In Matters of Diplomacy and Love: John and Abigail Adams

When we look to the past to better understand our world, we often seek the historical documents and correspondences that shaped our governments and their institutions. Yet, romance also left behind letters that continue to shape our understanding of not only the world as it once was, but of our shared humanity.

John and Abigail Adams began their courtship in 1762, several years before the birth of the United States. The couple enjoyed using pen names with one another, John addressing Abigail as Diana, after the Roman goddess of the moon, and Abigail calling him Lysander, after the Spartan war hero. (Facts from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/adams/peopleevents/e_courtship.html) By the end of John’s political career in 1801, he and Abigail had exchanged over 1,100 letters.

Though the couple spent considerable time apart, their correspondence acted as a reminder of their dedication to one another and allowed for a rigorous intellectual exchange pertaining to the pursuit of a democratic nation.

Portrait of John and Abigail Adams. (image courtesy of http://symonsez.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/johnabigail1.jpg)

Portrait of John and Abigail Adams. (image courtesy of http://symonsez.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/johnabigail1.jpg)

In perhaps one of Abigail’s most famous letters to John, she showcases her both her assertiveness and commitment to democratic values as she reminds him that he needs to “remember the ladies” in an age where women were taught to remain in the domestic sphere.

Braintree March 31, 1776

I wish you would ever write me a Letter half as long as I write you; and tell me if you may where your Fleet are gone? What sort of Defence Virginia can make against our common Enemy? Whether it is so situated as to make an able Defence? Are not the Gentery Lords and the common people vassals, are they not like the uncivilized Natives Brittain represents us to be? I hope their Riffel Men who have shewen themselves very savage and even Blood thirsty; are not a specimen of the Generality of the people…

I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for Liberty cannot be Eaquelly Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow Creatures of theirs. Of this I am certain that it is not founded upon that generous and christian principal of doing to others as we would that others should do unto us.

I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land.

I feel a gaieti de Coar to which before I was a stranger. I think the Sun looks brighter, the Birds sing more melodiously, and Nature puts on a more chearfull countanance. We feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.

Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it.-I long to hear that you have declared an independancy-and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Every one of your Friend[s] send their Regards, and all the little ones. Your Brothers youngest child lies bad with convulsion fitts. Adieu. I need not say how much I am Your ever faithfull Friend.

Excerpt courtesy of: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/adams/filmmore/ps_ladies.html

One of John Adams’ many letters to his wife Abigail. Image courtesy of: http://media.npr.org/assets/artslife/books/2010/10/first-family/letter-c4814ef7a4f1466e8d7a456d7692ba7e643cdcec-s6-c30.jpg

One of John Adams’ many letters to his wife Abigail. Image courtesy of: http://media.npr.org/assets/artslife/books/2010/10/first-family/letter-c4814ef7a4f1466e8d7a456d7692ba7e643cdcec-s6-c30.jpg

There is truth in saying that the power of the written word continues to challenge and mold our conceptions of what love is. The correspondence between John and Abigail Adams showcases a unique egalitarianism that existed in their relationship—it was that egalitarianism that they had hoped would one day transcend their letters into what would become American democracy.

 

Madeleine Garone,

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The First Job Begins with a Thank You Note

Although the notion of less is more holds true in thank you notes, there is an art to writing them to a prospective employer. After a job interview, it is regarded as a courtesy to send your interviewer a thank you note within a few days. Sending a handwritten thank you note shows your prospective employer that you took the moment to reflect on the time spent with him or her as well as your commitment to the role to which you are applying. In an era that has given rise to the email as acceptable means of correspondence, you will be sure to stand out among your competition with a beautiful handwritten thank you note.

thankyou note image

  •  When writing a thank you note to a prospective employer, it is very important to weave unique elements of the interview into your note, especially a moment of discovering a shared interest or common experience during your conversation.
  • In addition to reiterating your interest in the job, the thank you note provides the opportunity to further highlight your qualifications for the role and to add in anything that you may have forgotten to mention during your interview. Be concise and confident.
  • To conclude your note, write that you look forward to hearing from your interviewer. Sign your note with a simple Sincerely, My best, or Best wishes followed by your signature.

The interviewer will be sure to take notice of your attention to detail, polite manner, and thoughtfulness—all qualities of an excellent future employee.

Madeleine Garone,

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Stamps from the 1800s

On our quest to learn everything about 1878, when Dempsey & Carroll was founded, we came across these beautiful stamps from the late 1800s. We wish these were still around!

