Friday, July 3, 2009

I desire you would Remember the Ladies

While we once again celebrate the founding of our great nation, as Abigail Adams wrote in 1776, I desire you would remember the Ladies. By now everyone knows that our Founding Fathers were toiling away in Philadelphia in 1776, but what were our "Founding Mothers" doing? Let us take a moment to remember these brave and capable women who kept the farms and businesses running, the children clothed and fed, and, as you will read, were preparing for war while their men were in the throws of labor pains giving birth to a nation. Let me take you back to the Spring of 1776...

The following is a now famous letter written by Abigail Adams to John Adams in the Spring of 1776 while John was serving as a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress:

Braintree March 31, 1776

I wish you would ever write me a Letter half as long as I write you; and tell me if you may where your Fleet are gone? What sort of Defence Virginia can make against our common Enemy? Whether it is so situated as to make an able Defence? Are not the Gentery Lords and the common people vassals, are they not like the uncivilized Natives Brittain represents us to be? I hope their Riffel Men who have shewen themselves very savage and even Blood thirsty; are not a specimen of the Generality of the people.

I am willing to allow the Colony great merrit for having produced a Washington but they have been shamefully duped by a Dunmore.

I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for Liberty cannot be Eaquelly Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow Creatures of theirs. Of this I am certain that it is not founded upon that generous and christian principal of doing to others as we would that others should do unto us.

Do not you want to see Boston; I am fearfull of the small pox, or I should have been in before this time. I got Mr. Crane to go to our House and see what state it was in. I find it has been occupied by one of the Doctors of a Regiment, very dirty, but no other damage has been done to it. The few things which were left in it are all gone. Cranch [Crane?] has the key which he never deliverd up. I have wrote to him for it and am determined to get it cleand as soon as possible and shut it up. I look upon it a new acquisition of property, a property which one month ago I did not value at a single Shilling, and could with pleasure have seen it in flames.

The Town in General is left in a better state than we expected, more oweing to a percipitate flight than any Regard to the inhabitants, tho some individuals discoverd a sense of honour and justice and have left the rent of the Houses in which they were, for the owners and the furniture unhurt, or if damaged sufficent to make it good.

Others have committed abominable Ravages. The Mansion House of your President [John Hancock] is safe and the furniture unhurt whilst both the House and Furniture of the Solisiter General [Samuel Quincy] have fallen a prey to their own merciless party. Surely the very Fiends feel a Reverential awe for Virtue and patriotism, whilst they Detest the paricide and traitor.

I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land.

I feel a gaieti de Coar to which before I was a stranger. I think the Sun looks brighter, the Birds sing more melodiously, and Nature puts on a more chearfull countanance. We feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.

Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it.-I long to hear that you have declared an independancy-and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable 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 perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.
April 5

Not having an opportunity of sending this I shall add a few lines more; tho not with a heart so gay. I have been attending the sick chamber of our Neighbour Trot whose affliction I most sensibly feel but cannot discribe, striped of two lovely children in one week. Gorge the Eldest died on wednesday and Billy the youngest on fryday, with the Canker fever, a terible disorder so much like the thr[o]at distemper, that it differs but little from it. Betsy Cranch has been very bad, but upon the recovery. Becky Peck they do not expect will live out the day. Many grown person[s] are now sick with it, in this [street?] 5. It rages much in other Towns. The Mumps too are very frequent. Isaac is now confined with it. Our own little flock are yet well. My Heart trembles with anxiety for them. God preserve them.

I want to hear much oftener from you than I do. March 8 was the last date of any that I have yet had. - You inquire of whether I am making Salt peter. I have not yet attempted it, but after Soap making believe I shall make the experiment. I find as much as I can do to manufacture cloathing for my family which would else be Naked. I know of but one person in this part of the Town who has made any, that is Mr. Tertias Bass as he is calld who has got very near an hundred weight which has been found to be very good. I have heard of some others in the other parishes. Mr. Reed of Weymouth has been applied to, to go to Andover to the mills which are now at work, and has gone. I have lately seen a small Manuscrip de[s]cribing the proportions for the various sorts of powder, fit for cannon, small arms and pistols. If it would be of any Service your way I will get it transcribed and send it to you. - Every one of your Friend[s] send their Regards, and all the little ones. Your Brothers youngest child lies bad with convulsion fitts. Adieu. I need not say how much I am Your ever faithfull Friend.
To all the men and women who helped found this great nation, I give my humblest thank you. And to the men and women of this country today, I admonish you to remember where we come from and to be ever vigilant because, in the words of Abigail Adams, "...[we being] Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute."


CrispyRice said...

Nice post, Bev! Good stuff to remember at this holiday. I'll add my thanks (and my vigilance) to yours!

StanH said...

Great post Bev! Indeed a great letter from a great American patriot. To use a modern refrain “it was tough all over.”

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, thanks for the great post. I had honestly not read the letter before and I am glad to see it. What a brave, smart women!

If they had paid a little more attention to her desire to have true, broad-based equality into the law, our history might have been very different. Think about it -- no need for a civil war, no need for a sexual revolution.

We ignore good advice at our peril.

CrisD said...

Thanks, Bev!

And the rest of this patriot's letters can be read in the form of a book which moves you to laughter and tears.

If you like this article as much as I did, check into them!

Writer X said...

Love everything about her letter. It's so cool to live history through letters. It feels so much more real. And the very first line made me chuckle:

"I wish you would ever write me a letter half as long as I write you..."

Some things never change!

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, that's funny, I had the same thought.

You could almost see the kinds of letters he sent:

"Dearest Wife, All is fine. Ben Franklin drinks much and the horse is running well. Yours, John."

CrisD said...

Her sister was no slouch, either.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, I believe everything happens in its proper time. She just planted a seed and fortunately she put her thoughts in writing.

CrisD - You can also see the actually letters online through the Massachusetts Historical Society website

WriterX, Andrew and CrisD - LOL! I had the same thought! Typical - His were more like "Nobody likes me 'cause I'm so smart! Send more shirts."

Did you know that she wanted all of her correspondence destroyed on her death! Can you imagine if that had been honored?

Tennessee Jed said...

Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison are but two of my favorite historical figures. It never fails to amaze me how very right the founders of this country are. I do wish more folks would realize the right to vote works best with an informed and educated citizenry.

Happy Independence Day to the good people at Commenterama

patti said...

amen, and well done bev. a firecracker from the past!

Writer X said...

Andrew, too funny. You're mock letter is probably spot on. But then in his next letter he'd complain about not finding the time to buy a stamp. :-)

Unknown said...

Bev: Abigail would no doubt have made a better president than either of the Adams boys, but as everyone has said, those were different times. Abigail and John were like two sides of the same coin, and they were very much in love their entire married life. She alone could break that cold exterior of his, although even she was able to do it only occasionally.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Bev, for reminding us of the Ladies! Good post!
The contributions of the Ladies (such as Abigail) to the decisions our Founding Fathers made were invaluable, I think.

And I always knew "oftener" was a word. :^)

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