John and Abigail Adams are what you might call America’s founding power couple. John steered Americans through the Revolution, helped write the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitution, and later served as President. Abigail worked to expand women’s education and, in a time when women were formally excluded from government and public affairs, served as one of her husband’s most trusted political advisors. The passage of time may have made this dynamic duo feel like dusty relics of the past, but they have much to teach us about power, politics, and the American Revolution—if only we’re willing to listen.
John and Abigail’s conversation-in-letters provides an intimate look at the everyday life of America’s first great political dynasty. Their correspondence will transport you back to the opening days of the American Revolution, when a short pamphlet entitled Common Sense lit the colonies on fire and brought an empire to its knees. British ships soon gathered in Boston harbor, their masts like a floating forest of trees. Deep booms of cannon fire could be heard reverberating through the air. With chaos surrounding them, the Adamses bantered and bickered about politics and family life, all the while trying to grasp what it all meant.
Read with Expert Guide, Jane Kamensky, as she reconstructs John and Abigail’s relationship and worldview, warts and all. Her commentary reveals how women experienced the Revolution, a crucial story that we’re quick to overlook in our race to read about the Founding Fathers. Abigail is often hailed as an early advocate for women’s rights. In this set of letters, she famously asked her husband to “remember the ladies” in the new nation’s code of laws. John laughed in her face. Kamensky’s commentary not only provides deeper context around this famous exchange but also asks us to reconsider the meaning of liberty and equality.