Friday, October 10th, 2008 | Author:

[This post is part of the Favorite Founders' Quote Friday sponsored by Meet the Founding Fathers. Go to the site to see who else has participated today.]

I’ve been doing this FFQF thing for several weeks now, and I’ve been very good – I’ve followed all the rules. But this week, I could not resist bending them a little. After all, Abigail Adams, for all her wisdom and strength, was never a father, founding or otherwise. As she was the wife of one president, though, and the mother of another, I decided that’s close enough. This quote is taken from a letter she wrote to her son, John Quincy Adams, when he was 12 years old.

20 March 1780

The only sure and permanent foundation of virtue is religion. Let this important truth be engraven upon your heart. And also, that the foundation of religion is the belief of the one only God, and a just sense of his attributes, as a being infinitely wise, just, and good, to whom you owe the highest reverence, gratitude, and adoration; who superintends and governs all nature, even to clothing the lilies of the field, and hearing the young ravens when they cry; but more particularly regards man, whom he created after his own image, and breathed into him an immortal spirit, capable of a happiness beyond the grave; for the attainment of which he is bound to the performance of certain duties, which all tend to the happiness and welfare of society, and are comprised in one short sentence, expressive of universal benevolence, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

In Letters of Mrs. Adams, The Wife of John Adams, ed., Charles Francis Adams
3d. edition, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1841.

Category: FFQF
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2 Responses
  1. Mrs. Mecomber says:

    What a lovely woman she was. I do consider her a founder– John called her “his ballast” and dearest political advisor. Certainly she was more shrewd and perceptive than John, and through his leadership and influence in manly affairs, she clearly shines through his actions. So I don’t think you are “cheating” at all. She was a great lady and I hope I can imitate her but a fraction and influence my own children in such a way.

    Mine’s up, too!

  2. Hercules Mulligan says:

    Hi Jean! This is a terrific quote! I don’t think you could be considered “cheating,” because Abigail Adams was the perfect companion and helpmeet of one Founding Father (John Adams), and greatly responsible for a “second-generation” Founder, John Quincy Adams.

    A little reflection that is slightly off the topic of our theme, but important nevertheless:
    Modern feminists complain that the Founding Fathers were unfair, because they didn’t give women the right to vote. From that fact alone, they claim that the Founders were male chauvinists of some sort, believing that women had no higher potential then house-cleaning and child-rearing (which goes to show how self-centered extreme feminists are). Of course, the Founders’ own writings disprove these claims, but these feminists point to Abigail Adams as someone who stood up against this “tyranny.”

    Now, the Founders’ own writings and deeds disprove these accusations. For example, Benjamin Rush established the first-ever college for women. Others encouraged the educational advance in their wives and daughters. The Founding Mothers were very happy to serve in the station that they did, and like Abigail Adams, worked behind the scenes to influence their husbands (and sons) and change history.

    But like Abigail Adams, they knew that by serving as mothers, they actually had more influence over the future of the nation (politically and otherwise), because they would imbue the principles which would influence their son’s future votes.

    In the case of Mrs. Adams, she had four sons. The family was relatively united in political ideas. Now, which would have been more influential: her single vote, or the votes of her four sons (not to mention the illustrious political career of one), which she influenced?

    Well, I think I just formulated an idea for next month’s theme! Although it looks on the outset, unrelated, it should naturally follow the practical application of spreading virtue in society.

    Thanks again, Jean! I think your choice gave me an excuse to share my thoughts, and which in turn led me to the next theme, which follows the previous ones perfectly!

    Happy FFQF. :)