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Penalty phase set to start

A new take on ‘Mrs. President,’ Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

Adams National Historical Park

Abigail Adams

WASHINGTON - An early opponent of slavery and advocate of women’s rights, her detractors in the press called her “Mrs. President.”

“All history at every age,” she wrote to her husband, “exhibits instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex, which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.”

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On Monday, a new spotlight will be trained on First Lady Abigail Adams, the politically active and outspoken spouse of President John Adams, the nation’s second chief executive and first to hail from Massachusetts.

Mrs. Adams will be featured on C-SPAN’s two-season, 35-part series, First Ladies: Image and Influence, which examines the private lives and public roles of the presidential spouses over the nation’s 44 presidential administrations.

The Adams segment, to air Monday at 9 p.m. on the nonprofit public affairs cable channel, will feature new footage shot in Boston, Quincy, Philadelphia, and Washington, where the founding family lived and worked.

Among the live guests on hand in the Washington studio during the program will be C. James Taylor, editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, as well as Edith Gelles, author of “Abigail Adams: A Writer’s Life” and “Abigail & John: A Portrait of Marriage.”

The first season of the C-SPAN series – covering Martha Washington through Ida McKinley -- kicked off on Presidents’ Day and airs Mondays through June. The second season – featuring Edith Roosevelt through Michelle Obama – will air from September 2013 to February 2014.

“Remember the ladies,” as Abigail Adams so aptly put it, “and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.”

Bender can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBender
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