Thursday, July 2, 2009

Attend to the Education of Your Children

A selection from a letter by John Adams, who had just been elected president of the recently formed United States of America, to his daughter Abigail “Nabby” Adams Smith, about a proper education for her three sons. He was as interested in his grandchildren’s education as he had been about his own children’s. The letter was written February 21, 1797, two weeks prior to his inauguration as the second president of the United States.

In your solitary hours, my dear daughter, you will have a delightful opportunity of attending to the education of your children, to give them a taste and attachment to study, and to books. A taste for science and literature, added to a turn for business, never can fail of success in life. Without learning, nothing very great can ever be accomplished in the way of business. But not only a thirst for knowledge should be excited, and a taste for letters be cultivated, but prudence, patience, justice, temperance, resolutions, modesty, and self-cultivation, should be recommended to them as early as possible. The command of their passions, the restraints of their appetites, reverence for superiors, especially parents, a veneration for religion, morals, and good conduct.

You will find it more for your happiness to spend your time with them in this manner, than to be engaged in fashionable amusements, and social entertainments, even with the best company.

Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children, Dorie McCullough Lawson, Doubleday, 2004, p. 26.

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