My Wife Abigail Adams, America’s First Modern Woman
Wethersfield, Conn. (August 12, 2013) –You may have missed this in history class: proto feminist Abigail Adams made huge profits while speculating in junk bonds during the Revolutionary War. At a time when married women weren’t allowed to own property, Abigail made a killing and left her family wealthy and debt free. Notably, this was during a period when many Revolutionary War figures were drowning in debt and financially ruined.
For the first time in Connecticut, Abigail Adams—savvy business woman, outspoken First Lady, and mother of the sixth American president, John Quincy Adams—will the remembered fondly by her greatest admirer, John Adams, the second president of the United States, as portrayed by the witty and engaging historical re-enactor, George Baker. The presentation, “My Wife Abigail Adams, America’s First Modern Woman,” will take place in the barn at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, in Wethersfield, on Thursday, October 3, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. The free presentation will be preceded by a wine reception (by donation) at 6:00 p.m.
As portrayed by Baker, President John Adams will reveal how the ever-audacious Abigail defied both law and conventional wisdom, and demonstrated unprecedented nerve. She waited two years for her father’s permission to marry "down" to John Adams, a lawyer and the son of a farmer. She instructed her husband to use his salary as an ambassador in Paris to buy wholesale goods and ship them home, where she sold them in war-time Boston. The first shipment, of 350 Barcelona handkerchiefs, sold in two weeks and generated so much profit that Abigail was able to buy the family a brand-new, top-of-the line carriage. Crafting her own revolution, of sorts, Abigail even drafted a will—unheard of at the time for a married woman—and left the bulk of her estate to 23 other married women, who, in turn, became property owners themselves. Notoriously, she would brag about her anti-British, revolutionary husband, telling people, "John is so ambitious, he is always the first in line to be hanged."
Baker will appear in the style of 18th-century clothing worn by President John Adams, and will perform several period or patriotic songs during his presentation: “God Save the King,” “Yankee Doodle,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and “America, I Gave My Best to You. ”
Inspired by reading David McCullough's biography, “John Adams,” Baker has been playing the role of John Adams since 2008. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Columbia Law School and is a practicing attorney in Connecticut.
About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Museum consists of three authentically restored 18th-century homes that bring Wethersfield’s rich history to life, from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. The museum includes the 1752 Joseph Webb House, which served as George Washington’s Revolutionary War headquarters in May 1781, when he met with French General le comte de Rochambeau; the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for a delegate to the Continental Congress and America’s first diplomat to France; and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House, which depicts life in the 18th and 19th centuries through original family objects and includes a fascinating children’s exhibit.
The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, located at 211 Main St., Wethersfield, is open April 1-30 on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. From May through October, the museum is open daily - with the exception of Tuesday - from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays ,1 to 4 p.m. Admission for the 60-minute, three-house tour: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, students, AAA members and active military, and $5 for students and children ages 5 to 18. For more information call (860) 529-0612, ext. 12, or visit www.webb-deane-stevens.org