Wednesday, July 4, 2007

'Remember the Ladies'

As the United States celebrates the Declaration of Independence proclaimed 231 years ago, we pay homage to a Revolutionary woman, Abigail Adams (left). She managed the household in Braintree, Massachusetts, while her husband John, who would become the United States' 2d President, worked at politics and diplomacy; indeed, she accompanied him abroad to diplomatic posts in Paris and London. In 1825 she gave birth to their son, John Quincy, who would be the United States' 8th Secretary of State and 6th President.
Abigail is renowned for urging her husband, in a letter written March 31, 1776, just months before the Declaration, "Remember the Ladies":
...-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.
Adieu. I need not say how much I am Your ever faithfull Friend.
Alas, John replied as if she'd written in jest. It would require the work of generations before the equality Abigail Adams sought could be realized.

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