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Abigail Adams

"To be attentive to our guests is not only true kindness, but true politeness: for if there is a virtue which is its own reward, hospitality is that virtue. We remember slight attentions, after we have forgotten great benefits ..."

Abigail Adams, letter to her granddaughter Caroline (1808), in Caroline de Windt, ed., Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams (1841)

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"And now let me ask you, my friend, whether you do not think, that many of our disappointments and much of our unhappiness arise from our forming false notions of things and persons."

Abigail Adams, to Mrs. H. Lincoln (1761), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"...there is something which makes it more agreeable to condemn ourselves than to be condemned by others."

Abigail Adams, to her husband (1764), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"The tea, that baneful weed, is arrived. Great and I hope, effectual opposition has been made to the landing of it. ... The flame is kindled, and like lightning it catches from soul to soul."

Abigail Adams, to Mrs. Warren (1773), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them."

Abigail Adams, to her husband, John Adams (1774), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature; and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and, like the grave, cries 'Give, give.'"

Abigail Adams, to her husband, John Adams (1775), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"How is it possible, that the love of gain and the lust of domination should render the human mind so callous to every principle of honor, generosity and benevolence?"

Abigail Adams, to her husband, John Adams (1775), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. ... The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues."

Abigail Adams, to her son, John Quincy Adams (1780), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."

Abigail Adams, to her son, John Quincy Adams (1780), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"Necessity has no law ..."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1784), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"O dear variety! how pleasing to the human mind is change."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1784), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. ... Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1784), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"The expense of living abroad, I always supposed to be high, but my ideas were nowise adequate to the thing."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1784), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"... fashion is the deity everyone worships in this country [France], and, from the highest to the lowest, you must submit. ... To be out of fashion is more criminal than to be seen in a state of nature, to which the Parisians are not averse."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1784), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"... America has much to do ere she arrives at her zenith; she possesses every requisite to render her the happiest country upon the globe."

Abigail Adams, to her niece Betsey Cranch (1785), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"When an object is to be ridiculed, 'tis generally exaggerated ..."

Abigail Adams, to her niece Betsey Cranch (1786), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"All that is well intended is not well received."

Abigail Adams, to Mrs. Warren (1786), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"... ambition is a very wild passion ..."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1787), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"Our countrymen create most of the misfortunes they feel, for want of a disinterested spirit, a confidence in each other, and a union of the whole. It is a great misfortune, when one State thwarts the measures of eleven or twelve, and thus injures the credit and reputation of the whole."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1787), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"I am sometimes led to think that human nature is a very perverse thing, and much more given to evil than to good."

Abigail Adams, to her daughter (1791), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"... no friend can supply the absence of a good husband ..."

Abigail Adams, to her daughter (1791), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"... it is a maxim here, that he who dies with studying dies in a good cause, and may go to another world much better calculated to improve his talents, than if he had died a blockhead."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mrs. Shaw (1791), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"Well, knowledge is a fine thing, and mother Eve thought so; but she smarted so severely for hers, that most of her daughters have been afraid of it since."

Abigail Adams, to her sister, Mrs. Shaw (1791), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"... bluster will scarcely produce a mouse."

Abigail Adams, to her daughter (1791), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"Old Friends can never be forgotten by me."

Abigail Adams, to Mrs. Warren (1797), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"Faithful are the wounds of a friend."

Abigail Adams, to President Thomas Jefferson (1804), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"Party spirit is blind, malevolent, uncandid, ungenerous, unjust and unforgiving.... Party hatred, by its deadly poison, blinds the eyes and envenoms the heart."

Abigail Adams, to President Thomas Jefferson (1804), Letters of Mrs. Adams (1848)

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"I must entreat you to remember me often. I never think your letters half long enough."

Abigail Adams, (1777), in Charles Francis Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams (1875)

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"Do not grieve, my friend -- my dearest friend. I am ready to go, and -- John, it will not be long."

Abigail Adams, in last letter to John Adams (1818), in Dorothie De Bear Bobbé, Abigail Adams, the Second First Lady (1929)

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"Whatever you undertake aim to make yourself perfect in it, for if it is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well."

Abigail Adams, to John Quincy Adams (1780), in L.H. Butterfield, ed., Adams Family Correspondence (1963)

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"You will e'er long know that a Grandchild is almost as near to your Heart as your own children; my little Boys delight me and I should feel quite melancholy without them."

Abigail Adams, 1789, New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1973)

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"... I hate to complain. No one is without their difficulties, whether in High, or low Life, & every person knows best where their own shoe pinches."

Abigail Adams, 1790, New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1973)

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"Better is a little with contentment than great Treasure; and trouble therewith."

Abigail Adams, to Mary Smith Cranch (1790), New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1973)

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"I cannot bear to go to a place unprovided, when a little forethought and care would save me much trouble ..."

Abigail Adams, 1791, New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1973)

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"The longer we live in the world, the more do troubles thicken upon us, yet we hug the fleeting shadow."

Abigail Adams, letter to her sister Mary Smith Cranch (1798), New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1947)

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"... when a spirit of private animosity is permitted to influence the mind, it always produces an illiberal conduct."

