|First Lady of the United States|
March 4, 1797 –March 4, 1801
|Preceded by||Martha Washington|
|Succeeded by||Martha Randolph (acting)|
|Second Lady of the United States|
April 21, 1789 –March 4, 1797
|Vice President||John Adams|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Ann Gerry (1813)|
November 22, 1744
Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay, British America
|Died||October 28, 1818 73) (aged|
Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Cause of death||Typhoid fever|
|Resting place|| United First Parish Church |
|Children||Abigail, John Quincy, Susanna, Charles, Thomas, and Elizabeth (stillborn)|
|Relatives|| Adams political family |
Quincy political family
Abigail Adams (née Smith; November 22, [ O.S. November 11] 1744 – October 28, 1818) was the wife and closest advisor of John Adams, as well as the mother of John Quincy Adams. She is sometimes considered to have been a Founder of the United States, and is now designated as the first Second Lady and second First Lady of the United States, although these titles were not used at the time. She and Barbara Bush are the only two women to be the wife of one U.S. president and the mother of another.
Adams's life is one of the most documented of the First Ladies: she is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses. John frequently sought the advice of Abigail on many matters, and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. Her letters also serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolutionary War home front.
Abigail Adams was born at the North Parish Congregational Church in Weymouth, Massachusetts, to William Smith (1707–1783) and Elizabeth (née Quincy) Smith.On her mother's side, she was descended from the Quincy family, a well-known political family in the Massachusetts colony. Through her mother she was a cousin of Dorothy Quincy, wife of John Hancock. Adams was also the great-granddaughter of John Norton, founding pastor of Old Ship Church in Hingham, Massachusetts, the only remaining 17th-century Puritan meetinghouse in Massachusetts. Smith married Elizabeth Quincy in 1742, and together they had four children, including three daughters: one born in 1743, Abigail born in 1744 and another born in 1745. Their only son, born in 1746, died of alcoholism in 1787. As with several of her ancestors, Adams's father was a liberal Congregational minister: a leader in a Yankee society that held its clergy in high esteem. Smith did not focus his preaching on predestination or original sin; instead he emphasized the importance of reason and morality. In July 1775 his wife Elizabeth, with whom he had been married for 33 years, died of smallpox. In 1784, at age 77, Smith died.
Abigail did not receive formal schooling; she was frequently sick as a child, something which may have been a factor preventing her from receiving an education. 7 Later in life, Adams would also consider that she was deprived an education because females were rarely given such an opportunity. :7 Although she did not receive a formal education, her mother taught her and her sisters Mary (1739–1811) and Elizabeth (1742–1816, known as Betsy) to read, write and cipher; her father's, uncle's and grandfather's large libraries enabled the sisters to study English and French literature. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Quincy, also contributed to Adams' education. :8 As she grew up, Adams read with friends in an effort to further her learning. :8 She became one of the most erudite women ever to serve as First Lady.:
Abigail Smith first met John Adams when she was 15 years old in 1759. John accompanied his friend Richard Cranch to the Smith household. Cranch was engaged to Abigail's older sister, Mary Smith, and they would be the parents of federal judge William Cranch. Adams reported finding the Smith sisters neither "fond, nor frank, nor candid."
Although Adams' father approved of the match, her mother was appalled that her daughter would marry a country lawyer whose manner still reeked of the farm, but eventually she gave in. The couple married on October 25, 1764, in the Smiths' home in Weymouth. Smith, Abigail's father, presided over the marriage of John Adams and his daughter.After the reception, the couple mounted a single horse and rode off to their new home, the small cottage and farm John had inherited from his father in Braintree, Massachusetts. Later they moved to Boston, where his law practice expanded. The couple welcomed their first child nine months into their marriage.
In 12 years, she gave birth to six children:
Her childrearing style included relentless and continual reminders of what the children owed to virtue and the Adams tradition.Adams was responsible for family and farm when her husband was on his long trips. "Alas!", she wrote in December 1773, "How many snow banks divide thee and me." Abigail and John's marriage is well documented through their correspondence and other writings. Letters exchanged throughout John's political obligations indicate his trust in Abigail's knowledge was sincere. Like her husband, Abigail often quoted literature in her letters. Historian David McCullough claims that she did so "more readily" than her husband. Their correspondence illuminated their mutual emotional and intellectual respect. John often excused himself to Abigail for his "vanity", exposing his need for her approval.
