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Book Buddy ! > Abigail and John - April 2013

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 15, 2013 10:50AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments April 2013 Book Buddy Read-

All are welcome to join in !

Book: Abigail and John Portrait of a Marriage by Edith B. Gelles Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage

Author: Edith B. Gelles
Author Bio
Edith B. Gelles, Ph.D., holds degrees from Cornell, Yale, and the University of California-Irvine. She has taught at several universities and is a Senior Scholar at Stanford's Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research. She lives in Palo Alto, California

When: Discussion will begin on April 1. We will start reading the book on that date and discuss it for a few weeks.

Where: The discussion takes place in this thread.

Spoiler Etiquette: Please put page and or chapter # at top of your post to avoid spoilers.

Book details:
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (April 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061354120

Book description:
Release date: April 13, 2010
Married in 1764, Abigail and John Adams worked side by side for a decade, raising a family while John became one of the most prosperous, respected lawyers in Massachusetts. When his duties as a statesman and diplomat during the Revolutionary War expanded, Abigail and John endured lengthy separations. But their loyalty and love remained strong, as their passionate, forthright letters attest. It's in this correspondence that Abigail comes into her own as an independent woman. It's also in these exchanges that we learn about the familial tragedies that tested them: the early deaths of their son Charles from alcoholism and their daughter Nabby from breast cancer.

As much a romance as it is a lively chapter in early American history, Abigail and John is an inspirational portrait of a couple who endured the turmoil and trials of a revolution, and in so doing paved the way for the birth of a nation.


message 2: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Discussion Questions

1. What did John Adams mean when he referred to his and Abigail's attraction to one another as "the Steel and the Magnet"? Who was the steel...and who the magnet?

2. How does one explain this remarkable 54-year-marriage between two strong and independent personalities? To what do you attribute it? What gave it the relationship strength? Was their marriage unique—was it typical of the 18th century? Is it unique by today's standards?

3. What were some of the worst hardships the couple endured? How, dear readers, would any of us have withstood those difficulties?

3. What can you discern of each personality through their letters? How would you describe Abigail...and how would you describe John? Have you learned anything new about either of them? What surprised you the most...or increased your admiration for them...or disappointed you?

4. Gelles says that both partners bought into "the family myth." What does she mean by that...what was the myth, and how did it work (according to the author) to keep them together? In fact, was it a myth—or was it as much truth as fiction?

5. Talk about the affect of the Alien and Sedition Acts on John Adams's reputation...and on the country. How influential was Abigail in their passage? What was her attitude toward them?

6. Discuss Abigail's relationships/friendships with others: Mercy Otis Warren, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and his daughter Patsy? What was Abigail's relationship with James Lovell? Why did she refer to him as "a dangerous man"?

7. What is Gelles' theory for why Adams picked up his pen (quill) and wrote to Jefferson—thus resuming their friendship after a bitter, protracted dispute?

8. Was Abigail a proto-feminist? (There is disagreement on the answer to this question. What do you think?)

9. Select one of your favorite letters, by either John or Abigail, and read it out loud. Why does it stand out to you?

10. How did Abigail define the role of First Lady? Is her version of First Lady relevant today—or has it changed?

11. As First Lady, how influential was Abigail in developing national policy?

12. Talk about the Adams's long separation when John was in Paris. How difficult would it have been to maintain their marriage over time and distance—without the ease of modern communications?!

13. Talk about John and Abigail as parents...and their relationships with their children.

14. What other works have you read about the Adamses? How does this compare with them?

15. Have you watched John Adams, the 2008 miniseries with Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney? You might consider playing segments of it during your meeting...and comparing film and book. (The series was based on David McCullough's 2001 biography, John Adams.)

** source - http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guid...


message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Looking forward to this!


message 4: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Hi, Carol. I'm starting to read and enjoying it. I'll start posting a bit on Monday. I know I read slower than you do, so you will have to put up with me. :)

I hope others are joining us !


message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I think you will be ahead of me, I'm a little "under the weather," (holidays tend to take a lot out of me.) Plus the book hasn't arrived at the library yet, but it is on its way.


message 6: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 01, 2013 08:58PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments No hurry, Carol. I hope you are feeling better real soon.

I'm not a fast reader and I also am taking my time with this book. I've only read I think 3 chapters. I didn't have time to read today.


message 7: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 03, 2013 03:31PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments I thought I would post some basics. I've long forgotten a lot and need a refresher.


The Adams men.

~~John Adams - October 30, 1735-July 4, 1826

John Adams was the second president of the United States, having earlier served as the first vice president of the United States

~~John Quincy Adams - July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848

was the sixth President of the United States. He served as American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. Son of John Adams.


~~Samuel Adams
- September 27, 1722 - October 2, 1803

was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a second cousin to President John Adams.

~~Henry Adams - February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918

Henry Brooks Adams was an American journalist, historian, academic and novelist. He was the grandson and great-grandson of John Quincy Adams and John Adams, respectively. He is best known for his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams


message 8: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments I am reading the hardcover edition, Carol. Please let me know, when you get the book, if that is what you are reading. I ask because I am going to use page #.

Page 3
I thought this quote most interesting. It seems that falling into moral turpitude was a concern of the Adams. It is mentioned again a few chapters later when Abagail talks of the children's schooling. And John stresses the importance of moral character.

"The goal of perfect character determined life's purpose."
-Reverend Smith- Abagail's father.


message 9: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 03, 2013 03:55PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Page 4
A second attempt at settlement, also a commercial venture, included women and children and succeeded temporarily. Renamed Weymouth after the village in England, where most of the immigrants originated, the village had as many as 300 inhabitants by the time the Puritans arrived at Boston in 1630. But their situation now became precarious; their little colony was nestled between two settlement of a very different nature, Plymouth with its Pilgrim zealots and Boston with its Puritan zealots."

