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

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The brief time that is illuminated by Louisa Park's writing was a time of change, not a time of resolution. The brevity of Louisa's account has special meaning as an illustration of that time because it shows how people lived within that change. Louisa could not assuage her fears of a breakdown in the government because she could not know that the first peaceful change of government was about to occur. She could not articulate her loss of purpose when she lost her child because the women of her generation were still creating the new ideal of motherhood. The definition of the "true woman" and her popular portrait would come later. Louisa yearned for a close companionate marriage in which she and her husband were responsible for each other's happiness and emotional support, even while the worlds of men's work and women's homes were diverging.

The eighteen months from January 1800 to June 1801 in which Louisa wrote her letters and diary are only a moment in the history of the United States of America, but it was a spectacular moment. Louisa Adams Park lived in that moment, standing at the threshold of the nineteenth century.


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