He moved the family to Boston in April 1768, renting a clapboard house on Brattle Street that was known locally as the "White House." He and Abigail and the children lived there for a year, then moved to Cold Lane; still later, they moved again to a larger house in Brattle Square in the center of the city.
John's growing law practice required changes for the family. In 1771, he moved Abigail and the children to Braintree, but he kept his office in Boston, hoping the time away from his family would allow him to focus on his work. Nevertheless, after some time in the capital, he became disenchanted with the rural and "vulgar" Braintree as a home for his family. In August 1772, therefore, Adams moved his family back to Boston. He purchased a large brick house on Queen Street, not far from his office.In 1774, Abigail and John returned the family to the farm due to the increasingly unstable situation in Boston, and Braintree remained their permanent Massachusetts home.
Abigail also took responsibility for the family's financial matters, including investments. Investments made through her uncle Cotton Tufts in debt instruments issued to finance the Revolutionary War were rewarded after Alexander Hamilton's First Report on the Public Credit endorsed full federal payment at face value to holders of government securities.One recent researcher even credits Abigail's financial acumen with providing for the Adams family's wealth through the end of John's lifetime.
In 1784, she and her daughter Nabby joined her husband and her eldest son, John Quincy, at her husband's diplomatic post in Paris. Abigail had dreaded the thought of the long sea voyage, but in fact found the journey interesting. At first she found life in Paris difficult, and was rather overwhelmed by the novel experience of running a large house with a retinue of servants. However, as the months passed she began to enjoy herself: she made numerous friends, discovered a fondness for the theatre and opera, and was fascinated by Parisian women's fashions, although she ruefully admitted that she "would never be in the mode".
After 1785, she filled the role of wife of the first U.S. minister to the Court of St James's (Britain). In contrast to Paris, Abigail disliked London, where she had few friends and was in general cold-shouldered by polite society. One pleasant experience was her temporary guardianship of Thomas Jefferson's young daughter Mary (Polly), for whom Abigail came to feel a deep and lifelong love.
She and John returned in 1788 to their home in Quincy, Peacefield (also known as the "Old House"), which she set about vigorously enlarging and remodeling. It still stands and is open to the public as part of Adams National Historical Park.
John Adams was inaugurated as the second President of the United States on March 4, 1797, in Philadelphia. 12Abigail was not present at her husband's inauguration as she was tending to his dying mother. When John was elected President of the United States, Abigail continued a formal pattern of entertaining. She held a large dinner each week, made frequent public appearances, and provided for entertainment for the city of Philadelphia each Fourth of July. :
She took an active role in politics and policy, unlike the quiet presence of Martha Washington. She was so politically active, her political opponents came to refer to her as "Mrs. President". 11 Some people used Abigail to contact the president. :12 At times Abigail planted favorable stories about her husband in the press. :12 Abigail remained a staunch supporter of her husband's political career, supporting his policies, such as passing the Alien and Sedition Acts. :12As John's confidant, Abigail was often well informed on issues facing her husband's administration, at times including details of current events not yet known to the public in letters to her sister Mary and her son John Quincy. :
Adams brought the children of brother William Smith, her brother-in-law John Shaw, and her son Charles to live in the President's House during her husband's presidency because the children's respective fathers all struggled with alcoholism. Charles' daughter, Suzannah, was just 3 years old in 1800 when Adams brought her to live in the President's House in Philadelphia days before Charles' death.
With the relocation of the capital to Washington, D.C., in 1800, she became the first First Lady to reside at the White House, or President's House as it was then known.Adams moved into the White House in November 1800, living there for only the last four months of her husband's term. The city was wilderness, the President's House far from completion. She found the unfinished mansion in Washington "habitable" and the location "beautiful"; but she complained that, despite the thick woods nearby, she could find no one willing to chop and haul firewood for the First Family. Abigail did use the East Room of the White House to hang up the laundry. Adams' health, never robust, suffered in Washington.
