American First Lady (1744-1818)

Abigail Adams quote

If we mean to have Heroes, Statesmen and Philosophers, we should have learned women.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Aug. 14, 1776


Tags: heroes, women

We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Oct. 16, 1774


Tags: words, action

A people may let a king fall, yet still remain a people, but if a king let his people slip from him, he is no longer a king.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, May 7, 1776


Tags: kings

Knowledge is a fine thing, and mother Eve thought so; but she smarted so severely for hers, that most of her daughters have been afraid of it since.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to Elizabeth Shaw, Mar. 20, 1791


Tags: knowledge, women

If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Thaxter, Sep. 29, 1778


I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And by the way, in the 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 particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Mar. 31, 1776


Tags: women, government

I am more and more convinced that Man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or a few is ever grasping, and like the grave cries give, give.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Nov. 27, 1775


Tags: men, power

I cannot say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives. But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken--and notwithstanding all your wise laws and maxims we have it in our power not only to free ourselves but to subdue our Masters, and without violence throw both your natural and legal authority at your feet.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, May 7, 1776


Tags: women, John Adams

A little of what you call frippery is very necessary towards looking like the rest of the world.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, May 1, 1780


Tags: John Adams

How difficult the task to quench the fire and the pride of private ambition, and to sacrifice ourselves and all our hopes and expectations to the public weal! How few have souls capable of so noble an undertaking! How often are the laurels worn by those who have had no share in earning them! But there is a future recompense of reward, to which the upright man looks, and which he will most assuredly obtain, provided he perseveres unto the end.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Jul. 10, 1775


Tags: pride, ambition

Merit, not title, gave a man preeminence in our country ... I did not doubt it was a mortifying circumstance to the British nobility to find themselves so often conquered by mechanics and mere husbandmen; but ... we esteemed it our glory to draw such characters not only into the field, but into the Senate.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter, Jul. 16, 1784


Tags: America

Arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, May 7, 1776


Tags: power, John Adams

These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by the scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Quincy Adams, Jan. 19, 1780


Tags: genius, John Quincy Adams

Luxury, that baneful poison, has unstrung and enfeebled her sons.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Feb. 13, 1779


Tags: wealth

I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. Every object is beautiful in motion; a ship under sail, trees gently agitated with the wind, and a fine woman dancing, are three instances in point. Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to Mary Smith Cranch, Jul. 15, 1784


Tags: action

Let your observations and comparisons produce in your mind an abhorrence of domination and power, the parent of slavery, ignorance, and barbarism, which places man upon a level with his fellow tenants of the woods.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Quincy Adams, Dec. 26, 1783


Tags: power, John Quincy Adams

I wish most sincerely there was not a slave in this province. It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me -- to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Sep. 24, 1774


Tags: slavery

The great fish swallow up the small; and he who is most strenuous for the rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of government.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Nov. 27, 1775


Tags: power, government

Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government from having held a place of eminence. Even in the freest countries our property is subject to the control and disposal of our partners, to whom the laws have given a sovereign authority. Deprived of a voice in legislation, obliged to submit to those laws which are imposed upon us, is it not sufficient to make us indifferent to the public welfare? Yet all history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Jun. 17, 1782


Tags: women, patriotism

What is meat for one is not for another--no accounting for fancy.

ABIGAIL ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Aug. 14, 1776


Tags: John Adams