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Abigail Adams by Akers


Charles W. Akers in his book shows Abigail Adams as a woman who is more than simply the wife of a president. He shows us that she is a first lady and a prolific writer too. The author shows us that, unlike the other first-ladies; Abigail Adams was popular because of her work. Her popularity was therefore not because her husband was the president. Akers explains that Adams was an exceptional letter-writer and the scope, permanence, and literary qualities of her writings were unsurpassed by those of all women writers of her time. The works she did are amongst the most significant treasures in America. In one way or another they act as documented proof, of the revolutionary period. Akers further states that “supplementary to individual correspondences, the letters she wrote reflected a professional letter writing style, and its significance to the social environment at the time. Most of this work was on the confidential communication she had with the husband (president of the U.S. John Adams), this is in addition to their understanding on the Revolutionary War. Because of the mentioned qualities, her lifestyle as the wife of the president and writer interested Akers to write about her.

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In his book the author mainly focuses on the issues that propped up during the times of the revolution. Akers lays emphasis to significant matters on the American-revolution, and how Abigail Adams viewed the reasons and consequences of the revolution. Among the significant issues the author brought forth, were the significance of feminist empowerment, the function of giving women education, and the significance of identifying important women’s observations about the community (particularly in politics). In the book, the author explained that Adams “had been able to opine and discuss issues about the revolution because of having political access. For example, Adams, spoke of her sympathy for the American people who had been unduly burdened by the revolution” (Akers, 46). The author also pointed out that, Adams’ education-level and her interests in political-science, her inborn passion in letter-writing were all important in differentiating her with other revolutionary- women.

Before her husband became president, Abigail Adams endured several difficulties. John Adams’ (her husband) profession in law usually kept him away from the family for relatively long. Abigail Adams who had 5 children used to write numerous letters to him, the flamboyant and expressive letters was a clear display of the day to day lives of families in the period of the revolution, and colonial time. Abigail Adams letters were significant for the sole reason that she was a wife to the president.

Abigail Adams an American revolutionist is the story of this woman, told by Charles Akers through the vivid legacy of Abigail Adams’ letters. She was one of the first to speak up for women’s rights, frequently calling on her husband to “remember the ladies” when forming his policies as the president. Akers brings to life ways in which Adams resolutely fought from the shadows of her husband’s distinguished political career, at the same time developing one of the earliest voices of revolution among women (Lee, 23).

Presentation and strengths

The biography of Akers on Abigail Adams is one of the most significant books on American biography. The above mentioned fact is in itself a strength and proof that the book was presented in a good way. Its presentation is given in a succinct scholarly way on the historically significant Abigail Adams.

In his book, Akers centers on Adam’s position as a republican, a wife and a mother. The author also focuses on her responsibilities in managing the family-farm, and the attendances at important meetings in the absence of the president. Adams also played a major role in the continuous liberal movement from England, who also promoted edification within American women. Being a republican, Adams took her work seriously; she gave herself the responsibility of bringing up her children in a virtuous and cultured way. Being a wife again, “she constantly encouraged her emotionally sensitive husband and sacrificed long periods away from John, when he was called to duty to travel often hundreds, and sometimes thousands of miles away” (Lee, 23). These are some of the key strengths found in this book.

The authors work is done a very nice way, especially in the incorporation of Adam’s own wording in sessions of being alone and distress because she had to be a part of the president. “One feels an incredible amount of sympathy for Adams when she is forced to run the home and farm without her husband’s support, and also in her decision to inoculate herself and her young children with smallpox during an epidemic” (Lee, 18). The author also does a commendable job, for making a person reading understand how difficult the life of Colonial America was. This he focuses particularly on women where he mentions the hardships Adams encountered in her pregnancies, ailments while growing, and sometimes unavailability of appropriate medical-care that Adams often received.

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An important twist in the presentation of this book arises as a result of the characters that must be presented. “Obviously no work on Abigail could be devoid of the events of the Revolution and the infant years of the United States, of which her husband played such a large role” (Lee, 12). Because of this fact, this book is partly Adams, partly John, and partly talks about the new nation. As a result the author incorporates all these three characters into the book.

Strength is also found in the part where, the author highlights Adams beliefs on women’s education. The author highlights on Adams belief that women are supposed to be on the same educational level as men. This is particularly shown in her opinion that, “if it was the role of republican mothers to teach their children appropriately then the mothers had to be educated themselves” (Akers, 73). Being the first author to get hold of Adams papers, Akers provided an excellent biography that is scholarly.

Basing on American Women, the author vividly describes their lives in that particular era. Akers wrote a precise, and “judicious account of Adams’ life. He brings together the insights of many studies for her husband, her son, the American Revolution, and the role of women in early American History. He makes great evaluation of Abigail’s opinions as well” (Lee, 23). Therefore it is evident that this author had more strengths than weaknesses.