 


ol   5¢ Taylor of 1875-1879

Designer: Butler Packard (frame) · Vignette: Charles Skinner · Frame: D. S. Ronaldson · Lettering: D. S. Ronaldson 

 

 

 

 

  olll6¢ Lincoln of 1870-1882

Designer: Butler Packard · Vignette: Joseph P. Ourdan · Frame: Douglas S. Ronaldson · Lettering: D. S. 

 

 

 

 

      olllll30¢ Hamilton of 1870-1882

Designer: Butler Packard · Vignette: Joseph P. Ourdan · Frame: Douglas S. Ronaldson · Lettering: D. S. Ronaldson

Chemistry Seals the Bond: The Story of Marie and Pierre Curie

Although scientists Pierre and Marie Curie are most well-known for their discovery of the radioactive elements polonium and radium, the story of their romance is one that continues to echo outside the scientific community. Marie, originally from Poland, met French physicist Pierre when she came to Paris to pursue her studies in the physical sciences and mathematics at the Sorbonne.

In addition to being scientific pioneers, the Curies were bicycle enthusiasts. They used the money from their wedding to purchase bicycles to use on their honeymoon. (Photo courtesy of : http://0.tqn.com/d/womenshistory/1/0/Q/z/2/Marie-Curie-Honeymoon-3208447a.png)

In addition to being scientific pioneers, the Curies were bicycle enthusiasts. They used the money from their wedding to purchase bicycles to use on their honeymoon. (Photo courtesy of : http://0.tqn.com/d/womenshistory/1/0/Q/z/2/Marie-Curie-Honeymoon-3208447a.png)

Though we know that Marie decided to stay in France and marry Pierre, there was once a moment of uncertainty that overshadowed their commitment to one another. In a letter to his beloved Marie, he writes:

“…

We have promised each other — haven’t we? — to be at least great friends. If you will only not change your mind! For there are no promises that are binding; such things cannot be ordered at will. It would be a fine thing, just the same, in which I hardly dare believe, to pass our lives near each other, hypnotized by our dreams: your patriotic dream, our humanitarian dream, and our scientific dream.

Of all those dreams the last is, I believe, the only legitimate one. I mean by that that we are powerless to change the social order and, even if we were not, we should not know what to do; in taking action, no matter in what direction, we should never be sure of not doing more harm than good, by retarding some inevitable evolution. From the scientific point of view, on the contrary, we may hope to do something; the ground is solider here, and any discovery that we may make, however small, will remain acquired knowledge.

See how it works out: it is agreed that we shall be great friends, but if you leave France in a year it would be an altogether too Platonic friendship, that of two creatures who would never see each other again. Wouldn’t it be better for you to stay with me? I know that this question angers you, and that you don’t want to speak of it again — and then, too, I feel so thoroughly unworthy of you from every point of view…

Believed me your very devoted,

Pierre Curie”

Letter excerpt credited to The Gaggle http://the-gaggle.com/2012/01/famous-love-letter-marie-and-pierre/

marie-curie-writing

A letter from Marie Curie to one of her colleagues at the Sorbonne (Image courtesy of: http://atozhandwriting.com/marie-curie/).

Sometimes one can best express his or her thoughts in writing. In our writing, we are candid, allowing our emotions to flow into the pen and onto paper. It is through this letter that he expressed to Marie that which he wished to articulate to her—that not only does he adore her, but he regards her as his intellectual equal.

The couple married in 1895 in Sceaux, France. In an era when men and women were expected to abide to society’s gender roles, Marie and Pierre worked together as a team, imagining a world where their scientific contributions bettered society. Shortly after Pierre was killed in an accident in 1906, a devastated yet determined Marie vowed to continue the work she and Pierre began. The Sorbonne appointed to her husband’s academic position, making her the first female professor at the university. Marie went on to become the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, an achievement rooted in the couple’s work together.

 

Today, there are infinite possibilities of how couples come to be. Here at Dempsey & Carroll, our passion is paper, and we would love to learn about your own personal love story and the letters and notes exchanged that helped to cultivate that love. If you are interested in sharing your story on our blog, please email madeleine@dempseyandcarroll.com.

 

Madeleine Garone,

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Imagining a Better World in Letters: Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of equality and civil disobedience. King’s vision of a world in which one is judged for her character is one that continues to inspire people in all walks of life. There is no doubt that he understood the power of the written word, as exemplified by his handwritten drafts of speeches and letters to family, friends, and fellow activists.

