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Abigail and Mercy

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The study of history, by its nature, is constantly evolving, as contemporary society reestablishes values and examines history under a new scope of social priorities. During this process of historical evolution, it is not events alone that take on new importance, but also the portrayal of historical figures themselves, personalities and influences changing from biography to biography over the years. Such has been the case with the historical Abigail Adams, best known for her well-preserved and archived correspondence with her husband, the Revolutionary Founding Father John Adams, among many other acquaintances. Abigail Adams has been portrayed in a number of lights over the years, from that of ideal New England matron, to republican mother to wife, and flirtatious, insidious manipulator. Each portrayal was motivated by the historian’s personal agenda, social background, or contemporary context. The true Abigail can hardly be described in a single cliché.