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, October 23, 2009

Abigail Adams Can’t Help Smiling

Tonight at 7:00 at the C. Walsh Theatre on Beacon Hill, the Abolitionism in Black & White symposium will present a staged reading of Lydia R. Diamond’s new play, Harriet Jacobs. It dramatizes the life of the author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, who escaped from slavery and eventually settled in Cambridge.

After the reading, Diamond will discuss the history behind the play and the challenge of converting history into theater with Prof. David Blight of Yale and Dean Kenneth S. Greenberg of Suffolk. And it’s all completely free.

Since I’m busy helping to organize that and the following day’s panel discussions on the ante-bellum anti-slavery community in Boston and Cambridge, I have time to post only a short bite from the eighteenth century. But it’s a tasty one.

On this date in 1776, Abigail Adams added a little note to a letter to her husband John:

I cannot help smileing at your caution in never subscribeing [i.e., signing] a Letter, yet frank it upon the outside where you are obliged to write your name.
John was, after all, a thrifty Yankee.

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