This quote made me think of the differences between the pilgrims and the puritans. Something I never really thought about before.

Pilgrims vs. Puritans

Puritans did not want to separate from the Church of England. They wanted to "purify" it of practices they considered too Catholic. - Boston

Pilgrims were also called Separatists. They wanted to break with the Church of England. - Plymouth.

It also made me think of the book

The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop~Edmund S. Morgan
Synopsis:
Caught between the ideals of God’s Law and the practical needs of the people, John Winthrop walked a line few could tread.

In every aspect of our society today we see the workings of the tension between individual freedom and the demands of authority. Here is the story of the people that brought this idea to our shores: the Puritans. Edmund Morgan relates the hardships and triumphs of the Puritan movement through this vivid account of its most influential leader, John Winthrop.
Pages 210

It's a book I acquired in school and some point and never read. :-O
I still have it and have it on my To Read list. Better late than never !


message 10: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 03, 2013 07:39PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Timeline and links of some events leading up to war.


Sugar tax- 1764 - various taxes including molasses. Hence the name. repealed 1776
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Act

Tea tax- 1773
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Act

Stamp Act- 1765
Revenue law by British Parliament- Repealed 1766
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stamp_Ac...

Townshend Act- 1776-
Revenue act passed by English Parliament to replace the repealed Stamp act. They place duties on various items imported into the American colonies. Boston massacre & Boston Tea party resulted.
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Townshen...

Boston Massacre- March 5, 1770
5 killed
Incident prior to the American Rev. in which 5 members of a rioting crowd were killed by British soldiers who were sent to Boston to maintain order and enforce the Townshend Act.

John Adams defended Captain Preston who was said to have given the "fire" order. Preston was exonerated. Adams risked professional career to defend an unpopular cause.
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_M...

Boston Tea Party- December 1773 Protest against the British tea tax retained after the repeal of the Townshend Act. Angry colonists disguised as Native Americans boarded 3 ships and threw tea into the Boston harbor.
wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_T...

Coercive Acts or Intolerable Acts
a series of punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 relating to Massachusetts after the Boston Tea party.
Wiki -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intolera...


message 11: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 03, 2013 07:47PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments page 40

The book that Abigail was reading. (I think this is the book - there seem to be 6 volumes).

The Ancient History of the Egyptians Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians, and Grecians. by Mr. Rollin, ... Transla by Charles Rollin The Ancient History of the Egyptians: Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians, and Grecians. by Mr. Rollin, ... Transla

It's free if you have a Kindle or Kindle app.


message 12: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 03, 2013 08:05PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments A few more bios of the players

Robert Treat Paine -


(March 11, 1731 – May 11, 1814) was a Massachusetts lawyer and politician, best known as a signer of the Declaration of Independence as a representative of Massachusetts.
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_T...

Thomas Cushing -1725-1788

Thomas Cushing III was an American lawyer, merchant, and statesman from Boston, Massachusetts. Active in Boston politics, he represented the city in the provincial assembly from 1761 to its dissolution
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_C...

John Hancock- 1737 - 1793

merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" became, in the United States, a synonym for signature.
Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Han...


message 13: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Chapter 3 page 50

This section made be really realize how amazing Abigail was.
JA was gone for months on end leaving Abigail alone to mange a house, farm, kids, safety from war battles right near her home. Not too mention being a homemaker in that era was no small task.


message 14: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Painting mentioned on page 56 -

The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull




message 15: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Chapter 3

I love this quote by John Adams

"Liberty once lost is lost forever."


message 16: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 03, 2013 08:20PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments chapter 3

How horrible to read about all the people dying from dysentery. Abigail's letters are heartbreaking. She has to deal with this all alone as John remains away.

Here is the history of dysentery.

1770s


Dysentery was also known as "campaign fever" because of the often poor sanitary levels present in armies living in the field. General George Washington's army had to deal with several bouts of dysentery, as did the French army a few years later. British military officials, partly to instill a sense of order among soldiers and partly for sanitary reasons, began ordering camps dig lavatories every few days. This led to a decrease in dysentery in British army camps in the late 18th century.

For full history-
http://www.ehow.com/about_5522400_his...


message 17: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Chapter 3 page 50

This section made be really realize how amazing Abigail was.
JA was gone for months on end leaving Abigail alone to mange a house, farm, kids, safety from war battles right near ..."


She truly was an amazing woman! In 1764 Abigail also decided that she and the children would all be vaccinated for small pox by the local doctor. In their day the treatment was to sever a bit of skin, inserting some of the pus from the pox, and tying a bandage around it. This was not always the safest thing to do, but it was safer than not being immune and living with close to 300 who all had the disease. This went well for all, except her oldest daughter Nabby, who came down with the disease so badly that they wondered if she would survive. This disease caused large pus-filled boils all over her body, and gave her a very high fever, which left her shivering in bed night and day. In spite of how badly she contracted the disease, she healed up perfectly, but not without scars from the pox.


message 18: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Carol, reading books from this era where the specter of disease overshadowed everything is heartbreaking. From small pox, dysentery etc. make me so very glad that I live in this age of vaccines and antibiotics.

I didn't know that was how they treated small pox in that era. A bit ahead of their time. Heck, we can't even get many to give vaccinations now.


message 19: by Carol (last edited Apr 03, 2013 09:33PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Painting mentioned on page 56 -
The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull


I know this painting well. It is at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT where for many years I was a docent.

John Trumbull was the first American painter to produce a series of history paintings that depicted scenes of the Revolutionary War. (Did you know that he was blind in one eye due to a childhood accident?) In the painting below, Trumbull painted 42 portraits of the 56 signers of the Declaration.


