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, July 13, 2012

John and Abigail Adams’s “Love Letters”

Last month the Boston Globe highlighted the letters between John and Abigail Adams and a theatrical presentation based on them. The article may now be behind a paywall for most folks, but it said:
Tom Macy and Patricia Bridgman…will step into the roles of John and Abigail for readings of their letters on three afternoons this summer in the Buttrick Garden, on a hillside above the North Bridge in Concord [in Minute Man National Historical Park].

At 1 p.m. …on July 28 and Aug. 26, the Adams scholars and living-history performers will present “Love Letters: The Intimate Correspondence of John and Abigail Adams.”

The 20 or so letters featured in the free presentation span from the early years of their courtship, which began in 1759, to early 1778, when John and son John Quincy sailed to France.

The letters feature lighthearted teasing, the joys of children and farm, optimism on the eve of the birth of a nation, and steadfast love and respect for each other. They also reflect human concerns that are familiar today.

“People will be hearing a married couple talking about things in their marriage, and they’ll be hearing parents talking about their kids,” Macy said. “Some real typical everyday stuff between two married people, but it’s happening at an insane time in our history.”

The presentation takes about 40 minutes. “And what we like to do is at the conclusion ask if anybody has any questions,” Macy said. “And we get into some conversation with the audience, some back-and-forth. We’re going to be underneath a beautiful big old maple tree.”
It would be impossible to do a similar “Love Letters” program with most other couples from eighteenth-century America. The Adamses were not only both intelligent and lively writers, but they were keenly aware of their potential place in history, so they saved most of their papers.

In contrast, only four letters between George and Martha Washington survive. Two of those are just a paragraph long, and the other two George wrote to Martha from Philadelphia just after he accepted the post of commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

1 comment:

thomaswmacy@yahoo.com said...

"You bid me burn your letters. I must forget you first." --- John Adams to Abigail Adams