After John's defeat in his presidential re-election campaign, the family retired to Peacefield in Quincy in 1800. Abigail followed her son's political career earnestly, as her letters to her contemporaries show. In later years, she renewed correspondence with Thomas Jefferson, having reached out to him upon the death of his daughter Maria Jefferson Eppes (Polly), whom Abigail had cared for and come to love when Polly was a small child in London, even though Jefferson's political opposition to her husband had hurt her deeply.She continued to raise her granddaughter Suzannah. She also raised her elder grandchildren, including George Washington Adams and a younger John Adams, while John Quincy Adams was minister to Russia. Adams' daughter, Nabby, died of breast cancer in 1813, having endured three years of severe pain.
Adams died in her home on October 28, 1818,of typhoid fever. She is buried beside her husband and near their son John Quincy in a crypt located in the United First Parish Church (also known as the "Church of the Presidents") in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was 73 years old, exactly two weeks shy of her 74th birthday. Her last words were, "Do not grieve, my friend, my dearest friend. I am ready to go. And John, it will not be long."
Biographer Lynne Withey argues for her conservatism because she: "feared revolution; she valued stability, believed that family and religion were the essential props of social order, and considered inequality a social necessity."Her 18th century mindset held that "improved legal and social status for women was not inconsistent with their essentially domestic role."
Abigail Adams wrote about the troubles and concerns she had as an 18th-century womanand she was an advocate of married women's property rights, more opportunities for women, particularly in the field of education. Women, she believed, should not submit to laws not made in their interest, nor should they be content with the simple role of being companions to their husbands. They should educate themselves and thus be recognized for their intellectual capabilities, so they could guide and influence the lives of their children and husbands. She is known for her March 1776 letter to John and the Continental Congress, requesting that they, "remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation."
John declined Abigail's "extraordinary code of laws," but acknowledged to Abigail, "We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes would fight."
Adams believed that slavery was evil and a threat to the American democratic experiment. A letter written by her on March 31, 1776, explained that she doubted most of the Virginians had such "passion for Liberty" as they claimed they did, since they "deprive[d] their fellow Creatures" of freedom.
A notable incident regarding this happened in Philadelphia in 1791, when a free black youth came to her house asking to be taught how to write. Subsequently, she placed the boy in a local evening school, though not without objections from a neighbor. Adams responded that he was "a Freeman as much as any of the young Men and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? ... I have not thought it any disgrace to my self to take him into my parlor and teach him both to read and write."
Adams was an active member of First Parish Church in Quincy, which became Unitarian in doctrine by 1753.Her theological views evolved over the course of her life. In a letter to her son near the end of her life, dated May 5, 1816, she wrote of her religious beliefs:
I acknowledge myself a unitarian – Believing that the Father alone, is the supreme God, and that Jesus Christ derived his Being, and all his powers and honors from the Father ... There is not any reasoning which can convince me, contrary to my senses, that three is one, and one three.
She also asked Louisa Adams in a letter dated January 3, 1818, "When will Mankind be convinced that true Religion is from the Heart, between Man and his creator, and not the imposition of Man or creeds and tests?"
Historian Joseph Ellis has found that the 1,200 letters between John and Abigail "constituted a treasure trove of unexpected intimacy and candor, more revealing than any other correspondence between a prominent American husband and wife in American history."Ellis (2011) says that Abigail, although self-educated, was a better and more colorful letter-writer than John, even though John was one of the best letter-writers of the age. Ellis argues that Abigail was the more resilient and more emotionally balanced of the two, and calls her one of the most extraordinary women in American history.
The Abigail Adams Cairn – a mound of rough stones – crowns the nearby Penn Hill from which she and her son, John Quincy Adams, watched the Battle of Bunker Hill and the burning of Charlestown. At that time she was minding the children of Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, who was killed in the battle.
An Adams Memorial has been proposed in Washington, D.C., honoring Adams, her husband and other members of their family. One of the subpeaks of New Hampshire's Mount Adams (whose main peak is named for her husband) is named in her honor.
Passages from Adams' letters to her husband figured prominently in songs from the Broadway musical 1776 .Virginia Vestoff played Adams in the original 1969 Broadway production of 1776 and recreated the role for the film version in 1972. On television, Kathryn Walker and Leora Dana in the 1976 PBS mini-series The Adams Chronicles . In the mini-series John Adams , which premiered in March 2008 on HBO, she was played by Laura Linney. Linney enjoyed portraying Adams, saying that "she is a woman of both passion and principle." A revolution-era Abigail, circa 1781, is portrayed by Michelle Trachtenberg, on the television series, Sleepy Hollow , in the season 2 episode, "Pittura Infamante" (January 19, 2015), her assistance being crucial in ending a series of unexplained murders from the period. Adams is a featured figure on Judy Chicago's installation piece The Dinner Party , being represented as one of the 999 names on the Heritage Floor.