John Trumbull (1756-1843); The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776; 1832; Oil on canvas; Purchased by Daniel Wadsworth and members of the Atheneum Committee.

John Trumbull painted his eight well-known canvases of scenes of the American Revolution between 1786 and 1831. However, in 1817 the United States Congress commissioned Trumbull to reproduce four of the paintings in life-size, which he did, with some regret that he was not asked to do the full series. (Those 4 paintings now hang in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.) In 1831 Trumbull's hopes for creating a complete series in monumental size were revived with the artist's proposal to establish a Trumbull Gallery at Yale University. Daniel Wadsworth offered to donate the property and funding for a second Trumbull Gallery to be built in Hartford. However, Trumbull and Wadsworth could not compromise on which gallery would house the original 8 history paintings, and consequently the Hartford gallery was not built.

Trumbull kept on with the project and finished the five existing paintings in the series by 1834. All appear in this gallery. He exhibited the group at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York in 1835 and planned to complete the remaining three. Trumbull's advanced age and poor health did not permit him to accomplish this wish, and he died in 1843. The five paintings were purchased by Daniel Wadsworth in 1844, and they were installed in the newly formed Wadsworth Atheneum.



John Trumbull (1756-1843), The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775, 1834, Oil on canvas. Purchased by Daniel Wadsworth and members of the Atheneum Committee.

In his series of paintings about the American Revolution, John Trumbull focuses not on the outcome of the battles but on the noble and courageous behavior of the participants on both sides. In the first of his series, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, Trumbull shows the moment when American General Joseph Warren is killed by a musket ball, just as the British successfully press beyond American fortifications. An American soldier gathers the fatally wounded general in his arms, while British Major John Small fends off an attacking grenadier in an attempt to save Warren from being bayoneted. In the right foreground, a wounded soldier hesitates, wondering whether to save himself or return to assist his general.



John Trumbull (1756-1843), The Death of General Montgomery at the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775, 1834, Oil on canvas, Purchased by Daniel Wadsworth and members of the Atheneum Committee.

Rather than depict a scene from one of Major General Richard Montgomery's victorious battles, Trumbull chooses to capture the nobility and courage of the American general and his army in their futile, but brilliant, campaign against Quebec. The Canadian and British troops, who anticipated the American attack, fired a blast of grapeshot from a naval cannon, killing Montgomery, his two aides-de-camp, and several others. In The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, members of the American army gallantly and protectively surround the dying Montgomery, while others gesture in shock at the sight of their fallen leader.



John Trumbull (1756-1843); The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776; 1831; Oil on canvas; Purchased by Daniel Wadsworth and members of the Atheneum Committee.

In this painting, John Trumbull focuses on the benevolence of the victorious Americans toward a fallen enemy officer. On December 25, 1776, George Washington, determined to put an end to a demoralizing series of military defeats, planned a surprise attack on the German Hessians at Trenton. Caught on the morning after Christmas celebrations, the Germans were unable to organize a resistance; the ensuing battle lasted only forty-five minutes. In the center, mounted on a horse, Washington directs the assistance of a mortally wounded Hessian colonel, while in the left and right foregrounds, further gestures of sympathy and care for injured soldiers are depicted.



John Trumbull (1756-1843); The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777, 1831; Oil on canvas; Purchased by Daniel Wadsworth and members of the Atheneum Committee.

The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, the third battle scene in Trumbull's Revolutionary War series, commemorates the loss of a leading American general. General Hugh Mercer, shown kneeling beside his horse, is bayoneted and clubbed to death by a detachment of British forces moving to assist Lord Cornwallis in his attempt to storm Washington's camp. Cut off from his beleaguered men, Mercer fights alone to defend himself against attacking soldiers. Washington (on the brown horse) and his troops rush in to defeat the British, but are too late to aid Mercer, who dies nine days later. The Battle of Princeton was an American victory, the last conflict in Washington's campaign against the British in New Jersey.


message 20: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Wow ! Very interesting. I've never heard of Trumbull. Unfortunately, I don't know very much about art. As a docent you must be well versed in art.

How did he get depth perception with one eye? I know someone who was blind in one eye and he had to have a special mirror in the car to show depth.


message 21: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 07, 2013 09:13PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Chapter 4


P 73
"The General introduced me to them as one of the Grand Council Fire at Philadelphia."

Now that would look on a business card ! LOL

P74
Common Sense
I haven't read it, have you ?

P77
"Remember the Ladies"

Abigail was so ahead of her time in regard to slavery and womens rights. I can now understand how some compare her to Eleanor in certain respects.


message 22: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 07, 2013 09:17PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Chapter 5

p96
...may we learn by Defeat the power of becoming invincible."
~~ Abigail Adams

I like this quote. I think I will put it in my journal. Abigail sure could turn a phrase.


message 23: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Chapter 6

p 113
That is quite a long school day for young Quincy. 6-8 PM

P127
I can't believe how difficult this overland trip of 1000 miles was for John and his two boys. The conditions were beyond horrible.

P 129
Link for book mentioned


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman~~Laurence Sterne

A forerunner of psychological fiction, and considered a landmark work for its innovative use of narrative devices, Sterne's topsy-turvy novel was both celebrated and vilified when first published. Originally released in nine separate volumes, it is in effect an exercise about the difficulties of writing. Impossible to categorize, it remains a beguiling milestone in the history of literature.
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications (April 19, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 048645648X


message 24: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I am reading the hardcover edition, Carol. Please let me know, when you get the book, if that is what you are reading. I ask because I am ..."

