Public Program- Joseph J. Ellis

Lectures and Performances
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 (All day)

"American Love Story: Abigail and John" by Joseph J. Ellis

book cover for First Family: Abigail and John Adams

In this lecture, Joseph J. Ellis recounts one of the most remarkable partnerships in all of American history. The friendship and love of John and Abigail Adams is contained in the letters they left behind, nearly twelve hundred of which still exist today. Only exchanged when the couple was separated by the call of patriotic duty, the letters are a remarkable source on several accounts. John and Abigail's discussions on raising their children, their home finances, and their marriage give a vivid glimpse into the private world of an eighteenth-century family. But as much as they are domestic, the letters are also political. Together, John and Abigail illustrate the challenges of effecting and winning a Revolution, negotiating peace, and instituting and implementing a federal Constitution.all while trying to keep their marriage strong and their family united.

Based on his latest book, First Family: Abigail and John Adams, Ellis draws upon these sources to study the relationship of this dynamic couple, analyzing how and why their friendship prevailed even in times of doubt and distress. Professor Ellis reveals that the combination of commitment, honesty, and loyalty that made John and Abigail's marriage a success also played a significant role in the triumph of the Revolution and the early government.

Joseph J. Ellis is Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. He has written a number of award-winning books on early American politics, including His Excellency: George Washington, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, and Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. Professor Ellis has appeared in a number of documentaries, including "John and Abigail [Adams]" for PBS's The American Experience, and his essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.

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