Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"


Mr. Hull is a Trinitarian. ‘Tis strange how inconsistent people are in their opinions of Religion. Last week, the people of Amesbury were highly offended with Mr. Hull, because he had a louder call from another place–they were so well united–so very well pleased and satisfied. If he left them, they should be in a worse situation then ever– ruined! But today, they have invited a Universalist into their beloved pulpit, and all the world are running to hear him–that is–all Salisbury and Amesbury. I was much urged to stay and hear him;–but no–I should be mortified to be seen in the train of a man of such principles. If we are all to be saved, do what we will, what do we go to meeting for? Such sentiments certainly open the way for every kind of wickedness, and consequently, are to be avoided, if we consult only our present happiness. I can have charity for all professions, excepting this Universalism. To this, the most wicked and abandoned resort, without one wish to reform. With such characters and such principles, a lady of delicacy would blush to appear, and a lady of virtue would never be found.41
Nothing except her loneliness for John or her grief after Warren's death prompted such an outpouring of opinion as the arrival of the Universalist in Amesbury. Universalism was a doctrine that held that God's love encompassed all and that Christ's death had assured the salvation of everyone–regardless of belief or behavior. Louisa's fear of the wicked turning to Universalism to avoid the responsibilities of a virtuous Christian life was similar to the fear she had that Thomas Jefferson's government would be licentious. She looked to the institution of Christianity to provide stability to individuals as well as society. To Louisa, the idea of unearned salvation was as abhorrent as mob rule.

In her letters and her diary Louisa was shaping her husband's view of herself in the way she expressed her moral and political views. She was assuring that he would see her as a loyal, pious, and devoted spouse. She was not attempting to create a false image; she valued those qualities in herself. The true woman of the nineteenth century was the foundation of home life and the model of piety and virtue. Louisa's choices show how she adopted that standard and expressed it in her own life. She was not simply waiting for John to return, she was caring for their marriage while she cared for her other concerns.

41. Park, Diary, May 24, 1801.
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