I have the hard copy edition. I'm currently on chapter 2.


message 25: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Wow ! Very interesting. I've never heard of Trumbull. Unfortunately, I don't know very much about art. As a docent you must be well versed in art. How did he get depth perception with one eye..."

I was told that he was inches away from the canvas when painting faces?!


message 26: by Carol (last edited Apr 10, 2013 02:10PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Chapter 4-- P74; Common Sense -- I haven't read it, have you ?..."

No I haven't read it but I should Common Sense, I'll check online.
Can read it here: http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Thomas...

I was surprised that Abigail grew up in a household that owned an African slave. "Phoebe was Abigail's nurse from infancy and Abigail cared deeply for her. Her affection for Phoebe had translated into sympathy for Africans and revulsion for the institution do slavery." p.77

Alone at her kitchen table at night, writing by candle light as her household slept, Abigail had time to focus her mind, and her thought drifted to the forum at Philadelphia and her husband. This was her moment to consider issues that were most important to her, so she initiated another seditious topic. "I long to hear that you have declared an independency," she wrote, "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 favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands."

I was surprised because I only knew of Remember the Ladies from her will. I didn't know that she wrote about this earlier. p. 77

Abigail did not think beyond separate spheres of activity for men and women, nor did she question the subordination of her gender. But she did argue for women's human rights, among which were the rights of legal protection, material impartiality, personal respect, education, and benevolent treatment as wives and mothers. She would always argue for educational opportunities for women that equaled men. p. 79


message 27: by Carol (last edited Apr 10, 2013 03:27PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Chapter 6

John and John Quincy took a voyage on the Boston to France. Adams was to join Benjamin Franklin and replace Silas Deane in France. John was frustrated with Franklin who played the role of the aged rustic, he was treated everywhere as a celebrity -- you could say that "his dance card was full." Franklin thrived in this setting. But it was up to Adams to deport Silas Deane for his financial improprieties, Adams discovered his "bad" accounting, single-handedly he had to sort out this mess.



Silas Deane

Early in 1776, Deane was sent to France by Congress in a semi-official capacity, as a secret agent to induce the French government to lend its financial aid to the colonies. Subsequently he became, with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, one of the regularly accredited commissioners to France from Congress.

On arriving in Paris, Deane at once opened negotiations with the Comte de Vergennes who was the French Foreign Minister. With the assistance of the playwright and outspoken support of American independence, Beaumarchais, Deane organized shipment of many shiploads of arms and munitions of war to America helping finance the Battle of Saratoga." He also enlisted the services of a number of Continental soldiers of fortune, among whom were Lafayette, Baron Johann de Kalb, Thomas Conway, Casimir Pulaski, and Baron von Steuben. Many of these officers soon made themselves unpopular once they reached America for a variety of reasons. As Deane had signed the contracts hiring them, he was given the blame by politicians in Philadelphia.

His carelessness in keeping account of his receipts and expenditures, and the differences between himself and Arthur Lee regarding the contracts with Beaumarchais, eventually led to his recall and replacement by John Adams as ambassador to France on November 21, 1777 and was expected to face charges based on Lee's complaints and on his having promised the foreign officers commissions outranking American officers. Before returning to America, however, he signed on February 6, 1778 the treaties of amity and commerce and of alliance with France, which he and the other commissioners had successfully negotiated.


Now living in France, John had to learn their ways. When he was finally invited to Versailles to wine and dine, he attended. His greatest pleasure was to spend his weekends with John Quincy (who was 11 yrs.) since John Quincy spent his weekdays in school (became very fluent in French) .

Abigail was busy -- she wanted a source of information and corresponded with eccentric James Lovell (quirky teacher from Latin School in Boston and a member of the Continental Congress from Massachusetts.) Lovell's letters were clever and a good source of information.

Devaluation was a problem during the Revolutionary War. Individual states and the central government both had the right to issue currency. This resulted in the emission of numerous issues to pay for the war.

Abigail noticed that people in her area were becoming wealthy by profiting from the wartime economy. She decided to invest to supplement her income. During this period, I wonder how many women were in charge of the finances? Currently the Adams household had two sources of income: (1) John's law practice (vanished) and (2) the farm (high costs for hired help.) Abigail relied on her cousin Dr. Cotton Tufts for advice. She also wrote to John to ship "goods" such as tea, chocolate, fabrics, flowers, ribbons, handkerchiefs, dishes, cups, saucers and other luxury items that were in a short supply in MA and that would "fetch" good prices. Abigail also invested her speculative funds and purchased property.

In the end, John removed his son from boarding school, hired a carriage and began a northward journey to the Netherlands with the intention of seeking a loans for America among the government officials and private bankers. He arrived in Amsterdam and began the rounds of talks that eventually supported the remainder of the American war effort.


message 28: by Carol (last edited Apr 10, 2013 03:56PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments btw . . .

Saratoga Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War by Richard M. Ketchum Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War by Richard M. Ketchum
A little while ago I purchased this beautiful hardcover, first edition book at Savers ( I try to only go every 2 weeks). I will read when I'm done with Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage.


message 29: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Carol wrote: "btw . . .

Saratoga Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War by Richard M. Ketchum Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War by Richard M. Ketchum
A little while ago I purchased th..."

------------

Good buy! Are you into this historical period ?

I see you are already up to me in the reading. :)
You read a lot faster than I do. I'll probably still be reading this book and you will have read a half dozen more when I am finally done.


message 30: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Are you into this historical period ?"

No, I've never read any "war" books. When I read biographies, sometimes I feel that I have to read about things that happened during that time period. For me, it's like "connecting all the dots." At some point, I will have to read and research the civil war for my book. I believe that in order to write a good biography, I need an overall picture so that everything falls beautifully into place.


message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I see you are already up to me in the reading. :)
You read a lot faster than I do. I'll probably still be reading this book and you will have read a half dozen more when I am finally done. ..."


