to retire from public life and join her…at Quincy” (214).

First Family is split into seven well-elaborated chapters. Although Ellis examines the Adams family as a whole, he delivers a good account, in particular, of Abigail’s influence on John’s career. Not only does Ellis discuss Abigail’s support and advice, but also notes their disagreement on various political matters.

Whitney, Janet. Abigail Adams. Boston: Little, Brown, 1947. Print.

Abigail Adams introduces a seamless examination of the American Revolution through the eyes of Abigail Adams. Whitney surveys major events that happened during Abigail’s life. For instance, the Battle of Bunker Hill, an important battle in the war, is examined thoroughly. Abigail’s life at the time where she and John were separated is explored with much emphasis on her state of emotions. Examples are drawn from her letters. Notwithstanding this separation, Whitney believes that Abigail showed much support and devotion to her husband. “I would not only have submitted to the absence I’ve already endured, but would if necessary, endure three years more,” (165) says Abigail after she was asked whether or not she was consented to let John leave. As Abigail Adams furthers, Abigail’s life is presented in depth. Whitney provides an exploration of her journey in Europe before she goes back to New York, and then to Philadelphia where she spent her last winter.

The book has four illustrations of Abigail, John Quincy Adams, Mount Wollaston, and the Adamses’ birthplaces. Abigail’s family tree is shown at the beginning of the book. Maps of the eastern part and western part of Massachusetts Bay are included. The book does provide a well written historic account as witnessed by Abigail.

Withey, Lynne. Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams. New York: Free, 1981. Print.

Withey’s Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams discusses major issues in Abigail’s life such as  women’s rights and political affairs involved with her husband.  Withey states that Abigail thought, “women were the intellectual equals of men and had a right to an education” (xi). Dearest Friend also explores how Abigail and John met and advances as it presents Abigail, the wife and mother. Abigail’s influence on John’s political life is noted; needless to say, her interest in the position of women in American society is examined. The American Revolution and the Independence from Abigail’s perspective are tackled expansively in this book. Withey investigates, as most writers have done, the separation of Abigail and John examining also her life in Europe. Dearest Friend goes on as it portrays Abigail’s life as the Vice President’s Lady and then as the First Lady. The book concludes by depicting the last years of her life.

Dearest Friend consists of 18 chapters supplemented by an epilogue and sources for the quotations mentioned in the book. The epilogue talks about the impact of Abigail’s death on John’s life. A wide range of pictures of people and places associated with Abigail’s life are also provided in the book.


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