A View from Abroad
The Story of John and Abigail Adams in Europe
Published by: NYU Press
11 b/w illustrations
- ISBN: 9781479802883
- Published: February 2021
Reveals how the European travels of John and Abigail Adams helped define what it meant to be an American
From 1778 to 1788, the Founding Father and later President John Adams lived in Europe as a diplomat. Joined by his wife, Abigail, in 1784, the two shared rich encounters with famous heads of the European royal courts, including the ill-fated King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette, and the staid British Monarchs King George III and Queen Charlotte.
In this engaging narrative, A View from Abroad takes us on the first full exploration of the Adams’s lives abroad. Jeanne E. Abrams reveals how the journeys of John and Abigail Adams not only changed the course of their intellectual, political, and cultural development—transforming the couple from provincials to sophisticated world travelers—but most importantly served to strengthen their loyalty to America.
Abrams shines a new light on how the Adamses and their American contemporaries set about supplanting their British origins with a new American identity. They and their fellow Americans grappled with how to reorder their society as the new nation took its place in the international transatlantic world. After just a short time abroad, Abigail maintained that, “My Heart and Soul is more American than ever. We are a family by ourselves.” The Adamses’ quest to define what it means to be an American, and the answers they discovered in their time abroad, still resonate with us to this day.
A fine history of John Adams’ years in Europe from 1778 to 1788 (Abigail joined him in 1784)...Insightful and satisfying history. ~Kirkus Reviews
In the first book devoted specifically to the Adamses' life abroad, Jeanne E. Abrams has weaved a compelling tale of their first encounters with European culture, politics, and society. Significantly, neither John nor Abigail was seduced by the charms of the Old World. Both came away from their foreign adventures more firmly committed than ever to a belief in American exceptionalism and the importance of the young United States within the world of nations. This book adds a fascinating dimension to our understanding not only of John and Abigail Adams but to our understanding of the emergence of an American identity. ~Rosemarie Zagarri, author of Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic
A masterful account of how John and Abigail Adams’s domestic lives were forever altered by their cosmopolitan adventures in Europe. Jeanne Abrams’ scholarship plunges us into the Adams’s world, where intimate family dynamics and political power-plays entwined to mold the conscience of one of America’s greatest patriots. ~Adam Rovner, author of In the Shadow of Zion
John Adams has been neglected of late in favor of his flashier colleagues, such as Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. In A View from Abroad, Jeanne Abrams reminds us of the importance of Adams's diplomatic skills as well as the crucial role of his brilliant wife Abigail. Abrams makes a clear case that both Adamses were central to establishing the place of the United States in the world community. ~Rebecca Tannenbaum, Yale University
Abrams’s readable style and vivid descriptions enliven the Adams world…Abrams’s valuable book is a must-read not just for scholars and enthusiasts of American revolutionary or diplomatic history but for all who wish to understand the development of American institutions and identity. ~H-Diplo
Studies of the founding fathers and mothers exist in an overcrowded genre, but Jeanne E. Abrams has found a unique angle in A View from Abroad… she garners insights that others have missed. She also regularly advances and adds to arguments throughout the text made by Jonathan Dull, Pauline Maier, David Waldstreicher, Gordon Wood, and others, making this work relevant to multiple historiographic discussions. This book should prove of great interest to scholars of the American Revolution, early republic, and diplomatic history as well as those interested in questions of identity and material culture. Just as importantly, Abrams writes well and the text has a strong narrative, which should allow it to reach a more popular audience than most university presses. ~H-Early-America
In A View from Abroad, Jeanne Abrams … offers a masterful study of John and Abigail Adams during a previously overlooked era of their lives … The family focus reminds readers that diplomacy was a social and cultural labor that relied on household participation in courtly protocol and genteel interactions as much as political negotiations between state officials … with this family history comes an intriguing and largely unseen look into the role of women in U.S. diplomacy … historians will find this book to be a welcome addition to recent studies that have cast Adams in a new light. ~Journal of the Early Republic
Abrams’s prose is eloquent…. [Abrams provides] sharp insights in an accessible manner. ~Presidential Studies Quarterly
Other books have chronicled the close relationship between John and Abigail, but Abrams adds to the story by exploring Abigail's contributions to this 'politically minded family.' This is an absorbing account of the Adamses in the decade after American independence. ~Choice