“Letters written in the domestic intercourse of families”

Breaking my own guidelines for this blog, which usually consists of the writings of women from the years 1765 to 1799, today’s post includes some lines written by John Quincy Adams after reading some of his sister Nabby’s correspondence in 1841. (She died in of breast cancer in 1813.) I do think he expresses well how family correspondence conveys the spirit of the writers and the times in which they lived.

Letters written in the domestic intercourse of families are necessarily much diversified as to the subjects upon which they are written, as to the circumstances to which they relate, to the incidents which they record, and to the state of mind, of health, and of temper with which they are composed. Strangers or even members of the family of the writer, who after a lapse of years, read several of them in immediate succession, can scarcely enter into the spirit with which they are animated, but by reading a few of them at once and by alternately laying by and taking [them] up again.

Paul C. Nagel The Adams Women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, Their Sisters and Daughters (Oxford University Press: New York, 1987), p 300. The engraving of John Quincy Adams is from the 1869 $500 series of U.S. currency.

posted October 20th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Adams, John Quincy, Health, Letter-writing, Smith, Abigail "Nabby" Adams


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