Abigail Adams was by no means unique to her time in that she practiced the art of letter writing, but because of her station in American history as First Lady, hers is one of the most easily accessible lives to examine when looking at the art of correspondence.
There are at least three things we can gain from looking at her life and writings:
The Importance of Time
Time was worth spending on those she loved and cared about. Many that Mrs. Adams wrote to were a great distance away, whether due to business, education, or living arrangements. To correspond with such friends and family took both time and intentionality, and reflected the moments both desired to spend face to face and yet were prevented by the circumstances of life.
The Importance of Words
The letters of Abigail Adams provide a rich and deep grasp of language and literature; in other words, her letters were a reflection of craftsmanship. Some say that Abigail went through multiple drafts of a single letter, sometimes even having her sons edit and amend, just because she desired to make the best use of her words, to be concise, vivid, and clear in order to not waste the time of the recipient.
The Importance of People
Each and every correspondent of Abigail Adams felt as though her letters were meant for him or her. They felt known and loved because Abigail truly did care. “My bursting heart must find vent at my pen,” she bemoaned because she felt that every soul she wrote to deserved a genuine and caring response. People matter, relationships matter, and the best way for Abigail Adams to communicate so passionate a belief was for her to actually take the time, to craft the words, and to tell them she cared.
What We Learn Through Letter Writing
A great deal of learning can be gained through rediscovering the Art of Letter writing. For students especially there are so many advantages:
- relationships can be richly renewed or begun
- grammar, punctuation, and syntax can be developed
- handwriting skills can be creatively mastered
How to Apply These Lessons
Here are some ways you can implement letter writing with your child:
- Have your child write a letter to the parent that works away from home, sharing with the parent what he or she did during the day while mom or dad was working.
- Have your child write to grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins to share what they are learning about in school.
- Become a Pen Pal with an orphan through Compassion