Abigail Adams' Letter to John Quincy Adams: Rhetorical Analysis

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Words: 902 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jun 9, 2021

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Words: 902|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jun 9, 2021

Abigail Adams’ Letter To John Quincy Adams: Rhetorical Analysis
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The essay analyzes the influence and persuasive skills of Abigail Adams through her letters to her husband and son. Abigail Adams, a remarkably articulate woman, used her correspondence to impact people positively. She notably referred to her husband, John Adams, as "my friend" in her letters, avoiding direct mention of his name, which prevented accusations of feeding him information. Her letters have become historical artifacts found in today's history books, attesting to her significance. Abigail Adams was an advocate for various issues, including slavery, female equality, and taxation.

The essay specifically delves into her letter to her son, John Quincy Adams, who later became a U.S. President. In this letter, Abigail effectively encourages and alleviates her son's fears about his journey to France. She employs literary devices such as allusion and imagery and appeals to both emotion and logic to emphasize the importance of experience. She assures him that this journey will enrich his knowledge and character and help him understand the challenges faced by his nation.

Table of contents

  1. Prompt Examples for Rhetorical Analysis Essay on Abigail Adams
  2. Abigail Adams Essay Example
  3. Works Cited

Prompt Examples for Rhetorical Analysis Essay on Abigail Adams

  • Rhetorical Appeals: Analyze the rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, and pathos) employed by Abigail Adams in her letter to John Quincy Adams, and assess how they contribute to the persuasive power of her message.
  • Tone and Language: Examine the tone and language used in the letter, considering how Abigail Adams strategically selects words and phrases to convey her intentions and connect with her son.
  • Context and Audience: Discuss the historical context of the letter and the intended audience (John Quincy Adams) to explore how Abigail Adams tailors her rhetoric to address her son's unique situation and responsibilities.
  • Persuasive Strategies: Identify the specific persuasive strategies employed by Abigail Adams, such as appeals to duty, patriotism, and familial bonds, and analyze their effectiveness in achieving her goals.
  • Legacy and Influence: Reflect on the legacy of Abigail Adams' letter and its lasting influence on the relationship between parents and children, as well as its impact on American history and the feminist movement.

Abigail Adams Essay Example

Abigail Adams was a woman that was very articulate and had a huge influence on people. She became influential through the letters that she wrote to her husband and son. She was smart enough not to mention her husband by name in the letters but “my friend”. No one could say she was feeding him information since his name was not writing on the letter. Abigail Adams was so articulate and influential that her letters made into history, we can see them in the history books we read today. She was very vocal about problems surrounding slavery, female equality and even taxation.

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In Abigail Adams’ letter to her son, John Quincy Adams, who would later become President of the United States, she is able to continuously encourage and ease his fears and uncertainties concerning the dangers he may face on his travel abroad to France with his father, a United States diplomat. She reassures and urges her son that this journey is one that he should take complete advantage of, as it is one that will benefit him greatly. In the aspect of expanding his mind with knowledge and wisdom when acting as a witness towards the challenges, he will face and have to learn from. By applying the use of allusion, imagery and appealing to her audience’s emotions and logical appeal to the situation. Adams is able to effectively convey her persistence on the importance of experience to her son while he is on his travels by also maintaining a persistent and encouraging tone.

Adams opens her letter with the acknowledgment that her son, John Quincy Adams, was hesitant towards making the far and important voyage with his father and brother due to the “enemies or the dangers of the sea” that he may encounter throughout the journey. She is quick to contradict the thought and reminds her son that he wouldn’t have “readily submitted” to her advice to go if she didn’t think he would be favorable in partaking in the journey. She is able to demonstrate her use of allusion when illuminating how he will grow greatly by the experiences he will face with his new independence when traveling. She is able to describe how his journey will go when recalling an author representing the “traveler to a river” and how when it flows it will “improve their qualities as they pass along”. Suggesting to her son that with this journey he should take complete advantage of it in the aspect of expanding and enriching his mind through what he witnesses. Adamas is able to further confidence in her son with her example of Cicero and the hardships of being “roused, kindled, and inflamed by the tyranny of Catiline, Verres, and Mark Antony” but was able to succeed. This allowed for reassurance that this choice of going on the journey was not a mistake but an opportunity for him that he should use to benefit him in the future in order to allow growth.

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She is able to further convince her son that he made no mistake in going on this diplomatic journey by boosting his self-esteem and informing him of what she expects from him to learn on this journey and in order to spread his ideas and better the country. Him being able to accomplish this by being an “an eyewitness of these calamities” on his journey with his father. The calamities being those of “War, tyranny, and desolation” throughout his country and those he will visit. Abigail recognizes her son’s potential in having a successful future, by making it seem that him learning from this journey is his patriotic duty to his country; “to owe your existence among a people who have made a glorious defense of their invaded liberties”. She is able to convince him that these advantages will be possible “under the instructive eye of a tender parent”, and to pay close attention to his surroundings by learning from them. which will allow him to grow and learn in order to have a promising future.

Throughout her letter she is able to give credibility to her argument by her use of a maternal tone to her son. When opening the letter with “My dear son”, she reassures him on his fears and expresses her concern for his safety and hesitance when expressing that she “should have not urged you to accompany your father and brother when you appeared so averse to the voyage”; if she had not thought that he would use this experience to his advantage. She is able to guilt him into feeling better about his hesitance when she encourages him that she believes he will not disappoint her as it “will be expected of you”, to not ignore the advantageous opportunities that are being offered to him on this new journey. Enticing a sense of pride and duty for her son, when Adams informs him that this won’t just benefit him greatly but it would also bring benefits and “honor” to his country. She then furthers her claim when aligning herself with her son’s values and devotion when she goes on to explain that this will also “render your parents supremely happy”, creating the sense of joy and pride for her son to be able to make his parents proud, especially his mother by following her given advice. This by understanding the importance of experience and how it will benefit him immensely to learn from what he will encounter when it is extremely dangerous or just a learning opportunity.

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In Abigail Adams’ letter to her son, John Quincy Adams, she was able to effectively convey her persistence on the importance of furthering his knowledge through new experiences he will encounter on his journey. She is able to use to her advantage that she is his mother, in order to ease his mind on her advice to him. On being able to learn from all that he will see, and on how these events will allow for him to grow wiser with the gained knowledge of his travels.

Works Cited

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  3. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2021). Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide.
  4. Koob, G. F. (2015). The neurobiology of addiction: a neuroadaptational view relevant for diagnosis. Addiction, 110(1), 4-13. doi:10.1111/add.12723
  5. Volkow, N. D., & Morales, M. (2015). The Brain on Drugs: From Reward to Addiction. Cell, 162(4), 712-725. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.07.046
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Health Consequences of Drug Misuse.
  7. Macgowan, M. J., & Engle, B. (2010). Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents: How Well Are We Meeting Their Needs? Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 7(1-2), 157-173. doi:10.1080/15433710903218414
  8. Philippine Statistics Authority. (2020). Philippine Statistics Authority.
  9. Human Rights Watch. (2019). License to Kill: Philippine Police Killings in Duterte's "War on Drugs".
  10. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2019). World Drug Report 2019.
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Abigail Adams’ Letter To John Quincy Adams: Rhetorical Analysis. (2022, April 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“Abigail Adams’ Letter To John Quincy Adams: Rhetorical Analysis.” GradesFixer, 24 Apr. 2022,
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