Adams Park lived in interesting times. In 1800 the United States of
America was a small country struggling to establish itself on the world
stage and trying to remain neutral in the war between England and France.
The nation was conducting its first two-party presidential campaign
and seriously testing the constitutional provisions for electing the
president and vice president. New England, where Louisa lived, was trying
to maintain its political importance under the new Constitution and
its communities were adapting to the new society and the changing economy.
Louisa lived in the midst of this change as a wife and mother, sister
and daughter, and often, whether she liked it or not, as an independent
Louisa's diary opens doors to the transitions occurring in American
society in the first days of the nineteenth century even as it tells
the intimate story of her life. Her concerns reflected America's concerns
about the nature of Democracy and questions about who should lead; she
echoed fears that society was discarding the traditions that safeguarded
its stability. At the same time, her dedication to the ideal of an emotionally
fulfilling marriage reflected society's changing expectations for marriage,
and her relationships with the women in her family and her community
were characteristic of the developing idea of the woman's sphere. Louisa's
activities and attitudes foreshadowed the "true womanhood"1
that later in the century would make the middle-class New England housewife
the model for all American women. Her story is not extraordinary, but
it is fascinating.