Abigail Adams, an active letter writer, early feminist, and patriot, was an inspiring leader who used her intelligence and wit to open the doors for many significant things to come. Her accomplishments as a leader will never be forgotten and are very well respected. Every historical figure can be evaluated in different ways, using different criteria; but most people will agree that Abigail Adams contributed greatly to history, in providing both documentation and leadership.
In assessing a leader, their use of determination can help prove if they are average or superior. Determination is firmness in purpose and having a fixed intention. Individuals who are determined are motivated and can get things done under any circumstance; being able to do that is crucial to being an effective leader. An example of a determined leader would be George Washington. During the Revolutionary War he took on the role of commanding the continental army; when things were looking bleak his determination led him to make a decision to lead a surprise attack, which was a major turning point in the war. Even though things were tough, he did not give up or let his objective slip away. Another leader who illustrates success fueled by determination was Thurgood Marshall. His willpower helped in many ways; he won 29 of the 32 cases he argued in front of the Supreme Court. Because he was black, he encountered many problems that he had to overcome by determination on his way to becoming a Supreme Court Justice. His accomplishments showed that determination prevailed during his entire life .
Determination was also prevalent all throughout Abigail Adams’ life. She was very determined to share her opinion and supported it well. When she wrote letters to her friends and family she discussed her beliefs and shared her knowledge with them. “I am more convinced that man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or a few is ever grasping…”(Adams 1776). Her modern thoughts and ideas alarmed some, but she was determined to express her feelings anyways. When Adams wrote her husband asking him to “remember the ladies” his reply was “As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh”(Adams 1774). Despite the ridicule, she wrote him again numerous times about the issue at hand without any bitterness or resent. Abigail Adams had to go through many things throughout her lifetime, in which determination was necessary. She had to spend long periods away from her husband while he was away for business; during those times she took care of the children and their farm, sometimes even providing the family income. Her determination and intelligence helped her carry out these task.
Another important trait that leadership demands is knowledge. Knowledge is familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study. A leader must be knowledgeable in general and regarding the specific issue at hand. It is not possible to lead anything if you are not familiar with what the concerns really are. Having knowledge about the subject can help influence people and get them to respond to the cause. Albert Einstein was a very knowledgeable leader. His theories and findings furthered many world-changing experiments and events. One of his most important discoveries is the one that sparked the creation of the disastrous atomic bomb. In addition to Albert Einstein, Abraham Linclon was a knowledgeable leader during the Civil War. He used his knowledge to see the big picture, which helped the north work towards their goals in the war; in the end, he accomplished them and was successful. Lincoln’s knowledge was a vital factor leading them into triumph.
Although Abigail Adams had little formal education, she was intelligent and open-minded. She demonstrated knowledge when she voiced her political concerns in letters to her husband John Adams. “If a form of government is to be established here, what one will be assumed? Will it be left to our assemblies to choose one? And will not many men have many minds? And shall we not run into dissensions among ourselves…”(Adams 1774). She goes on to support her opinion in a way only someone familiar with his or her subject can do. Her husband was continually impressed with her political advice and opinion; he wrote to her in one letter, “I think you shine as a sates woman of late as well as a farmeress”(Adams 1776). Even when Abigail was in Paris, where she joined John Adams at his diplomatic post, she broadened her knowledge by reading French literature and forcing herself to write down every word that was unknown. Knowledge was one of Adams stronger leadership traits, ultimately contributing to her becoming the remarkable leader she was.
A requirement of superior leadership is assertiveness. Assertiveness is shown in a person who is fearless and daring. Being bold shows how far someone will go to get their point across and how much they are willing to risk. In certain situations a leader might be put in, being daring is key. It shows brave and courageous characteristics. Medgar Evers was a very assertive leader. Being known as on of the most vocal members of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) he led peaceful marches, boycotts, vigils, and picket lines in support of his cause. Another leader that showed a lot of assertiveness was Malcolm X. His beliefs of separatism, black pride, and the use of casual violence to prove these beliefs were very bold. Malcolm X’s assertiveness was definitely his one of his assets.
