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By Janet Hubbard-Brown

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The following day, the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson, was announced. ”14 Abigail was elated over the news of the signing. She had reminded her husband to “remember the ladies,” which became one of her most famous quotations. The underlying meaning of her request has been debated ever since. Did she want equal rights for women to be enshrined in the declaration? Or was she asking that men not have so much power over their wives? Scholars continue to debate her meaning. Abigail was also concerned about slavery and even wondered if it had brought on the horrors of war and disease as God’s punishment for America.

The couple had lived together fairly consistently during the first decade of their marriage, from 1764 to 1774, though Abigail had expressed to her friend Mercy Warren in 1776 that out of 12 years of marriage, she thought they had not lived together more than six. Abigail was by nature an optimist, but that did not mean she did not struggle with loneliness and anger. She felt at times that women were not acknowledged for their sacrifices and patriotic services. She often referred to herself as a widow or an orphan.

The convention eventually adopted his draft of the constitution, which remains the oldest constitution continuously in use. In 1779, after he had been home just three months, the Continental Congress named John the minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, to negotiate peace and commerce treaties. He and Abigail agreed that he had to go, but this time he took not only John Quincy but also nine-year-old Charles. It was a difficult journey. They arrived in Spain on a leaky ship named the Sensible, and from there they journeyed across northern Spain and over the Pyrenees to Paris.

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