Transcending Time: A Snail-Mail Saturday Featuring Abigail Adams

Dearest Friend,

The Day: perhaps the decisive Day is come on which the fate of America depends – my bursting Heart must find vent at my pen…

It is three o’clock on Sunday, June 18, 1775. Thirty-year-old Abigail Adams is penning a letter to her “dearest friend”, her husband John. She must somehow share the news that their friend, young Dr. Samuel Warrren, was killed in the battle that began yesterday morning on Bunker’s Hill. That battle is not over yet. How could her heart not be bursting with emotions and concern for friends and the future of the thirteen colonies?

Fast forward. It is June __, 2015. America won her independence from Britain long ago, but American women (and women everywhere) still face struggles, loss, and uncertainty of both friends and country. These concerns transcend time. Abigail’s words could be shared (albeit perhaps in different phrasing) by any woman of the 21st-century.

And, yet, as we step back to June 18, 1775 to again peek over Abigail’s shoulder, a question comes to mind: how does she respond to the unknown future? [The original spelling and punctuation have been maintained. Remember, Noah Webster’s dictionary came out in 1828.]

The race is not to the Swift, nor the battle to the Strong – but the God of Israel is he who giveth Strength and power unto his people. Trust in him at all times ye people pour out your hearts before him. God is a refuge for us…

The last two sentences quote Psalm 62, a passage I have gone to often like Abigail apparently did centuries before me. Although that psalm was written thousands of years before both of our times, it has lost none of its significance through the ages.

Someday my words will probably not be remembered, and even Abigail’s may vanish from the written record, but I believe these Scripture words will prevail. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away,” Jesus said (Matthew 24:35, ESV). Those are words that truly transcend time.

When everything in life seems unstable, who wouldn’t want something solid like that to hold to? Time will tell if it’s worth the faith.

This post begins a mini-series focused on America’s War for Independence. A favorite resource on this era and my source for the text of Abigail’s letter is 1776: The Illustrated Edition by David McCullough. Within its pages, you can find removable facsimiles of documents significant to America’s founding, including one of Abigail’s June 18th letter (see page 40). 

Perhaps we will pay another visit to Mrs. Adams. If you have thoughts on her or a favorite book or resource, please drop me a note! 

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