The Election of 1796: Abigail Adams’ Sacrifice
Abigail Adams, a Massachusetts housewife and intellectual, received a letter in January 1796 from her husband, John Adams, the first Vice President of the United States (Parks 1). “In perfect Secrecy between You and me,” he wrote, “I must tell you that I now believe the P. will retire” (Adams, 7 January 1796).
Abigail thought over the implications of his words. In 1788, her husband had aimed for the presidency but lost to George Washington, who earned more than twice as many votes. With a second-place finish, Adams had to settle for the vice-presidency, and he spent much of his two terms away from his Massachusetts home (Sawyer 87). Frustrated by “Political Chess,” he wished for more power to communicate with Congress and complained that the House of Representatives wasted his time (J. Adams, 15 January 1796 1).
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