Last Spring I surprised myself by suggesting to my book club we read First Family, Abigail & John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis. This was unusual for me. I tend to lean more towards fiction or more current nonfiction. However, after my love of the HBO miniseries about this family, their story intrigued me. Mostly, I was taken by the remarkably preserved portrait of their shared lives in their personal correspondence, an exchange of more than 1,200 letters. Not only have these letters opened a window to their personal lives but it became a written record, revealing insights into America’s early years. I adored the book.
So as we celebrate the 4th of July, I give a big cheers to Abigail and John Adams. Thankfully these prolific writers were thoughtful enough to hold onto the letters which have provided an understanding and appreciation of our country’s past. And as one of the signers of The Declaration of Independence, John Adams’s handwriting left an indelible mark on this day in 1776.
Unless one of my children becomes the President or is the first person on Jupiter, I don’t see our saved family letters becoming part of our country’s history. That said, my hope is to hold tight to those correspondences by parents and grandparents, by Nick and me, and by and to our children. These letters will help us understand the highs and lows in different eras and will ensure the story of our family’s history will endure for years to come.
Here’s to our heritage and what makes us who we are. It all began with 56 signatures.