We will see . . . I would like to finish by Friday. I have too many books on my nightstand!
I need to rake leaves this weekend with hopefully the family's help. (We have oak trees which release their dead brown leaves in the Spring.)


message 32: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments It appears to me that after reading this book, you probably won't want to read David McCullough's bio of Adams, good as it is. You already have a good look at their lives, from what i can tell from your discussion. Just a thought...


message 33: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I've already read John Adams, it's one of my favorites. I just wanted a hard copy for my library.


message 34: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Chapter 7

Abigail struggled during this period, lack of communication from John and John Quincy, she suffered from periods of anxiety (p.136), she longed for the reunion of her family but she accepted her circumstances -- her faith is what helped her through it.

Abigail purchasing land in Vermont, she had dreamed about retirement there, but John disagreed. When John heard, he said, "God willing, I will not go to Vermont. I must be within the scent of the sea." I love that. As a New Englander who lives 50 minutes from the ocean, I know that if I ever moved to another state, I would have to be near a large lake or the ocean.

Congress appointed John as Minister to the Netherlands, While there he wrote PR pieces about America that were translated into Dutch. An opportunity arouse for John Quincy. Francis Dana (the legation"s secretary) received an appointment from Congress to represent America to the Russian court and needed a secretary who could speak better French than him. John Quincy was fluent in french. Now at the age of 14, he went with Dana to St. Petersburg.


Francis Dana (1743--1811)

Charles was at a loss without John Quincy so John put him on the South Carolina to go home to America. He was in the care of a friend, Major William Jackson. Also taking the trip home were Benjamin Waterhouse (a young physician), and artist John Trumbull.

Unfortunately storms brought them off course and they landed in Spain. The took a 21 day boat ride to Bilbao and boarded the Cicero which sailed to Beverly (just north of Boston). Abigail was relieved of his safe arrival in mid January. After living 2 years without her husband, she wrote to John about “considering resuming private life.”

Abigail was not aware of how “seriously ill” John had become. He complained of “pestilential vapours” and the “stagnant waters” of a country situated on the waterways. In September, he fell very ill. “I was seized with a fever . . . a nervous fever, of a dangerous kind, bordering on putrid.” Many 18th century illness were hard to diagnose but it may have been either malaria or typhus. He was given Pervian bark (a form of quinine) which helped (so then it is malaria).

I had been 2 years since John Quincy went to St. Petersburg. He wrote to his son suggesting it was time for him to return to The Hague. John Quincy left in October for a 6 month voyage. Abigail tried to negotiate with John about the fact that he had been abroad for 3 years and “they had been separated long enough.” John was not insensitive to her letter. But didn’t give her what she wanted.

In contrast to his previous experiences in Paris, John was now regarded as a triumphant diplomate because of his achievements in the Netherlands. He was at last “the famous Adams.”

On November 30, 1782, the preliminary Treaty of Paris was signed. The treaty was ten articles; The first stated that “His Britannic Majesty acknowledges these United States,” followed by a list of 13 states, “to be sovereign and Independent States.” To celebrate the signing, Adams reported in his diary, “We all went out to Passy to dine with Dr. Franklin.” The definitive Treaty of Paris was signed the following September after the governments of both nations gave final approval to its contents. (Artist Benjamin West never finished the painting because the British envoy refused to sit.)

It has come to Abigail's attention that Nabby has a suitor, named Royall Tyler. Abigail likes him but his reputation is suspect. Later it is clear that he has led a “dissolute life” and that he fathered a child by a housemaid at Harvard. In the winter of 1783-84, Abigail decided to address two issues: that she must see John and to take Nabby with her to Europe. Her younger son would be sent to her sisters’ home, where he would attend an academy for boys. In June 1784, mother and daughter depart on their long journey to Europe.


message 35: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Chapter 8

This is my favorite chapter so far because the family gets to reunite with each other and spend time like regular families. Abigail lightens up on John Quincy; both his father and Nabby become much closer to John Quincy which he really needs; Abigail is enjoying the theater, despite what she thinks about the lifestyle in Paris and the both Abigail and John are out as a couple, enjoying dinners, and meeting new people.


Abigail and Nabby stayed in Boston the night before their departure, when they had a visitor -- Thomas Jefferson who “in hopes of having the pleasure of attending Mrs. Adams to Paris and lessoning some of the difficulties to which she may be exposed.” But he was delayed and the ship was fully booked. Abigail and Nabby brought two servants, Esther Field and John Briesler, with them (Abigail left Phoebe to take care of their home when they were gone.) Abigail had a difficult time with the stormy ocean for the first ten days. On July 18th land was sighted. Passengers were loaded into listing boats and rowed to shore where they scrambled out of the boat “as fast as possible.” They stayed at an inn which was very different from America where you would stay in someone’s home. The next morning they began their journey, and arrived in London. For ten days, they were entertained -- saw the sights, shopped, dined, and waited. Abigail was writing a letter when one of the servants came in and said, “Young Mr. Adams is here.” Abigail registered the shock of seeing a grown son in place of the boy who had left home nearly six years ago. John arrived in London on August 7, 1784. Nabby noticed a hat on the table with two books. She sensed a change and quickly flew up to his chamber, where he was lying down. Nabby was at a loss for words to express her emotions. Abigail and John did not record their union. They next day, the reunited Adams family journeyed to Paris.

Paris -- A “proud, prim, and provincial, Abigail confronted a culture that violated her values of industry, frugality, and sobriety. Almost everything she saw bore witness to a hedonistic life that merited her disapproval.”