Abigail Adams, 1799, New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1973)

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"Every soul knows its own bitterness."

Abigail Adams, letter to her sister Mary Smith Cranch (1800), New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1973)

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"There is something always melancholy in the Idea of leaving a place for the last time. It is like burying a Friend."

Abigail Adams, 1800, New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 (1973)

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"I long to hear that you have declared an independency -- and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend."

Abigail Adams, letter to her husband, John Adams (1776), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 (1975)

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"Whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives. But ... notwithstanding all your wise laws and maxims we have it in our power not only to free ourselves but to subdue our masters, and without violence throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet."

Abigail Adams, letter to her husband, John Adams (1776), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 (1975)

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"Credulity and the Want of Foresight, are Imperfections in the human Character, that no Politician can sufficiently guard against."

Abigail Adams, letter to her husband, John Adams (1776), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 (1975)

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"I am happy in a daughter who is both a companion and an assistant in my Family affairs and who I think has a prudence and steadiness beyond her years."

Abigail Adams, to John Adams (1777), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 (1975)

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"Luxury that baneful poison has unstrung and enfeebled her [America's] sons. ... the Benevolent wish of general good is swallowed up by a Narrow selfish Spirit, by a spirit of oppression and extortion."

Abigail Adams, letter to her husband, John Adams (1779), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 (1975)

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"However kind sons may be disposed to be, they cannot be daughters to a Mother."

Abigail Adams, to John Adams (1784), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 (1975)

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"We have been a scattered family. If some of my Children could now be collected round the parent Hive it appears to me, that it would add much to the happiness of our declining Years."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams (1801), in Marie B. Hecht, John Quincy Adams (1995)

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"When ever I receive a Letter from you it seems to give new Springs to my nerves, and a brisker circulation to my Blood."

Abigail Adams, letter to Mary Cranch (1776), in William O. Foss, ed., First Ladies Quotations Book (1999)

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"Let me entreat you to write me more letters ... They are my food by day and my rest by night."

Abigail Adams, letter to her husband (1779), in William O. Foss, ed., First Ladies Quotations Book (1999)

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"... remember truth and justice have two ears."

Abigail Adams, letter to Elizabeth Shaw Peabody (1814), in William O. Foss, ed., First Ladies Quotations Book (1999)

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"... I always thought the laughing philosopher a much wiser man than the sniveling one ..."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams (1816), in Lynne Withey, Dearest Friend (2002)

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"I could not but lament, that the uncovered bosom should display what ought to have been veild, or that the well turned, and finely proportiond form, should not have been less conspicuous in the dance, from the thin drapery which coverd it. I wishd that more had been left to the imagination, and less to the Eye."

Abigail Adams, letter (1780), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Would that my ability was equal to my inclination."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams (1786), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Let us be just, and we shall not be miserable."

Abigail Adams, letter (1811), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Anticipated evils have often as much power over the mind as real ones. To guard against this imbecility of the mind an ancient Author observes 'that sufficient unto the day was the Evil thereof.'"

Abigail Adams, letter (1780), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Business once lost, does not easily return to the old hands."

Abigail Adams, letter (1815), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"The Stocks have fallen, I would not advise to selling out; nay if I had money to spair, I would vest it in them. I think they will rise again."

Abigail Adams, letter (1801), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"I congratulate you and my dear Niece upon the late happy event in your Family. Can you really believe that you are a Grandmamma? Does not the little fellow feel as if he was really your own? If he does not now, by that time you have lived a year with him, or near you, I question if you will be able to feel a difference."

Abigail Adams, letter (1790), in John P. Kaminski, ed., The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Whenever you come to have Grandchildren, you will scarcly know any difference between them & your own children, particularly if you should be under the same roof with them."

Abigail Adams, letter (1787), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"There is nothing that enlivens us so much as having these little creatures round us --"

Abigail Adams, letter (1790), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"I begin to think Grandparents not so well qualified to Educate Grandchildren as Parents. They are apt to relax in their Spirit of Government, and to be too indulgent."

Abigail Adams, letter (1808), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adam (2009)

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"Ironing is very bad for you."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams (1786), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"There is no music sweeter in the Ears of parents, than the well earned praises of their children."

Abigail Adams, letter (1787), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"I hope the rage for foreign conquest will not ever seize upon Americans."

Abigail Adams, letter (1815), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Every benevolent mind revolts at the Idea of Foreign powers forcing a Ruler upon a Nation, the majority of which reject him."

Abigail Adams, letter (1787), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"We want more Men of deeds, and fewer of Words."

Abigail Adams, letter (1797), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"The office of President has ever been stuck with thorns. It daily becomes a more difficult one to wield. A wise Man would find it a Herculean Task."

Abigail Adams, letter (1808), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"No Man has more of my compassion and commiseration than he who Stands upon the giddy height of the pinnacle."

Abigail Adams, letter (1811), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Ambition often over shoots the mark."

