Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1777

Five letters pass between Abigail and John Adams

On this day in 1777, Continental Congressman John Adams writes three letters to and receives two letters from his wife, Abigail. He is with Congress in Philadelphia, while she maintains their farm in Braintree, Massachusetts.

The remarkable correspondence between Abigail and John Adams—numbering 1,160 letters in total—covered topics ranging from politics and military strategy to household economy and family health. Their mutual respect and adoration served as evidence that even in an age when women were unable to vote, there were nonetheless marriages in which wives and husbands were true intellectual and emotional equals.

In the second letter John drafted to Abigail on March 7, he declared that Philadelphia had lost its vibrancy during Congress’ removal to Baltimore. This City is a dull Place, in Comparason [sic] of what it was. More than one half the Inhabitants have removed to the Country, as it was their Wisdom to do—the Remainder are chiefly Quakers as dull as Beetles. From these neither good is to be expected nor Evil to be apprehended. They are a kind of neutral Tribe, or the Race of the insipids. By contrast, Adams described the Loyalists, who prepared their Minds and Bodies, Houses and Cellars, to receive General William Howe should he attack, as a Pack of sordid Scoundrels male and female.

In the letters John received, which Abigail had written in February, she bemoaned not only the difficulty of correspondence during war, but also of the lack of military fervor demonstrated by the New Englanders around her. She wrote that she awaited greater patriotism, greater prosperity and future correspondence from her beloved husband to his devoted Portia. (Portia, Adams’ nickname for his wife was likely a reference to the intelligent and devoted heroine of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.)

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Stanley Kubrick dies

On March 7, 1999, American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick dies in Hertfordshire, England, at the age of 70. One of the most acclaimed film directors of the 20th century, Kubrick’s 13 feature films explored the dark side of human nature. Born in New York City in 1928, Kubrick took up ...read more

Bangladesh’s first democratic leader

Sheikh Mujib Rahman, a leader of the Bangladeshi independence movement and first prime minister of Bangladesh, wins a landslide victory in the country’s first general elections. At the end of British rule in the Indian subcontinent in 1947, East Pakistan was declared a possession ...read more

Finland signs treaty with Germany

Four days after Russia signs a humiliating peace treaty with the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk, the newly declared independent state of Finland reaches a formal peace settlement with Germany. Though Finland—a former Swedish duchy ceded to Russian control in 1809, when Russia’s ...read more

Republic of Korea forces operation launch

The largest South Korean operation to date starts, forming a link-up of two Korean division areas of operations along the central coastal area of South Vietnam. South Korean forces had been in South Vietnam since August 1964, when Seoul sent a liaison unit to Saigon. The South ...read more

Jets engage in aerial combat

In the biggest air battle in Southeast Asia in three years, U.S. jets battle five North Vietnamese MiGs and shoot one down 170 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone. The 86 U.S. air raids over North Vietnam in the first two months of this year equaled the total for all of 1971. ...read more

Mike Tyson unifies titles

On March 7, 1987, Mike Tyson defeats James “Bonecrusher” Smith to unify the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. Already the youngest-ever heavyweight champion after winning the title at just 19 years old the year before, Tyson became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion in ...read more

Carter meets with Yitzhak Rabin

On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter meets with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. For two days, the president and Mrs. Carter played host to the prime minister and his wife during the Israelis’ first trip to Washington, D.C. The meetings with Rabin led eventually to ...read more

Kansas quarantines Texas cattle

The Kansas legislature passes a law barring Texas cattle from the state between March 1 and December 1, the latest action reflecting the love-hate relationship between Kansas and the cattle industry. Texans had adopted the practice of driving cattle northward to railheads in ...read more

Defense rests in Andrea Yates trial

The defense rests in the trial of Andrea Yates, a 37-year-old Texas woman who confessed to killing her five young children by drowning them in a bathtub. Less than a week later, on March 13, Yates was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; however, her conviction was later ...read more