John had already rented a house at Auteunil, four miles southwest of Paris. It was chosen because it cost less than living in Paris, and he could exercise daily in the nearby Bois de Boulogne. The first floor contained the public rooms: “the saloon” -- the apartment where you receive company; the second floor had the bedrooms (40 beds). All tastefully furnished, beautiful windows and glass doors, with a beautiful view of the five acres of gardens. And much more.

But Paris provided a hard initiation for Abigail because of her awkwardness with the language. Social life in Paris was quite interesting. Abigail met Madame Hellvetius, 60 year old widow of a french philosopher and an intimate friend of Benjamin Franklin. “Her hair was frizzled, over it she had a small straw hat with a dirty gauze half-handkerchief round it, and a bit of dirtier gauze. After dinner, she threw herself upon a settee where she showed more than her feet. When her little dog wet the floor, she wiped it up with her chemise.” Of the people she met, Thomas Jefferson was the one person with whom she felt most comfortable. He and his daughter Patsy had a place on the cul de sac Taitbout. Both Jeffersons and Adams adopted each other as family-away-from-home. On occasion Jefferson would take Abigail, Nabby and John Quincy to concerts or the theater or to visit attractions in Paris. Abigail also liked the Marquis de Lafayette and Madame Layfayette. She also liked the Swedish ambassador Baron de Stael.

The theme of identifying John with American’s success had sustained her through the many years of hardship during the war. Once again it served her well. She did not blame John for choosing this destiny for her family. Rather, she joined forces with him as his advocate. Despite all her complaints, one area of life was magnificent. The Adamses were reunited. After nearly five years of complete separation or, as John more accurately pointed out, ten years with a few brief visits, the fact that Abigail and John had not only sustained their marriage, they carried on in the most natural way.

Their is a beautiful description of the daily, family life of the Adams at Auteuil -- pp. 168

“If marriage, religion, and social relationships in France were permeated with licentiousness, tainted by vice, according to Abigail’s New England standards, she did make allowance in the theater. Her aesthetic sensibilities accounted for the distinction. Behavior that threatened her family values earned her contempt, but she also developed a new taste for the arts, and she learned to appreciate the beauty of theatrical dance.”

John Quincy was a precocious youth, developed intellectually and socially, but he lacked an intimate acquaintance with his mother and siblings. John Quincy and John were best of friends. They toured together, attended the theater together, read together Latin and Greek texts. John Quincy was spared his youth; he became a man without a typical experience of the years between childhood and manhood. Thomas Jefferson, who had no son, was smitten with John Quincy and spent much time in his company during their year in Paris. John Quincy had best learned the message that had become myth in his family lexicon of values, the lesson of duty. He had learned that his own feelings, his own happiness, were secondary to the performance of his duty in the short run as well as the future. He felt things deeply, because he was a sensitive young man, but he also learned to keep his emotions hidden, sometimes even to himself. In Auteuil, John Quincy and Nabby became close friends, attending the theater and exploring Paris together. Abigail’s brief acquaintance with John Quincy during the ten months at Auteunil proved to be the most extended time they would have together. And John Quincy, no less lonely, sailed for the homeland to which he was a stranger. When it came time for Abigail to leave, she did so gladly but she confessed some regrets.


message 36: by Carol (last edited Apr 11, 2013 09:15PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments John Quincy Adams A Public Life, a Private Life by Paul C. Nagel John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life by Paul C. Nagel -- if you're interested in JQA, this book was a good read. I gave it 5 stars.


message 37: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Carol, i read that book and found it nice enough. For me there was too much drawn from his letters and i felt fuller explanations of his actions were missing. I think it gave good insight into his insecurities and fears history wouldn't remember him well, which surprised me, frankly.


message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Chapter 7

I think this chapter brings home just just how much sacrifice and hardship Abigail endured for the cause. If not for her strength back home, John Adams would not have been able to achieve his historical achievements.

This is something that I think is greatly overlooked when thinking of the heroes of the American Rev.

It reminded me of two quotes from the book Pioneer Women

"Surely not a star in Heaven will be too bright for the crowns of those brave women."

"History is lived in the main by the unknown and forgotten. The mass of humanity has been consigned forever to the shadows. History chronicles the large and glorious deed of the standard bearers, but tells little of the men on whose shoulders they are borne to victory."

I just would change "men" to "women". :)


message 39: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Chapter 7 mentions Benedict Arnold. It's interesting how his name, out of the millions of people in history, has become synonymous with traitor.

Here are a few books that I found on Amazon that looked interesting.

The Notorious Benedict Arnold A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure,
Heroism & Treachery

Most people know that Benedict Arnold was America’s first, most notorious traitor. Few know that he was also one of its greatest war heroes. This accessible biography introduces young readers to the real Arnold: reckless, heroic, and driven. Packed with first-person accounts, astonishing battle scenes, and surprising twists, this is a gripping and true adventure tale.
Paperback: 368 pages


Here is a Kindle book for only $2.99
Benedict Arnold Patriot and Traitor by Willard Sterne Randall Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor
In the first contemporary biography of Benedict Arnold, prize-winning journalist and historian Willard Sterne Randall unearths startling new evidence on the most famous treason in American history, explaining why the man George Washington considered his best general changed sides in the American Revolution. Randall uncovers documents long considered lost in Europe and America and analyzes Arnold's agonized career as a patriot and soldier. Benedict Arnold nearly succeeded in conquering Canada for the Americans, built the first American fleet, and repeatedly battled the British to a standstill. Then, crippled in combat, Arnold turned bitter as he became embroiled in conflicts with other generals, politicians in Congress, and Washington himself. Humiliated by public court martial, he plotted to betray his closest comrades in a conspiracy with his wife. Defecting to the British, he savagely attacked his native land, very nearly capturing Thomas Jefferson. In exile, Arnold was spurned by his old friends and enemies, becoming a man without a country.

