Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison-Founding
Our logo incorporates images of Abigail
Adams and Dolley Madison, Founding
Mothers for the United States, for they represent two major
lifestyles American women have pursued. Abigail Adams was a noted
bluestocking, deeply interested in the major issues of her time,
and married to John Adams, America's second president.
Abigail asked her husband, John, to "remember the ladies"
when the Founding Fathers drafted the
U.S. Constitution. She insisted women should have equality
in the constitution, saying in a letter dated March 31, 1776,
"Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular
care and attention is not paid to the Laidies [sic] we are determined
to foment a Rebelion [sic], and will not hold ourselves bound
by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation."
But John refused to include women in the constitution. The only
supporter of women's suffrage among the Founding Fathers was Aaron
Would giving women equal rights including the vote at this time
have been too divisive an issue for this young republic? This
question has been asked with regard to ending slavery, and answered
in the affirmative because of the power of the Southern vote.
But equal rights for American women was possible at that
time, and by deferring this issue, American women had to fight
many uphill battles before winning the vote in 1920. The
American people owe a great debt to Abigail for her early advocacy
of this crucial cause. America has yet
to pass the Equal Rights Amendmentfirst put forth in 1923.
We see this very same issue on the table in Iraq today,
and this time there is no question that women's equality must
be guaranteed. To fail to do this will simply lead to Iraqi women's
suppression, and disgrace to the United States and Great Britain,
for we have stood for democracy and must continue to do
so, or destabilize this region.
What Abigail Adams said in 1776 is even more true today, and
this time there is no going back, or waffling on women's issues
if we wish to have stable international relations over the long
run. We must make long-term commitments to women's human rights
and keep them. Why should the women of Iraq have less than
they had before and less than women have in the United States,
Great Britain, and other parts of the world? Iraqi women are 65
percent of the population, so affirmative action would ensure
their full citizenship, removing their minority status.
The Adams's marriage was nontraditional, based on deep, shared
interests in the leading ideas of that time. Both people were
enormously intelligent and well informed. They shaped their time
and ours by helping create the institutions by which generations
of Americans have lived.
Dolley Madison married James Madison, the principal builder
of the U.S. Constitution adopted in 1787, and the man who
became America's fourth president. He contracted panic disorder
and agoraphobia in 1771 not long after graduating from
Princeton. These were partly precipitated by the fact that he
had finished the course work for his B.A. in three years instead
of four. The death of a close friend was the other major precipitating
Agoraphobia consists of panic attacks that occur on leaving
places or persons of safety. Panic disorder has panic attacks
that occur without regard to context. Both conditions can be quite
disabling if the environment is unfavorable to their control.
Thomas Jefferson too suffered from a complex (as opposed
to a simple) phobia, and what he had is known as social phobia.
He had great difficulty speaking in public and kept away from
contentious gatherings. Nonetheless he was a very able president,
diplomat and writer.
Complex phobias involve networks of fears, whereas a simple phobia
involves one fear, such as a fear of spiders, thunder, the number
13. Complex phobias are quite difficult to treat.
The Madison marriage was not a love match at first, for though
James loved Dolley, she did not love James. As a young widow with
a young son to support, she considered her situation carefully
and when James proposed marriage, she chose him because he was
financially stable and well positioned in society. However, since
he was such a fine person, enormously considerate of her and intelligent,
Dolley fell in love with him. His nature and manners won her heart.
Though their marriage was based on a union of different life styles,
it was as solid as the Adams's marriage.
Dolley carried out the conventional role of wife by supporting
James's career completely. James dictated many documents to Dolley
to write up for his presidential papers. A great hostess, Dolley's
parties were legendary and she was so well liked by the politicians
of her day that they gave her an honorary seat in Congress. She
was famous for her hats, which brightened the times. Such marks
of taste and originality contribute essential ingredients to dynamic,
These two people were equals, true partners, as were Abigail and
John. Dolley's enormous social intelligence was extremely useful
to her, James, and the United States. James knew how to create
durable political institutions which we inhabit to this day.
It is interesting to reflect on how these two different marriage
styles worked out, because both created a great deal of happiness
for the couples. Their marriages had a great impact on American
history. It should not be forgotten that Dolley took infinite
pains to shield James from the terrible effects of his panic attacks,
those primary hallmarks of panic disorder and agoraphobia. Without
her insight and total dedication, America would not have had the
use of James's enormous talent. America owes a great debt to both
Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison
are Women for All Seasons.
Full citizenship for women is on
the table in Iraq today. Women's equality in Iraq must be guaranteed
or Iraqi women will be suppressed, and that will disgrace the
United States and Great Britain who stand for democracy.
If we wish to have stable
international relations we must make long-term commitments to
women's human rights worldwide and keep them. The women of Iraq
must have more rights, not fewer, than they had before the war.
Women in Iraq make up 65 percent of the population, so let's bring
in affirmative action. Why should Iraq's women have minority status
in their own country?
Thomas Jefferson, a friend
of John Adams and James Madison, had social phobia and could barely
speak in public or face contentious gatherings. But he wrote the
Declaration of Independence, and made a great president and diplomat.
Dolley Madison shielded James from
the effects of his panic attacks, and without her insight and
total dedication, James's talent would have been lost to America.