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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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

‘“When John & Abigail Met George” in Cambridge, 14 Mar.

On Thursday, 14 March, I’ll speak at the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge on the topic “When John & Abigail Met George: The Adamses' Earliest Encounters with General Washington.”

Here’s our event description:
John Adams met George Washington in Philadelphia in 1774, and the next year Abigail Adams was highly impressed by the new general in Cambridge. Those meetings grew into a strong political partnership in the 1790s, but the first interactions were not entirely smooth.

This talk delves into the relationship between Washington and the Adamses in the first year of the Revolutionary War. Is John’s story of nominating Washington to be commander-in-chief reliable? How did John’s stolen mail lead to Abigail shaking a dog’s paw in Medford? Which Native American leaders dined with Washington and Adams in Cambridge in 1776? And did Abigail Adams ever visit George and Martha Washington in the Vassall house?
When John Adams met Washington at the First Continental Congress, it was the first time the lawyer had ever been outside of New England. Washington, in contrast, had explored the near west, spent a season on Barbados, and even visited Boston in early 1756, when Adams was off in Worcester teaching school while trying to decide on a profession.

On the other hand, Washington had never been to college or received the classical education that Adams had. He didn’t have Adams’s breadth of reading or depth of thought about law and government.

Each man had experience in his own colony’s legislature, and both saw benefits in a colonial union against the London government. To that end, their different strengths and experiences complemented each other. Washington and Adams became allies and worked closely together until the end of Washington’s political career more than two decades later.

For this talk I’ll focus on the personal details of the relationship between the men and their wives from the fall of 1774 to the spring of 1776.

Space in the Longfellow carriage house is limited, and I understand most of it has been spoken for already. Please call 617-876-4491 or email reservationsat105@gmail.com to ask about a seat or a spot on the waiting list.

This talk is cosponsored by the Friends of the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters with support from the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. Copies of The Road to Concord will be available for purchase and inscription.

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