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Great Onelers in History: Abigail Adams April 13, 2010

Posted by Onely in Honorary Onely Awards.
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Ok, technically Abigail Adams was married. But Lisa and I believe that married people can be Onely too–they just have to work a little harder at it maintaining their independence. Abigail Adams paid her Onely dues, at a time when Onely just wasn’t done.

Her husband John was one of the U.S.’ “Founding Fathers”, the second president, and generally a busy statesman who was away on business–sometimes across the Atlantic ocean–for much of their marriage, while Abigail ran the estate and managed their finances. They seem to have had a respectful and affectionate union, and John trusted her investment sense, which turned out to be far more acute than his.

Even though she had no legal right to John’s money or property, she put aside funds for her own use/payment, telling him she was doing so, as if it were the most natural thing in the world–at a time when such actions were not at all natural. She accumulated a good amount of wealth that she willed to a number of her female friends and descendants, even though she had no legal right to compose such a document. Her husband honored the will, even though he didn’t have to. Therefore, we decree that John Adams is an Honorary Oneler as well.

I got all this info from a great article by Woody Holton in American History magazine.

Copious Readers, do you know married people who defied the conventions of their time (past or present) and should be named Honorary Onelers?


Photo credit: Adams National Historic Park; Gilbert Stuart


1. autonomous - April 14, 2010

You are so right that Abigail Adams was a brave, intelligent woman in her own right! She and John Adams also spent most of their married life apart. When the British marched through, she was at the farm in Braintree with their children, and I think John was in France. And because of mail delays of sometimes months, she had to make most decisions herself though she and John communicated prodigiously. They had a terrific mutual respect for each other and he defied convention and relied upon her input during his entire legal and political life.

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