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The Coming of the American Revolution: 1764 to 1776

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Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 21-22 July 1776

Composite reference image showing three manuscript pages

From the Adams Family Papers
The transcription of this letter is featured on the Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive website.
Online display of the letter.

"Cheers which rended the air"
Without informing John, who is far away in Philadelphia, Abigail has decided to trust her health and that of their children to the new smallpox inoculation. Miles away, John waits eagerly for every slow-traveling letter. He hopes for good news of his family, but also anticipates her report of Boston's reception of the great Declaration which has been issued by the Continental Congress.

Questions to Consider

1. Why is Abigail reproaching John in her letter?

Further Exploration

2. How are the celebrations in Boston similar to John's vision in his letter from 3 July? [Click here to read John letter to Abigail, 3 July 1776.]

3. King Street has become a symbolic place in Boston. What past events contributed to its fame? Locate it on a map of revolutionary Boston and then modern Boston. What is the street called now? How does this reflect Abigail Adams' description of the events of Thursday, 18 July?

4. Research the history of small pox inoculation. Why is this so important to Abigail? What is the local connection between Boston and inoculation? Are there any traces of that history left in modern Boston?

5. What is the conspiracy to kill Washington to which Abigail refers?

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