Abigail Adams, letter (1801), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"I should enjoy but little comfort in a state of idleness and uselessness."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Adams (1776), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"I detest still life -- and had rather be jostled, than inanimate."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Adams (1796), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"What cannot be help'd must be endured."

Abigail Adams, letter to John Adams (1777), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"My Heart is much larger than my purse."

Abigail Adams, letter (1790), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"When the people are fully inform'd and convinced of what is Right, they will execute, but the danger is, that from partial evidence, they will be led astray."

Abigail Adams, letter (1798), in John P. Kaminski, ed., The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"The Cold has been more severe than I can ever before recollect. It has frozen the ink in my pen, and chill'd the Blood in my veins."

Abigail Adams, letter (1797), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"May you never want either pleasure or amusement. We were made for active Life, and idleness and happiness are incompatible."

Abigail Adams, letter (1808), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"You must not stay so long as to not make your Friends twice glad."

Abigail Adams, letter (1810), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Heaven avert the dangers which threaten us, and as we reside in a glass House, may our politicians beware of throwing stones."

Abigail Adams, letter (1787), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"The Spirit of party has overpowered the Spirit of Patriotism."

Abigail Adams, letter (1801), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"The great object of the honest men of both parties should be to unite for the common good, and to cultivate a spirit of candour, liberality and harmony. Until that can be effected our country will be torn alternately by contending factions."

Abigail Adams, letter (1808), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Any pilot may Navigate in smooth water. He who can conduct a Ship in a Storm, tho he has harder labour, will feel more Satisfaction when he reflects, that his Labours have largely contributed to her Safety."

Abigail Adams, letter (1788), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Publick service becomes urksome to all men of talents and to men in Years who are worn out by continual opposition and by constant exertions to support order, Harmony and peace against ambition, disorder and anarchy."

Abigail Adams, letter (1798), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"I have seen and known that much of the conduct of a public ruler, is liable to be misunderstood and misrepresented."

Abigail Adams, letter (1804), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"The expectation makes the blessing sweet."

Abigail Adams, letter (1797), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Let me hear from you by every opportunity, as the correspondence of my Friends is the only compensation I can receive for the loss of their Society."

Abigail Adams, letter (1784), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Letters from my Friends are a cordial to my Soul."

Abigail Adams, letter (1785), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"No falsehoods ... have been thought too grose to palm upon the public."

Abigail Adams, letter (1800), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"William must continue to write. Tell him it is a habit the pleasure of which increases with practice, but becomes more irksome with neglect."

Abigail Adams, letter to her daughter (1808), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"May we ... be as ready to do justice as to receive it."

Abigail Adams, letter (1809), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"All revolutions are alike in many features."

Abigail Adams, letter (1801), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"What we wish, we are very apt to believe."

Abigail Adams, letter (1818), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"The Devil is always easier raisd than laid."

Abigail Adams, letter (1794), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Great deeds may be performed by a Small means."

Abigail Adams, letter (1813), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"Truths are not always to be spoken."

Abigail Adams, letter (1794), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams (2009)

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"I wish most sincerely there was not a slave in the province. It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me -- to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have. You know my mind upon this subject."

Abigail Adams, 1774, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"[During the Revolutionary War:] How many have fallen, we know not. The constant roar of the cannon is so distressing that we cannot eat, drink, or sleep. ... The spirit of the people are very good; the loss of Charlestown affects them no more than a drop in the bucket."

Abigail Adams, 1775, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"My pen is always freer than my tongue. I have written many things to you that I suppose I never could have talked."

Abigail Adams, 1775, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance."

Abigail Adams, 1775, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"I must entreat you to remember me often. I never think your letters half long enough."

Abigail Adams, 1776, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"'Tis four months wanting three days since we parted. Every day of the time I have mourned the absence of my friend, and felt a vacancy in my heart which nothing, nothing can supply. In vain the spring blooms or the birds sing. Their music has not its former melody, nor the spring its usual pleasures. I look around with a melancholy delight and sigh for my absent partner."

Abigail Adams, 1777, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"If our cause is just, it will be best supported by justice and righteousness. Though we have many other crimes to answer for, that of cruelty to our enemies is not chargeable upon Americans, and I hope never will be."

Abigail Adams, 1777, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"I know the voice of fame to be a mere weathercock, unstable as water and fleeting as a shadow."

Abigail Adams, 1781, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"Life takes its complexion from inferior things. It is little attentions and assiduities that sweeten the bitter draught and smooth the rugged road."

Abigail Adams, 1782, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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"... should I draw you the picture of my heart, it would be what I hope you still would love, though it contained nothing new. The early possession you obtained there, and the absolute power you have ever maintained over it, leave not the smallest space unoccupied. I look back to the early days of our acquaintance and friendship, as to the days of love and innocence, and with an indescribable pleasure I have seen near a score of years roll over our heads, with an affection heightened and improved by time; nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the image of the dear, untitled man to whom I gave my heart."

Abigail Adams, 1782, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (2003)

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Abigail Adams, U.S. first lady, letterwriter
(1744 - 1818)

Full name: Abigail Smith Adams.