"Randall's Benedict Arnold is one of the finest political biographies published in years." - London Times Literary Supplement
Print Length: 791 pages

Here is one for only 99 Cents for the Kindle
The True Account of Benedict Arnold Traitor~Henry William Elson
Benedict Arnold was a general during the American Revolutionary War who originally fought for the American Continental Army, but switched sides to the British Empire. As a general still on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and attempted unsuccessfully to surrender it to the British. After this he served with British forces as a Loyalist. He is one of the most famous traitors in American history.
Print Length: 61 pages

George Washington and Benedict Arnold A Tale of Two Patriots by Dave R. Palmer George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots
From 1775 through 1777, George Washington and Benedict Arnold were America’s two most celebrated warriors. Their earlier lives had surprisingly parallel paths. They were strong leaders in combat, they admired and respected each other, and they even shared common enemies. Yet one became our greatest hero and the other our most notorious traitor. Why?

In the new paperback edition of George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots, author and military historian Dave Palmer reveals the answer: character. In this fascinating and unique dual biography, Palmer also shows:
How Arnold’s treason actually helped the Patriot cause
Why Arnold and Washington’s amazingly similar backgrounds, family influences, youthful experiences, and “self–made” status led to strikingly different results in their lives
How in four well–defined steps Arnold went from hero to traitor

Presenting the panorama of the Revolutionary War through the lives of two of its most colorful and important figures, George Washington and Benedict Arnold reveals important lessons for today through a story that few Americans know, but that every American should.
Paperback: 424 pages


message 40: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Carol wrote: I was surprised that Abigail grew up in a household that owned an African slave. "Phoebe was Abigail's nurse from infancy and Abigail cared deeply for her. Her affection for Phoebe had translated into sympathy for Africans and revulsion for the institution do slavery." p.77
---------------------

Did you notice in Chapter 7 page 155

"She [Abigail] asked Uncle Issac Smith to find her a suitable vessel for travel. The important issue of her youngest sons' education was resolved by sending them to board with her sister Elizabeth Shaw, whose husband ran an academy for boys. Her house, she put into the care of Phoebe, 'to whom my father gave freedom, by his Will, and the income of a a hundred a year during her Life."


message 41: by Carol (last edited Apr 12, 2013 04:28PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Chapter 9

The Adams arrive in London in 1785 after a week long journey from Paris. Abigail felt more like herself. John, as the newly appointed minister had to attend a private meeting with King George III. John, in court attire, did his three bows to the King and made his speech and added another, more personal statement --

"I think myself more fortunate than all my fellow-Citizens, in having the distinguished Honour to be the first th Stand in your Majesty's Royal Presence, in a diplomatic Character; and I shall esteem myself the happiest of Men, if I can be instrumental in recommending my Country more amd more to your Majesty's Royal Benevolence, and of restoring an entire esteem, confidence and affection, or, in better Words, the old good Nature and the old good Humour between People who, thou separated by an ocean, and under different Governments, have the same Language, a similar Religion and kindred Blood. I beg your Majesty's Permission to add, that, although I have some time before been intrusted by my country, it was never in my whole Life, in a manner so agreeable to myself."

And King George III reply--
"Sir, The circumstances of this audience are so extraordinary, the language you have now held is so extremely proper, and the Feelings you have discovered, so justly adapted to the occasion that I must say that I not only receive with Pleasure, the Assurances of the friendly Dispositions of The United States, but that I am very glad the Choice has fallen upon you to be their Minister."

I so love those speeches between Adams & King George. I thought it was very much the way the film portrayed it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YHl_0...

John began his diplomatic career. Abigail found a residence for them and was much more comfortable in London than Paris due her her language barrier. Abigail and Nabby had to go to the Royal Court and be presented to the royal family. Abigail dreaded it, court etiquette. Being Abigail she ordered her dressmaker "to let my dress be elegant but plain as I could possibly appear, with decency, thus preserving her republican image."

She met both the King (she liked) and Queen Charlotte (not fond of her) & the princesses (found sympathetic). Abigail was appalled by the aristocratic power and wealth that rested on the labors of a poverty-ridden population. "When I reflect upon the thousands who are starving and the millions who are loaded with taxes to support this pomp and show," Abigail wrote.

Adams & Jefferson were working together to promote commerce in Europe. Jefferson came to London, and they went to the King who turned his back on both of them, why? Because Jefferson had written the Declaration of Independence (writing terrible things about the king). Or because political climate between England and America declined?

John's newly appointed secretary--William Stephens Smith-- came from a respectable family. As part of his job, he escorted Abigail and Nabby to social events. Surprisingly he asked for a brief leave to go to Prussia. He disappeared for 3 months and Nabby took over his duties. Smith returned, was warmly recepted, and accepted as a suitor. They married in June 1786, and moved into their home.

Abigail felt the loss. It was the first time (since before she had children) that she was alone. John and Abigail took excursions together, one to Holland. They also made acquaintances with American painters -- John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, John Trumbull, and Mather Brown. They were so impressed by Brown's talent that they commissioned portraits. They also visited Trumbull's atelier and were moved by his The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill .

*** great bio: Benjamin West by Robert C. Alberts Benjamin West by Robert C. Alberts

Jefferson wrote to Abigail that he sent his younger daughter, Polly, with her maid to London and asked Abigail to look after the child for 3 weeks until he came. Abigail was delighted, & took her shopping. After all her children had grown up and out, Polly was just what she needed. Jefferson was detained on business, so he sent a servant to get Polly and bring her home. Both Abigail and Polly were disappointed. After she got home, Abigail sent her a letter and according to Jefferson "she was in such a flutter that she could scarcely open it." Polly and Abigail became good friends.

