Boston Globe: New Abigail Adams Letter Found in Desk

A previously unknown letter written by Abigail Adams has been discovered in a desk and donated to a Massachusetts historical society.

Adams, wife of founding father John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams, was the first Second Lady and second First Lady in the United States. She is known to have written more than 2,000 letters during her life, many discussing politics and the American Revolution with her husband. She was known for views that were at the time considered radical, including some on women’s liberation. Nearly a century and a half before the women’s suffrage movement, Adams wrote:

“…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.”

The letter recently discovered was written in 1788 by Adams just before she left London after her husband’s ambassadorship to return home to Massachusetts, and was found among the papers of a recently deceased lawyer. The letter was sent to her uncle, Dr. Cotton Tufts (historical porn star name FTW), with whom she frequently corresponded.

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A gender studies professor commented to the Boston Globe about Adams’ letters in relation to women’s history:

“Any Abigail Adams letter is a treasure,’’ said Edith B. Gelles, a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She has studied the Adamses for nearly four decades.

Gelles called Abigail Adams’s letters “the best record we have’’ of women’s lives during the Revolutionary War period.

The most recent letter is said to be characteristic of Adams, and include some shrewd political analysis from the former First Lady- as well as a “lament” that European leaders did not take the newly formed America seriously yet.