Being bold was a strong point for Abigail Adams. She was ahead of her time and made sure people knew how she felt about women’s rights, slavery, and politics in general. She went as far as to write her husband at the constitutional convention and tell him her thoughts and possible actions. ” If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to formant a rebellion…”(Adams 1776). Adams fearlessly expressed her opinions in private as well as public. Being a man and sharing your beliefs in such a way was considered bold, but to be a woman at that time and do that was almost unheard of. Abigail Adams even went as far as to write the president, Thomas Jefferson, in response to his attack on her husbands “midnight appointments”. Abigails daring and fearless actions in situations undoubtedly gave her an advantage in being leader.
A leader would not be complete without demonstrating the use of some kind of strategy. Strategy is a plan of action that intends to accomplish a specific goal. The key to getting things accomplished is the use of tactics and planning. They must be able to plan some strategy to succeed in attaining their goals, if not they will struggle to get things done. Both General George Patton and Martin Luther King Jr. were exceptionally tactful. General Patton was strategic in his military affairs, which led to many victories. In the summer of 1944, George Patton took the Third Army and broke through the German defenses in the Normandy campaign. Martin Luther King Jr. held strong beliefs in peace during the civil rights movement; this was a very difficult thing to do because this time was extremely violent and it was hard to express your point without using some sort of violence. He had to be very tactful; he held peaceful rallies and marches, also giving many speeches to rise above and accomplish what he did. Although both men’s strategies were completely different, they still illustrated successful strategic method.
The strategic qualities of Abigail Adams were primarily focused on her words and in how she made her point. Adams really did not show many strategic moves concerning intense action, but in her letters and arguments, she had a tactful way of writing things. In her letter to Thomas Jefferson, written to defended her husband’s actions, she strategically showed her point. “You have been pleased to enter upon some subjects which call for a reply…As this act, I am certain, was not intended to give any personal pain or offense…but the different political opinions which have so unhappily divided our country must have given rise to that idea” (Adams 1804). Abigail made her point as well as looking classy and intelligent in doing so. In all of her correspondence, she tackled arguments and writing in general strategically with elegance and style.
Desire is another characteristic that fuels effective leaders. The intense want of something is desire. When people want or desire something, they work hard to get it completed. The more aspiration a leader has, the more likely it is they will achieve their goals. Just wanting something is enough to drive people to victory. The colonist in early America yearned for freedom from Britain. Even though Britain had the most powerful army in the world at that time, the desire of the colonist pulled them through the war to success. Mother Teresa also showed much desire for her cause. She was very dedicated and wanted to assist people in any way possible. Driven by desire, Mother Teresa accomplished many great things in her lifetime and helped many people despite the fact she was only one person.
The desire held by Abigail Adams for her cause was not shown in actions, but in her sacrifices and the bold sharing of her feelings. When she wrote something as motivating as “We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them”(Adams 1784), she showed her patriotic desire, the desire for her country to succeed. She felt so strongly about her aspirations that she risked her reputation and respect from certain people just to share her opinion. Abigail sacrificed a lot for her husband and his career. During times when John Adams was gone, she struggled with wartime shortages and inflation, ran her family’s farm with little help, and taught her five children when formal education was inconsistent. Although Adams showed a more passive desire, it is still very much there and a part of her leadership.
Abigail Adams showed many important leadership characteristics and is considered a great leader with many achievements. Thousands of her letters have recorded the history throughout the building conflict of the American Revolution. Adams became a trusted and influential confident to her husband. Her thoughts and feelings on slavery, women’s right, and education were ahead of her time. Even though Adams did not provide any immediate change in the way women were dealt with or perceived, her analytical standpoint concerning the role of women definitely stirred things up. Thanks to Abigail Adams’ leadership, the women that followed her brought about lasting change. Although she was not appreciated for her many accomplishments at the time of her life, she is now celebrated as the significant leader she was. “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.”