J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Love Letters to Be Read in Westford, 9 February

Dan Lacroix at the Westford Museum has sent out this announcement:

On Saturday, February 9th, starting at 7:30 P.M., the Westford Museum will host “Love Letters: The Intimate Correspondence of John and Abigail Adams,” just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The correspondence between John and Abigail Adams over their months and years of separation gives us unparalleled insight into one of the world’s great love affairs. The fact that this love affair took place at such a critical time in America’s history is most remarkable! Reenactors Tom Macy and Pat Bridgman bring the Adamses’ letters to life as the audience is brought from 1764 and the beginnings of their courtship, to 1777 when John is preparing to leave for France. Learn more about these iconic personalities as they reveal their homely pleasure in their children and their farm, their deepest hopes for their nation, and their undying love and respect for one another.

Special Valentine’s refreshments will be served. Tickets are $12 per person ($20 per couple for Westford Historical Society members). Contact the Museum at 978-692-5550 or by email to buy tickets.
As an advance taste, here’s how John, signing himself “Philander,” opened a letter dated 20 Apr 1763 to Abigail, his “Diana,” who was living in Weymouth:
Love sweetens Life, and Life sometimes destroys Love. Beauty is desirable and Deformity detestible; Therefore Beauty is not Deformity nor Deformity, Beauty. Hope springs eternal in the human Breast, I hope to be happyer next Fall than I am at present, and this Hope makes me happyer now than I should be without it.–

I am at Braintree but I wish I was at Weymouth! What strange Revolutions take Place in our Breasts, and what curious Vicissitudes in every Part of human Life. This summer I shall like Weymouth better than Braintree but something prompts me to believe I shall like Braintree next Winter better than Weymouth.
What would be different about “Braintree next Winter”? I suspect that John and Abigail had started to talk about getting married then, or maybe Abigail was simply planning a long visit to her sister there. John underwent smallpox inoculation in early 1764, requiring a period of separation (lots of letters), and Abigail married him at last on 25 October.

All the letters between Abigail and John are available in the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Adams Electronic Archive. A new print collection, titled My Dearest Friend, was just published.

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