The story of Abigail and John Adams is as much a romance as it is a lively chapter in the early history of this country. The marriage of the second president and first lady is one of the most extraordinary examples of passion and endurance that this country has ever witnessed. And it is a drama peopled with a pantheon of eighteenth-century stars: George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, his daughter Patsy, Ben Franklin, and Mercy Otis Warren.
Abigail and John were a uniquely compatible duo, and in their remarkable union we can see the strength of a people determined to achieve full independence in the face of daunting odds. Yet while much has been written about each as an individual, Abigail and John provides, for the first time, the captivating story of their dedication and sacrifice that helped usher in the founding of our country, a time that fascinates us still.
Married in 1764 by Abigail's reverend father, the young couple worked side by side for a decade, raising a family while John's status as one of the most prosperous, respected lawyers in Massachusetts grew. As his duties within the new republic expanded, the Adamses endured a long period of sporadic separations. But their loyalty and love kept their bond firm across the distance, as is evident in their tender letters. It's in this correspondence that Abigail comes into her own as a woman of politics, offering words of advice and encouragement to a husband whose absences were crucial to the independence they both cherished. And it's also in these exchanges that they worked through the familial tragedies that tested them: the death of their son Charles from alcoholism and the impoverishment and early death of their daughter Nabby.
Through its fifty-four years, the union of John and Abigail Adams was based on mutual respect and ambition, intellect and equality, that went far beyond the conventional bond. 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.
There have been numerous biographies, scholarly works, and even novels on the lives of both John Adams, the second President of the United States, and his wife, Abigail. However, few of these works treat the Adamses fully as a couple, struggling together to make it through revolutionary times. Gelles is no stranger to Abigail Adams, having previously written Abigail Adams: A Writing Life and Portia: The World of Abigail Adams. But what is most striking about her latest work is not only that it treats the two formative founding figures together but that it reads much like fiction. Gelles culled her research from the couple's letters, using their words to tell the story of their marriage. By intertwining the stories of John and Abigail, Gelles re-creates the world of revolutionary Boston and New England with marked success. She also reminds us that while the founding of the United States may have been a male enterprise, women were also involved, though their influence was private. Recommended for both lay readers and scholars.