Abigail Adams Letter to John Quincy Adams

In a letter written in 1780 for her son, John Quincy Adams, Abigail Adams attempts to convince her son that he should travel with his father to France after making a decision that he didn’t want to go on the trip. Adams does so by establishing the importance of her word as his mother with ethical appeals, using logical reasoning through past events, and connecting with his inner morals through pathos.

She does this in order to reason with him that the opportunity to travel and explore will heavily benefit his future. By using her parental authority, giving real-world examples, and by fueling his inner passion, she makes an effort to convince her son to travel to France with his father so he can prosper in the life ahead of him. Adams begins to convince her son of partaking on this trip by immediately establishing her authority as his parent.

The letter begins with Adams addressing her son as, “My dear son” (Adams). Not only does she do this to recognize who the letter is for, but her tone is gentle and loving when speaking to her son. By using this tone, it shows that whatever she is about to say to him is with love and care. This will allow her son, John Quincy Adams, to recognize that she means well and that she cares about him deeply. Adams goes on to compliment him on his knowledge of the french language by stating, “Your knowledge of the language must give you greater advantages now than you could possibly have reaped whilst ignorant of it,” (Adams 11-13) and uses this as an opportunity to encourage him to improve. She does this in order to give him the reassurance of his knowledge, and her constructive criticism could be seen as credible because it is coming from his caring mother.

Adams then ends the letter on a heartfelt note, explaining to her son that he would make his parents, “supremely happy, particularly your ever affectionate mother” (Adams 62-63). She puts a small amount of pressure on her son by saying this because it would make him believe that his decision would not only impact himself, but it would also impact how his family thought of him. The pressure of a parent’s approval can have a large impact on a person, and Adams uses this to her advantage. By saying this, John Quincy Adams must now ponder if his decisions will please his family or not. Adams uses ethical appeals in order to convince her son to go on this trip to France and makes it apparent that she, as his mother, knows what is best for him. Abigail Adams continues to persuade her son to go on this journey by describing various metaphors and life lessons to him. She discusses a metaphor written by an author that she has met, stating that he …compares a judicious traveler to a river, that increases its stream the further it flows from its source.

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