A former President wrote some saucy letters to his future wife that may make you blush. No scandal here, just some old-fashioned schmoopery from 250 years ago.
John Adams, America’s second President, wrote several letters to Abigail Smith (her maiden name) during their courtship in 1762.
It’s hard to interpret the cursive thoughts inked on this preserved canvas, but it reads:
By the same Token that the Bearer hereof satt up with you last night I hereby order you to give him, as many Kisses, and as many Hours of your Company after 9 O’Clock as he shall please to Demand and charge them to my Account: This Order, or Requisition call it which you will is in Consideration of a similar order Upon Aurelia for the like favour, and I presume I have good Right to draw upon you for the Kisses as I have given two or three Millions at least, when one has been received, and of Consequence the Account between us is immensely in favour of yours,John AdamsOctr. 4th. 1762″
The Adams-Smith courtship lasted several years, and it included a six month separation for a smallpox inoculation Adams submitted himself to voluntarily. During the long months away, they pair developed pet names for each other (as was the custom of the time); Abigail was Diana, after the Roman goddess of the moon, and John was Lysander, after the Spartan war hero.
In 1764 he penned this gem, and we skipped to the fourth page to get to the good stuff:
“My Dear Diana…
… 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 of two more would make me the most insufferable Cynick, in the World. I see nothing but Faults, Follies, Frailties and Defects in any Body, lately. People have lost all their good Properties or I my justice, or Discernment.
But you who have always softened and warmed my Heart, shall restore my Benevolence as well as my Health and Tranquility of mind. You shall polish and refine my sentiments of Life and Manners, banish all the unsocial and ill natured Particles in my Composition, and form me to that happy Temper, that can reconcile a quick Discernment with a perfect Candour.
Believe me, now & ever yr. faithfulLysander”
Adams often addressed his letters to “Dear Adorable” or “My dear Diana,” but Abigail wrote, as she would for the rest of her life to “My Dearest Friend.”
It’s worth a click to read a few more of the love letters on the Massachusetts Historical Society web site. Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, a reference librarian with the society, told TheBlaze that in her seven years working in the library the Adams family correspondence, “most especially John and Abigail Adams’ letters, consistently inspire emotional connection for researchers and the public.”
“I think there is something particularly powerful about the intimate letters and diaries of individuals who lived before us, often so contemporary-feeling (despite outmoded turns of phrase) in their descriptions of daily and emotional life,” Clutterbuck-Cook said. “John and Abigail’s love letters continue to be published and republished, read widely, and shared at public history events through dramatic readings and display.”
But reading these flirtatious notes from the future President Adams may raise a high bar: no men in 2014 can complain they “don’t have enough time” to send a note – we are spoiled with time and technology. Take a note from Mr. Adams, guys. Sit down to write her a letter (or – if you must – an email); I guarantee she’ll appreciate is as much as Abigail Adams did.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.