As much as the book looks well presented, it still has proof of some weaknesses. In this biography there is not much new information added on the research on Abigail Adams. There is again a doubt as to whether the book really brings out Adams writing talents clearly. As for the later, the author does not really focus on the explicit explanations of Adams writing skills, but he rather focuses on her way of life as a republican, wife, mother and the first lady. This is the major weakness in this biography. “As an addition to the Library of American-Biography, Akers had a lot freedom to delve into the life of Abigail. On the second issue of whether Akers’s own writing talents match Adams’s that may not be especially fair as well” (Lee, 23). According to available sources, the author’s vigor and brilliancy of Adams wording does not really bring out who Abigail Adams is.

The central themes and arguments

The central argument in the book revolves around the author’s explanation that, Adams was “the nation’s best informed woman on public affairs, while never overstepping the line nature had drawn between the sexes” (Lee, 12). This is the central theme in the book centered on Abigail Adams’ life. She again prejudiced her husband-president and the son 6th president of America Quincy.

This book is really convincing as it portrays what a woman in the Adams era was supposed to act in often tricky situations that affected women. The author again used a woman who was, literate, authoritative (being a first lady), acted as other women in the society while fighting for Americas self governance. Despite being an achiever on her own, Adams did not act as if she was influential, because she was always left to take care of domestic issues. She even went further to say, “my ambition will extend no further than Reigning in the Heart of my husband.” (Gelles, 69)

Being the first biographical author to access Adams papers, Akers has immense support on what he tries to put across. In his work, the author has enough proof and references of what he was saying. He went further to give specific examples in the works of Abigail Adams.

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The author’s motives

Charles W. Akers being a professor of history wrote a biography on Abigail Adams because she was responsible for formulating America’s rights (especial feminist rights); she was also responsible for making women in the American society embrace their rights since America was found on the principles of equality and independence. The writer wanted to bring all issues (political and social) that helped shape the present America to light so that everyone could get a chance of knowing how the country’s political scene has changed overtime.

In his book, the author mainly focused on the issues that came up during the revolution. Akers in his biography put emphasis to significant matters on the American-revolution, and how Adams viewed the reasons and consequences of the revolution. Akers really concentrated on the empowerment of women in the society in order to bring about equality. The author wanted to bring to light the functions of women in the society, the importance of giving women education, and the significance of identifying important women’s observations about the community (particularly in politics).

The author’s larger political and social agenda

Socially and politically, Akers in his book on Abigail Adams shows that Abigail shunned racial discrimination (she even let some of her African American works to get educated regardless of objections), abhorred the issue concerning slavery, “was responsible for the correspondence on the course of events that shaped America when it was politically divided, and she did not believe that female voting enfranchisement was possible” (Lee 23). Therefore the author shows us the main evils (especially the protection of women’s rights) that should be avoided in the present day society by using the concepts of Abigail Adams. In a synopsis she was advocating for feminist rights.

The larger social message

The larger social message in Akers book was that women were supposed to be empowered, and given equal powers and rights in the society. The author is also of the idea that, as much as women need to have equal rights and education, they are again supposed to bring up their children in a virtuous and cultured way. In a way, the author also despises social injustices which include racial discrimination.

Why he chose what he wrote

The writer chose to write about Abigail Adams not only to make available information about her influential character, and her responsibility in formulating America’s rights, but also because he wanted to expose the societal evils that are supposed to be rooted out.

The author and today’s political spectrum

This particular author might not certainly fit in the current political spectrum. This author wrote on a historical context and specifically during the colonial period. He was focusing on the lifestyles of that particular era based on Abigail Adams and the people around her, together with the revolution. Being a chronological biographer, it seems he cannot perfectly fit on the current political scene where there has been a total overhaul of character and happenings.

How individuals would vote in today’s elections

Abigail Adams was not of the idea of feminist vote enfranchisement. But in the current society, this practice is possible.


Consequently, Abigail Adams by Akers is an example of an outstanding chronological reference work, which can offer a basis for researching on life in revolutionary America as a whole. Abigail Adams by Akers offers a particular section of American living and specifically the upper classes, the white, Protestants, and feminine perspectives. In the first parts of this biography, Akers offers a comprehensive family setting of Abigail Adams. This is for the person reading to put her in the perspective of her community, her works and times amalgamated with her exceptional upbringing. The father of Abigail Adams (William Smith) was attached to ministering in a church found in rural Massachusetts. Regardless of his holiness, she turned down the evangelical inclination that swept across all colonies which was at the time referred to as the “Great Awakening”. Her father’s moderated opinions on religious convictions undeniably had an influence on the daughter, who during her times exhibited self control in her views on a lot of societal and political concerns. Even though Abigail Adams was a staunch revolutionist, greatly significant of the older European authorities and robustly favoring American self-governance, she was no extreme radical. For example, her feminist-brand encompassed high esteem towards traditional responsibilities of women as companions and mothers.

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More importantly Akers shows us that, despite her inborn literacy works, her opinions on the revolution were shown in the confidential correspondences with the then president and husband. Her views again, were not reflected as publications directed to the community but somewhat, as expressions of individual opinions communicated by any wife to the husband.

Works cited

Akers, Charles. Abigail Adams: A Revolutionary American. Boston: Longman Publishers, 2007. Print.

Gelles, Edith. First Thoughts: Life and Letters of Abigail Adams. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998. Print

Lee, Phyllis. Abigail Adams. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2002. Print.

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