June 6, 2019 by Carol Britton Meyer
Hingham Historical Society is partnering with the Abigail Adams Historical Society to present a talk by renowned historian and Abigail Adams biographer Edith Gelles entitled "Frozen in Time: Portraits of Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren " -- considered by many to be the two most famous women of Revolutionary America.
Gelles edited the Library of America edition of "Abigail Adams: Letters" and also wrote two biographies of Adams -- "Portia: World of Abigail Adams" and "Abigail Adams: A Writing Life" in addition to a double biography, "Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage."
Adams was both the wife and the mother of two Presidents of the United States. Warren, known as the first significant American woman historian, wrote an eyewitness account of the American Revolution. The two women met during their younger years and corresponded with each other throughout their lives.
"A lot of people don't realize how brilliant and influential Abigail Adams was," said AAHS Board member John Dennehy. "She interacted with kings and queens and could debate and talk with her husband as his equal."
At the same time Abigail tended to the domestic tasks at hand -- running the household, tending their farm, and caring for their five children while her husband traveled far as wide. "She also gave him sound political advice," Dennehy said. "She had a keen mind, understood politics, and was a good judge of character. She was likely his most trusted advisor. She was the rock that held their family together."
The event will take place at Ames Chapel, 12 South St., in Hingham Thursday, June 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
This program is part of a year-long series of special events planned by organizations partnering with AAHS to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Adams' death last October and the 275th anniversary of her birth in November 2019.
"Weymouth has this gem -- Abigail's birthplace -- and people don't know much about it," Dennehy said. "There are so many incredible unknown historic sites in our communities. We would like to establish closer ties with Hingham, Weymouth, Quincy, and other cities and towns to spread this message and to let people know about the treasures that are in their backyards and in neighboring communities."
HHS Registrar and Collections Manager Michael Achille, who is on the board of directors for the AAHS and Birthplace in Weymouth, had this to say about the event: "This is a rare, East Coast appearance by Gelles who is a nationally-respected, award-winning Abigail Adams historian. If anyone has ever been curious to learn more about Abigail and her connections to this area there has never been a better time or person to talk to about that subject. Anyone interested in art history, the American Revolution period, local history, women's history, etc. will be delighted by this talk."
Achille pointed to the "intimate and personal setting of the Ames Chapel, wine and refreshments, and the chance to speak with the author directly and purchase a signed copy of one of her books" as a unique opportunity for history buffs.
There's also a direct Hingham link. "Richard Cranch (Abigail's brother-in-law) and Cotton Tufts (John Adams' cousin) were both early Trustees of Derby Academy, so there is a strong family connection between Abigail and the school," Achille said. He is also local history librarian for the Hingham Public Library.
"It has been a joy to serve on the AAHS Board, and this event gives us an opportunity to raise money to support many aspects of our annual programming as well as much needed maintenance of the Birthplace -- a nationally significant icon of early American history," Achille said. "We're a small organization with an active and engaged board that is dedicated to the stewardship and preservation of this treasured homestead. But like any non-profit, we can only accomplish our goals through the support of members and the community. Attending this special event will have a meaningful and direct impact on AAHS's ability to continue to maintain the home and offer tours, programming, and more to schools and the public."
In addition, Achille said, "Abigail Adams' Birthplace [in East Weymouth] is a great place to take a short trip to this summer."
Tickets are $35 each or $60 for two. Pre-registration is recommended at abigailadamsbirthplace.org.
The AAHS is dedicated to commemorating and educating a worldwide audience about the extraordinary life and times of Abigail Smith Adams and her legacy of service to our country. Other board members include Judy Alukonis, Michelle Coughlin, and Cathy Torrey.