Independence Day

by subterfusex

Abigail Adams

Dear Abigail,

We are now some 230 years removed from your extraordinary doings, but your words have remained with us. Indeed, though you thought your correspondence with your much admir’d husband John ought to remain private, we hope you can understand the great gift it has become for us, your inheritors.

Your letters show that you and John had an enviable relationship, one of true partners in a time when women were still considered things more than people. You urged him to change this, proving for all time that American women have always wanted to be equal. Better yet, you did so in the most charming and firm manner, making clear your position and your seriousness.

“I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives.

“But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken; and, notwithstanding all your wise laws and maxims, we have it in our power, not only to free ourselves, but to subdue our masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet.” (May 7th, 1776)

Your prescient mind saw what men did not want to acknowledge. A people oppressed will always rise up. As the American colonists threw off their British masters, so, you warned, would women one day insist that they be given equal treatment under the law, in their marriages, and elsewhere.

Though you were unable to convince your husband or son to make that most important push on behalf of women, we do not blame you, or them. The nation was fighting a war, and then an ongoing battle to maintain what had been won. No human being can fight on so many fronts and be successful. Your menfolk put their efforts toward the country as a whole, and we must be grateful to them for that. We are grateful to you, Abigail, for nurturing such good men, and reminding them, always, that the women of America are deserving of rights.

It has taken us a long, long time to make the sort of progress you advocated for. It was only rather recently that American women were granted the vote nation-wide, and our own mothers fought hard to free themselves as both sexual beings, and career-climbers. Some of what they did would shock you, or even offend you. But do not regret that your actions put us on such a path. For we, the rising generation of women, were raised to expect equality in all things. We are offended when our sex is denigrated, and we have the resources and will to fight back. We are freed to be mothers, workers, lovers, and politicians. We imagine you would like Hillary Clinton, one of our nation’s premier female politicians. She was unable to seize the presidency for herself, but she has undoubtedly cleared the way for others to try.

Thank you, Abigail, for having the foresight and the will to push for this. Our world is far from perfect; we have taken it upon ourselves to continue to push for something better. But the struggle to come even this far would have been harder still if we had not had the inspiring, reassuring letters you exchanged with your husband.

We deserve this, your voice tells us across the centuries. You can only keep it from us for so long.

We detect an additional hint of, Don’t make me bitchslap you when it happens.

Thank you, Abigail. Happy Independence Day. We come a little closer to realizing the full meaning of the word every year.

d & f

via Flickr, by deltaMike

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