"Remember the ladies," Abigail Adams cautioned her husband, John Adams, in a letter written to him in March, 1776, toward the end of the American Revolution. Adams was in Philadelphia participating in the Continental Congress, and as usual, their letters of late had focused on political philosophy and thoughts and predictions about the direction and government of the new nation, but in this missive, Adams was even more direct than usual:
Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute. . . .
Although she may be best known for her "Remember the ladies" comment in the standard American history textbook, students of the Adams family know that Abigail's independent thinking and eloquent articulation of ideas were greatly valued by her husband. Although Adams was amused by but dismissive of his wife's comments on a woman's rebellion, he asked her opinion of nearly everything he ever attempted. She has been referred to by some as a feminist, America's first, and while it was unusual for a woman of that time period to speak and think independently, it was even more unusual for said woman's husband to have any interest in, much less value, his wife's ideas. Abigail's letters to John, then, are a treasure trove of ideas about everything from the future of the new nation to the role of women in the new government to the values of education and the importance of living a life of virtue--all from the point of view, most unusually in that time period, of a woman, making hers a unique and particularly valuable contribution to American literature.