“I cannot o! I cannot be reconcild to living as I have done for 3 years past… Will you let me try to soften, if I cannot wholy releave you, from your Burden of Cares and perplexities?” So begins Abigail Adams’s correspondence to her husband in these volumes: a plea to end their long separation, as John Adams represented the United States in Europe while Abigail tended to family and farm in Massachusetts, and passed on to John crucial political information from Congress.
In October 1782, the Adams family was as widely scattered as it would ever be, with young John Quincy Adams in St. Petersburg, John at The Hague, and Abigail in Braintree with her daughter and younger sons. With the summer of 1784, however, Abigail would have her fondest wish, as most of the family reunited to spend nearly a year together in Europe. As the Adams family traveled, and as the children came of age, so their correspondence expanded to include an ever larger and more fascinating range of Cultural topics and international figures. The record of this remarkable expansion, these volumes document John Adams’s diplomatic triumphs, his wife and daughter’s participation in the cosmopolitan scenes of Paris and London, and his son John Quincy’s travels in Europe and America. These pages also welcome Thomas Jefferson, who soon became one of Abigail’s closest friends, into the family correspondence. From the intimacies of the children’s education, sentimental and worldly, to the details of the firm friendship between Abigail and Madame Lafayette, to the grand drama of Edmund Burke and William Pitt the Younger debating in Parliament, the contents of these letters draw an incredibly rich picture of international life in the 1780s and an incomparable portrait of America’s first family of politics and letters.