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Dating Advice from John Adams

Notes & Transcripts

John Adams writes to his daughter “Nabby” at the age of 17 as she is courted by a professionally impressive young man with hints of a questionable past:

“Daughter! Get you an honest man for a husband, and keep him honest. No matter whether he is rich, provided he be independent.

Regard the honor and moral character of the man more than all other circumstances. Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no other riches but those of the heart.

An honest, sensible, humane man, above all the littlesness of vanity and extravagances of imagination, laboring to do good rather than be rich, to be useful rather than make a show, living in modest simplicity clearly within his means and free from debts and obligations, is really the most respectable man in society, makes himself and all about him most happy.”


Source: From John Adams, by David McCullough, p. 289

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