Thursday, July 23, 2009

A lesson from the past

I have been reading a new book on John and Abigail Adams ... I admit, I've never known much .. or thought much about Abigail. But this book has given me a new appreciation for her, and what she faced.

John Adams was away for years, first in Philadelphia as the Revolution began, later as an envoy to France and to Amsterdam. Framing a new government wasn't exactly a well-paying position, and it didn't help that Adams had given up his law practice to deal with colonial matters.

So it fell on Abigail to not only raise their children, but keep the family afloat financially.

She rented out the family farm and went into business for herself. She speculated in currency (apparently quite popular in that time), and purchased land (in her husband's name, since she couldn't legally own land.)

When Adams went to France, she asked him to send items that she could sell: chocolate, tea, fabric. Her market was the Bostonians who had become wealthy by profiting from the wartime economy. After a while, she began to deal directly with European merchants, bypassing her DH altogether. (Imagine what she could have done with eBay!)

Her intent was not to become wealthy, but to keep the family housed, clothed and fed without going into debt ... something a frugal New Englander abhorred.

I can't help but compare this to something else I read -- a recent news story about how, as the economy stays sour, more women have had to become the breadwinners for their families.

Doesn't seem all that different, does it?

1 comment:

Jackie said...

DW, my mom used to say the more things change, the more they stay the same. Guess she was right.

God bless.