5. Abigail Adams was more than just the First Lady of the United States, she was also known as “America’s First Feminist.”
The wife of John Adams, Abigail Adams was far more than just the ceremonial First Lady. She was also the President’s friend and closest adviser. What’s more, she was a prolific writer and formidable intellectual. She was also active in politics, even managing to stay active while being a mother to six children. Unsurprisingly given her many notable achievements, Adams is often referred to as ‘America’s First Feminist’.
Born Abigail Smith in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1744, the young Abigail did not benefit from a formal education. But still, with her grandmother’s help, and thanks to her own determination, she became a knowledgeable and well-read young woman. So, when she met John Adams at the age of 15, it was a match of intellectual, if not social, equals. She moved with her husband to Boston. They got a farm and started a family. Increasingly, however, John was forced away to fight for independence. It was then that Abigail Adams really came into her own, as the many letters between the pair testify.
Adams not only raised six children almost single-handedly, she also ran the farm. What’s more, she managed the family investments, even ignoring her husband’s advice and making a sizable profit. Then, when John was elected President, she brought this same spirit of independence to Washington. She played an active role in politics, and she served not only as the President’s closest adviser but also as his public relations department, too. In later years, she would provide the same level of support to her son, John’s, political career, helping him all the way to the White House.
Arguably Adam’s greatest legacy was her advocacy for women’s rights. In 1776, she penned a letter to the Continental Congress. In it, she argued that women should not be secondary members of society but are equal to men. Following her death in 1818, her feminist arguments would be taken up and developed by a new wave of campaigners. Today, she is largely remembered for being one of the most important First Ladies in American history.