Nevertheless, She Persisted: Abigail Adams

“These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.”


Abigail Adams (1744-1818)

You know the highlights of the story, thanks to history textbooks, a Broadway musical, the movie version of the Broadway musical, the PBS mini-series, the revival of the Broadway musical (starring Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation), the HBO mini-series, New York Times bestselling books, and maybe even from the supernatural-thriller TV series Sleepy Hollow (though, in that last example, strict adherence to historical facts is not guaranteed).

Heck, even an early issue of Wonder Woman, published in 1942, included a mini-biography of Abigail Adams.

But let’s review:

–even though girls of the Colonial Era weren’t widely given access to formal education,  Abigail Adams became one of the most brilliant women of her era — or any era — thanks to home schooling by her mother, and by availing herself of her father and grandfather’s large home libraries

–she gave birth to six children in twelve years (five survived); her son John Quincy Adams later became President of the United States

–she ran the household and the family farm while her husband John was away at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia

–she missed her husband’s Inauguration because she was tending to her dying mother-in-law

–when her brother, her brother-in-law, and her son Charles all became incapacitated by alcoholism, she brought all their children to Washington, DC to live in the White House

–she kept up on current events and political developments; her husband respected her knowledge, and often asked for her advice, to the point that naysayers called her “Mrs. President”

–and through it all, she wrote hundreds of letters, many of them witty, all of them wise and full of sage advice, all of them providing a window into the mind of a wholly remarkable person.


Comic Vine, an online comics database, duly gives Abigail Adams a character bio based on her short feature in Wonder Woman #14 (“Wonder Woman in Shamrock Land”).

Seemingly without irony, Comic Vine lists Abigail Adams’s “super[hero] name” as … “Abigail Adams.”

Seems appropriate.



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