A letter that King wrote to his secretary Maude as he concluded his stay in India. Photo courtesy of End Paper, The Paperblanks Blog (http://blog.paperblanks.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Martin-Luther-King-Jr-I-Have-a-Dream-Handwritten.jpg). Be sure to check out more of his letters archived at www.thekingcenter.org.

A letter that King wrote to his secretary Maude as he concluded his stay in India. Photo courtesy of End Paper, The Paperblanks Blog (http://blog.paperblanks.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Martin-Luther-King-Jr-I-Have-a-Dream-Handwritten.jpg). Be sure to check out more of his letters archived at www.thekingcenter.org.

His message of hope continues to live on in his letters. Perhaps, more importantly, his ideas continue to permeate our actions today and our dreams of a better tomorrow.

A Love Stemmed from Letters: The Story of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

It all began when she read the words, “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett …”

R. Browning's first letter to E. Barrett

Robert Browning’s first letter to Elizabeth Barrett, dated 10 January 1845. Photo courtesy of Geni Blog (http://www.geni.com/blog/the-love-story-of-elizabeth-barrett-and-robert-browning-379330.html).

In 2014, it may seem impossible to imagine that a romance can begin with a simple letter, but it is something that the Victorians certainly got right. The English poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning exchanged some 573 love letters over the duration of their courtship, which all began after Browning wrote Barrett a letter praising her poetry. Although Barrett was afflicted by a chronic illness, she and Browning continued to exchange letters, which allowed the two poets to gain a deeper understanding of one another. After their fifth month of correspondence, Barrett and Browning finally met face to face, but continued to explore their relationship through writing letters. In 1864, just over a year after they began corresponding, Barrett and Browning married and moved to Italy in an effort to alleviate Elizabeth’s illness in the country’s warmer climate. Barrett’s father, who wished her to never marry, disowned her after she ran away with her new husband.

It was through their habitual letter writing that the two poets revealed their sentiments for one another, ultimately allowing their love to grow. Their souls were embedded in their handwriting, lying exposed for the other to see. They shared poetry and philosophy, sealing their devotion to one another upon the sealing of each envelope. For these poets, their letters acted as a means for them to plunge into the other’s world, to learn what it is like to be Elizabeth Barrett, to be Robert Browning. Their story, one that evolved through letters, is one that will continue to withstand time. As their eyes scrolled over each delicately written word, their intimacy blossomed into something that no one else in the world could touch.

 

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

Portraits of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. Photo courtesy of Geni Blog (http://www.geni.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/BarrettBrowning.jpg).

Today, there are infinite possibilities of how couples come to be. Here at Dempsey & Carroll, our passion is paper, and we would love to learn about your own personal love story and the letters and notes exchanged that helped to cultivate that love. If you are interested in sharing your story on our blog, please email madeleine@dempseyandcarroll.com.

 

Madeleine Garone,

Madeleine Garone signature

A New Year, A New Note

The arrival of 2014 marks the advent of changes for many of us. As each new year approaches, we wade deeper into our marriage to technology, constantly checking our smart phones for text messages and emails with the tap of a finger. So I ask, what better time is there than now to reach for your favorite pen and stationery and write to someone you care about? It is undeniable that there is a personal touch embedded in the handwritten note that just can’t be replicated in emails. Share your wishes for good health and happiness with those who mean the most to you by leaping into 2014 on (or with) a positive note.

  • Think about your own reasons for writing your note. The reasons to write to someone are endless and timeless, whether it’s to someone to thank her for a fun evening, a kind gesture, or a gift or to let someone know that you are thinking about her.
  • Settle into your favorite spot before beginning to write. I personally enjoy lighting candles and turning on some calm music to collect my thoughts so I write something that is sincere and heartfelt.
  • To add your own personal touch, use colorful adjectives to highlight your sentiments or memories of an experience—the more specific, the more heartfelt the note will be.
  • Sign your note in a way that will create a lasting effect on the person to whom you are sending it. Try something simple like Best wishes if you are writing to a close friend or opt for the classic Love for family members or a love interest.

Remember that writing a note or letter means that you offer a tiny piece of yourself to the person to whom you write. The notes you send this year may very well become keepsakes, even mementos that can unlock the past in the years to come.

Beginning a note to start the new year.

Madeleine Garone,

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