Lesson 6: Separation

Getting Started

In 1776, the colonies formally declared independence from Great Britain and began to seek foreign aid for the war effort. As John Adams was called to serve his country, both in the Continental Congress and as a diplomat to France, Abigail managed the family's affairs in America and kept in touch with John and with family and friends through regular correspondence.

In this lesson, you'll continue to work on grammar skills and explore vocabulary terms for the second half of the book.

Stuff You Need

  • Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober
  • dictionary

Ideas to Think About

  • How do the lives of individuals interact with, influence, and become transformed by the events of the time and place in which they live?
  • Can attention to the structure of a paragraph and the role of different component parts allow authors to craft more persuasive and powerful writing?
  • How can the use of different verbs and verb forms influence the power and clarity of one's writing?

Things to Know

  • protocol: conventions or formal customs
  • abolish: eliminate or put an end to
  • destitute: impoverished
  • sedition: provoking rebellion
  • apprehension: a fear about something bad happening
  • abhorrence: something looked upon with disgust
  • disconsolate: unhappy
  • impudence: impertinence, not showing propriety or respect


  • Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general, academic, and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression. (LA)
  • Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept. (LA)
  • Use verbs in the active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood to achieve particular effects (e.g., emphasizing the actor or the action; expressing uncertainty or describing a state contrary to fact). (LA)
  • Explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences. (LA)
  • Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice. (LA)
  • Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood. (LA)
  • Use subject-verb agreement and verb tense that are appropriate for the meaning of the sentence. (LA)

Introducing the Lesson

In this lesson your child will practice paragraph editing and explore vocabulary terms for the next six chapters of the book.
Reading and Questions
Materials: Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober
Read Chapters 11 and 12 of Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober. These chapters cover the vote for the colonies to declare independence and the progress of the war. Next, answer these questions.
  1. When Abigail Adams went to hear the Declaration of Independence read, how did the people around her react to the document?
    People reacted with great enthusiasm — symbols of the British crown were removed and the crowd shouted, "God save our American states!" (p. 78)
  2. What argument did Abigail Adams make for educating women?
    She wished for greater education so that she could be better educate her own children and believed that educating women would allow them to educate the next generation of citizens, which would be crucial in a new nation.
  3. What do you think Abigail Adams was thinking and feeling when she learned that John would be dispatched to France?
    Answers will vary, but your child should recognize that after long separations, she had very much wanted him to be home for a long period of time, so his going to France must have been unwelcome news.
  4. What role did letter-writing play in Abigail Adams' coping with the absence of her husband and son?
    Answers will vary, but your child should understand that Abigail Adams shared her feelings in her letters and was able to connect with those who knew and understood her.