Akers describes Abigail Adams as "the nation's best informed woman on public affairs, while never overstepping... the line nature had drawn between the sexes." This is the books main idea of course, based on the life of Abigail Adams. She influenced her husband and second president, John Adams as well as her son and sixth president, John Quincy Adams. Akers portrays how John Adams saw Abigail as an intellectual equal in the confines in their own home. Her political philosophy was as wise and un pandering as her husband's.
Often they would talk of politics, Abigail perhaps the superior in this subject. When they came to a conflict in ideas, Abigail gently persuaded her husband in his views. Abigail pressed John on the importance of emancipation of women but never went beyond him or a few close friends. "She could not expect to be more than a private observer and supporter of her husband's political career." She gently taunted John of those few queens who had ruled as monarchs and had been generally good sovereigns. Thus, she wanted republican women to be good sovereigns. Abigail declared to her husband, "my ambition will extend no further than Reigning in the Heart of my husband." She thought women should work as hard for a voice in their male-dominated society as to preserve what they had already attained.
Though Abigail encouraged other women to publish works such as Judith Sargent Murray's "On the Equality of the Sexes" she herself never overstepped the line. Akers also depicts the life of American women during the American Revolution. He describes their lives in contrast with their male counter-parts. Women were expected to bare children and reside compliantly under the support of their father or husband. Few women of this time were educated in areas other than maintaining their house and keeping their husband and children healthy. Those who were educated were expected to stay at home and impress on their sons the art of politics and such.
Men of this time took their wives for granted as well as birth. Because Abigail Adams had useful family connections and a constant supply of literature, she became a very educated woman and "did not call for a revolution in the roles of men and women." She hoped rather for a legal system where women could find "maximum fulfillment in the ascribed roles as wives and mothers, domestic beings deferential to fathers and husbands." One of Akers strengths in Abigail Adams: An American Woman is his descriptions of the lives of American women during this time. He has written an accurate and judicious account of Abigail Adams' life. He brings together the insights of many studies fo her husband, her son, the American Revolution, and the role of women in early American History.
He makes great evaluation of Abigail's opinions as well. Akers, however, has failed to bring light to very little that is new. He sources are almost entirely Abigail Adams' letters. Accounts were taken directly from her letters. He fails to say anything new about her at this stage and does not come anywhere near the brilliance of Abigail's own words. Akers was born in 1920 and was an educated man, receiving his Ph.
D. in 1952 at Boston College, he also attended Eastern Nazarene College. He became a professor of History at several different colleges and universities. He wrote books of other significant historical figures such as Jonathon Mayhew in Called Unto Liberty: A Life of Johnathon Mayhew and Samuel Cooper in The Divine Politician: Samuel Cooper and The American Revolution in Boston. Aker's Abigail Adams: An American Woman is written in a lean and lively style for which the reader is thankful.
It allows the reader to understand more freely exactly what Abigail Adams' life must have been like, based on her letters. It keeps the reader's attention and the author's as well as he does not stray from his topic. Akers sources are impressive by far. Mainly the book is based on the correspondence of Abigail but he also uses publications of her grandchildren and many others. Other reviews have found Akers' book as "a fascinating portrait of one of America's greatest statesmen." Most of the reviews researched supported the ideas exhibited in this book review. A few, however, have contradicted Akers' work by saying they "were troubled by the author's acceptance of the idea that Adams was eager for war with France." Despite this argument the few reviews contradicting Abigail Adams: An American Woman have had more good things to say of Aker's publication than bad.
I would recommend this book for other students because it gives insight of the role of American women during the Revolution. It goes into immense detail of the life of the Adamses and other historical figures of this period.