Nabby gave birth to a baby boy and John and Abigail became grandparents for the first time. Both he and his wife where very happy-- making up for all the years they were separated. In early 1787 John submitted his resignation to Congress. After almost a decade, it was time to return to America.


message 42: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Carol wrote: I was surprised that Abigail grew up in a household that owned an African slave. "Phoebe was Abigail's nurse from infancy and Abigail cared deeply for her. Her affection for Phoebe had..."

Thanks, I missed that she was free and had a hundred a year.


message 43: by Carol (last edited Apr 13, 2013 06:07PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I stayed up late and I finally finished this book! I truly enjoyed it. I really like Edith Gelles writing.

The ending was especially touching, I thought that it was great that both Abigail and John had their grandchildren living with them. Since they both suffered from declining vision (possibly cataracts) the children would read to them. They were both people with great faith. Abigail believed that "Providential acceptance of circumstances informed her that human suffering was preordained for some reason beyond human understanding." They both loved each other tremendously. When their granddaughter Caroline invited them to visit her in New York, Abigail declined, because while she was willing to make the trip, John was not, and she would not leave him alone, even for a few weeks.

Abigail contracted typhus and died surrounded by her family. John was devastated and surprised that Abigail went before him since she was 10 years younger. Jefferson sent a sympathetic letter to him --"I know well, and fell what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials that have taught me that, for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medicines." John died on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, within hours of his colleague and lifetime friend, Thomas Jefferson.


message 44: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I'm starting to tackle the Discussion Questions --

1. What did John Adams mean when he referred to his and Abigail's attraction to one another as "the Steel and the Magnet"? Who was the steel...and who the magnet?

"For every experimental Phylosopher knows, that the steel and the magnet or the glass and feather will not fly together with more celerity, than somebody and somebody, when brought within the striking distance."

John wrote this to Abigail in 1763 during their courtship. He is comparing their attraction for each other to elements of natural science and saying that they are even more drawn together than gravity or magnetism.


message 45: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments 2. How does one explain this remarkable 54-year-marriage between two strong and independent personalities? To what do you attribute it? What gave it the relationship strength? Was their marriage unique—was it typical of the 18th century? Is it unique by today's standards?

I would have to say that for both of them their faith is what helped them remain strong and persevere. When you’re in a situation that is beyond your control, you can’t dwell in it. You have to surrender it, and give it to God.

Even though they were both strong and independent, it worked for them I think because they put their spouse before themselves, which is rare today. I'm not sure if it was that "normal" way in the 18th century. Abigail raised their children, managed the farm and the family's finances, and even became something of a merchant, ordering and selling goods from abroad. She generally acted without benefit of John's advice. In fact she seems to have been more help to him than he to her.


message 46: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments 3. What were some of the worst hardships the couple endured? How, dear readers, would any of us have withstood those difficulties?

Abigail knew that that public needs took priority over their private lives. It was John’s long physical absence that she found the most difficult to endure. In his letter, Abigail accused John of neglecting her, which he was; but rather than yield love to anger, she demanded that he change. It was not just the infrequency of his letters that upset her, she explained, but their brevity and formality. Long period of time spent apart with many months between letters was, I think the most difficult for the BOTH of them.

Another difficult hardship for all women at that time was the loss a newborn child. Abigail endured this alone. She never spoke about baby Susanna until many years later when JQA's wife, Louisa, had gone through the same thing when she lost her baby girl in Russia.


message 47: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments 4. What can you discern of each personality through their letters? How would you describe Abigail...and how would you describe John? Have you learned anything new about either of them? What surprised you the most...or increased your admiration for them...or disappointed you?

Abigail was resourceful and I would say a feminist. She conceded to men responsibility for states and kingdoms, and believed women best fitted for what she called ''Domestick Government.'' She may have pushed the domestic sphere to its limits, then stepped over them at times, but never put herself in competition with John. ''However brilliant a woman's talents may be,'' Abigail wrote, ''she ought never shine at the expense of her Husband.''

The marriage also worked because John never tried to reclaim his male prerogatives over those aspects of their private affairs that Abigail had come to manage so expertly, and that left him free to concentrate upon public issues. They remained therefore the lords of separate kingdoms, which were the complementary parts of a tight and satisfying whole. If you remember, when courting Abigail, John immediately admired her intelligence, and her unbridled tongue -- much like his own.


message 48: by Carol (last edited Apr 13, 2013 06:11PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments 5. Gelles says that both partners bought into "the family myth." What does she mean by that...what was the myth, and how did it work (according to the author) to keep them together? In fact, was it a myth—or was it as much truth as fiction?

The Adams "family myth" was a view of the family shared by others. The Adams myth carried an imperative for achievement of political power through moral and educational superiority. The myth originated with John who in his youth had a great desire for power and a will to control as well as drive and ambition. John was comfortable with his egoism but John Quincy reacted to his own great egoism with denial, fear, and guilt. How did this happen?

Abigail compensated for her loneliness during John's long absences by constructing an exaggerated image of his greatness for her children, especially JQA. Her strength within the family was not only that of endurance but also of control. This severely affected JQA and after this his father took him to France at the age of eleven and he remained in Europe until he was eighteen.


message 49: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17005 comments Needless to say, I am still plodding along. That's no reflection on the book, I've just been busy and haven't had much time for reading.

I am enjoying your comments.

I'll continue to post on the book.


message 50: by Carol (last edited Apr 13, 2013 06:16PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments That's fine. I just have so many books on my night stand that I have to finish. I read today Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey and currently reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. I needed a little fiction break!


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