Forgive me for this digression, but as Valentine’s Day approaches I felt compelled to write about a romantically themed topic. This requires me to admit a weakness. So here goes: I am such a sap when it comes to love letters. Since my own beloved expresses his emotions verbally (I’m not complaining) and rarely in writing, I have to occasionally fulfill this need by reading love letters written by others for others. Thank goodness the Internet offers a multitude of websites devoted to publishing¬ love letters written by famous people.
One of the loveliest love stories documented in letters is an American love story. John and Abigail Adams exchanged more than 1,100 letters beginning with their courtship in 1762 and continuing through his long political career, which culminated with his presidency, 1797 – 1801. They were married for 54 years, and many of their letters are archived on the website of the Massachusetts Historical Society (www.masshist.org ) One need only read a few of them to appreciate the love this founding father had for his wife and she for him.
In a letter written during their courtship, John Adams expressed his longing to see Abigail:
“Oh my dear Girl, I thank Heaven that another Fortnight will restore you to me—after so long a separation. My soul and Body have both been thrown into Disorder by your Absence, and a month or two more would make me the most insufferable Cynick in the World.” (September 30, 1764).
Their love endured throughout the years and even strengthened. In a letter written to her husband on December 23, 1782, nearly twenty years into their marriage, Abigail wrote:
“I look back to the early days of our acquaintance and friendship as to the days of love and innocence, and with an indescribable pleasure, I have seen near a score of years roll over our heads with an affection heightened and improved by time. . .”
To enjoy more of the historic correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, visit www.masshist.org.
### Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.