Abigail Adams lived through and participated in the American Revolution. As the wife of John Adams, she used her position to famously remind Adams and his colleagues to “remember the ladies” when they created laws for the new, independent United States.
In this episode, Woody Holton, a Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of Abigail Adams: A Life, helps us explore a different, largely unknown aspect of Adams' life: Her financial investments.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin's World is a production of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
Woody Holton, a Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of Abigail Adams: A Life, leads us on an exploration of Abigail Adams’ life as a savvy financial investor.
During our exploration, Woody reveals how Abigail Adams became an investor and the types of opportunities she invested in; How investing allowed Adams to implement some of her ideas about how the law should treat women; And, details about how Adams viewed women and their place in American society during the mid-to-late 18th and early 19th centuries.
What You’ll Discover
- Abigail Adams and her accomplishments
- How Adams experienced the War for Independence as a married, but often single woman
- How Adams learned to manage her family’s finances
- Why Adams speculated in bonds during the American War for Independence
- The economy of revolutionary America
- Abigail Adams, goods importer
- Abigail Adams, land speculator
- Why Abigail worked to conceal her investments
- Details about Adams’ will
- Adams’ successes and failures as an investor
- Adams’ views on women
- Adams’ relationship with her daughter Abigail (Nabby)
- Adams as a parent
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Woody Holton
- Woody's University of South Carolina webpage
- Abigail Adams: A Life
- Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
- Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States
- John Adams by HBO Studios
- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812
- Sheila Skemp, Judith Sargent Murray: A Brief Biography with Documents
- Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815
- Adams Papers Editorial Project
- Massachusetts Historical Society
- Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
- Doing History: To the Revolution Series
- OI Reader
- Episode 007: Sara Georgini, John Adams & the Adams Papers Documentary Editing Project
- Episode 022: Vivian Bruce Conger, Deborah Read Franklin & Sally Franklin Bache
- Bonus: Why Historian’s Study History
- Episode 103: Sara Bon Harper, James Monroe & His Highland Estate
- Episode 131: Frank Cogliano, Thomas Jefferson’s Empire of Liberty
- Episode 145: Rosemarie Zagarri, Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution
Time Warp Question
In your opinion, what might have happened to the Adams family if Abigail had not invested in bonds, land, and goods during the War for Independence?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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