chapter  2
10 Pages

Abigail Smith Adams

Abigail Adams was the first First Lady to take an active interest in politics before, during, and after her husband's term of office. And she was nothing if not opinionated. In later years she recalled that her father regarded her as a "sausy" child. Today she is perhaps best remembered for her famous letter to her husband, written in 177 6, on the eve of the Declaration ofIndependence, in which she admonished John Adams to "remember the ladies" in setting up the new republic. Yet both the context of the letter and the course of her life indicate that she accepted the domestic role women of her time were expected to play, and she played it exceedingly well. Within that role, however, she chafed at the denial of opportunity for women to grow intellectually, to travel independently, and to share in the exciting public events of the time. She managed to overcome many of these restrictions herself, and thus played a significant role in the history of American feminism as well as in that of America's First Ladies.