Abigail Adams: Her Contributions
Though quiet, sickly, and shy, Abigail Adams, the wife of second president John Adams, helped plant the seeds that eventually led to the concept of women¹s rights and women¹s equality with men. For a country which had been founded on the idea of independence for all, these concepts were still considered radical and even ridiculous.
Abigail believed that a good education was just as necessary for girls as for boys. This was a departure from the prevailing feeling of teaching girls only the skills necessary for keeping a household running smoothly. She had a passion for reading history, theology, and political theory which she passed on to her children. For Abigail to have taken such a strong interest in her education was a brave stance for her time. Education was often viewed as a corrupting influence on a woman. She requested her husband John, who was a delegate to Congress and later a U.S. president, to draft into law a commitment to supporting education for women. John was in full agreement with Abigail¹s views on this subject.
Abigail made her strongest appeal for women¹s rights in 1776, when John was in Philadelphia serving in Congress. As members drafted laws to guarantee the independence for which the colonist were fighting, Abigail wrote to John begging him to remember that women also needed to be given the right of independence. She sensed the struggles that were to come and understood the unfairness of making one group subject to the will of another.
She supported her husband through every phase of his rise to power and fame. His dependency and reliance on her as his partner was apparent. He considered her advice and assistance as critical to his success as a president. Ultimately, Abigail brought about no immediate changes in the way women were treated. However, it would not be long before others followed her lead.
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