Abigail Adams, Investor

By Jeremy Dibbell

Historian (and 2003-04 MHS research fellow) Woody Holton had an essay in Sunday’s Washington Post, “On Money, a Founding Mother Knows Best.” He writes “If you were to hire Abigail Adams as your financial adviser, here’s the advice that the Massachusetts matriarch would offer,” and provides ten pieces of financial wisdom drawn from Adams’ experiences and correspondence. I think my favorite might be the eighth, which Holton describes as “Prevent your spouse from keeping a close eye on you. One of Abigail’s favorite techniques was the cover letter. Since John had no compunction about opening his wife’s incoming mail but considered letters received by Abigail Junior to be sacrosanct, Abigail sometimes asked her correspondents to enclose their messages for her inside letters to her daughter.”

Holton is the author of “Abigail Adams, Bond Speculator” in the October 2007 William & Mary Quarterly, and his biography of Abigail Adams (Abigail Adams: A Life) will be published by Free Press in November 2009.