Abigail Adams Wrote To John In 1776: Remember The Ladies Or We'll Rebel

Adams wrote a feminist letter to her husband just before U.S. independence.
The face of Abigail Adams, a woman who takes no shit from no man.
The face of Abigail Adams, a woman who takes no shit from no man.
Universal History Archive via Getty Images

Abigail Adams wanted her husband John Adams to “remember the ladies” when writing the Constitution of The United States.

According to History.com, a 32-year-old Abigail wrote a letter to John dated March 31, 1776. Abigail wrote that she hoped Continental Congress would be more “favorable” to women than their ancestors had been.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency,” Abigail 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.

The letter came just a few months before America’s independence from Britain in July 1776. Little did Abigail and her husband know, John was to become the second president of the United States in 1797.

In possibly the best line of the letter, Abigail reminded John what happens when men get ahold of “unlimited power.”

“Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could,” she wrote. “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.”

She continued:

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 [sic] of the Supreem [sic] Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Well, this is pretty much a perfect note to end Women’s History Month on.

Head over to The Massachusetts Historical Society to read the full letter.

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