The First Spouse Program under the Presidential $1 Coin Program authorizes the United States Mint to issue half-ounce $10 gold coins and bronze medal duplicatesto honor the first spouses of the United States. The Abigail Adams coin was released on June 19, 2007, and sold out in just hours. She is pictured on the back of the coin writing her most famous letter to John Adams. In February 2009 Coin World reported that some 2007 Abigail Adams medals were struck using the reverse from the 2008 Louisa Adams medal, apparently by mistake. These pieces, called mules, were contained within the 2007 First Spouse medal set. The U.S. Mint has not released an estimate of how many mules were made.
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|Ancestors of Abigail Adams|
Louisa May Alcott was an American novelist, short story writer and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886). Raised in New England by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott, she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Mercy Otis Warren was a poet, playwright and pamphleteer during the American Revolution. During the years before the American Revolution, Warren published poems and plays that attacked royal authority in Massachusetts and urged colonists to resist British infringements on colonial rights and liberties. She was married to James Warren, who was likewise heavily active in the independence movement.
Charles Francis Adams Sr. was an American historical editor, writer, politician, and diplomat. He was a son of President John Quincy Adams, and grandson of President John Adams, about whom he wrote a major biography. He was the father of Henry Adams.
Louisa Catherine Adams, was the First Lady of the United States from 1825 to 1829 during the presidency of John Quincy Adams. Born in London, she was the first First Lady to be born outside the United States or the preceding Thirteen Colonies—a distinction that would not be shared until 192 years later by Melania Trump.
Royall Tyler was an American jurist and playwright. He was born in Boston, graduated from Harvard University in 1776, and then served in the Massachusetts militia during the American Revolution. He was admitted to the bar in 1780, became a lawyer, and fathered eleven children. In 1801, he was appointed a Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. He wrote a play, The Contrast, which was produced in 1787 in New York City, shortly after George Washington's inauguration. It is considered the first American comedy. Washington attended the production, which was well-received, and Tyler became a literary celebrity.
Adams National Historical Park, formerly Adams National Historic Site, in Quincy, Massachusetts, preserves the home of Presidents of the United States John Adams and John Quincy Adams, of U.S. Envoy to Great Britain, Charles Francis Adams, and of writers and historians Henry Adams and Brooks Adams.
George Washington Adams was an American attorney and politician. He was the eldest son of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States. Adams served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and on the Boston City Council. He died of an apparent suicide at age 28.
Peacefield, also called Peace field or Old House, is a historic home formerly owned by the Adams family of Quincy, Massachusetts. It was the home of United States founding father and U.S. president John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams, and of U.S. president John Quincy Adams and his First Lady, Louisa Adams. It is now part of the Adams National Historical Park.
Judith Sargent Stevens Murray was an early American advocate for women's rights, an essay writer, playwright, poet, and letter writer. She was one of the first American proponents of the idea of the equality of the sexes—that women, like men, had the capability of intellectual accomplishment and should be able to achieve economic independence. Among many other influential pieces, her landmark essay "On the Equality of the Sexes" paved the way for new thoughts and ideas proposed by other feminist writers of the century.
Abigail "Abba" Alcott was an American activist for several causes and one of the first paid social workers in the state of Massachusetts. She was the wife of Transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott and mother of four daughters, including Civil War novelist Louisa May Alcott.
John Adams was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States, from 1797 to 1801. Before his presidency, he was a leader of the American Revolution that achieved independence from Great Britain, and he served as the first vice president of the United States. Adams was a dedicated diarist and regularly corresponded with many important figures in early American history, including his wife and adviser Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
Abigail "Nabby" AmeliaAdams Smith was the daughter of Abigail and John Adams, founding father and second President of the United States, and the sister of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States. She was named for her mother.
John Adams is a 2008 American television miniseries chronicling most of U.S. President John Adams's political life and his role in the founding of the United States. Paul Giamatti portrays John Adams. The miniseries was directed by Tom Hooper. Kirk Ellis wrote the screenplay based on the 2001 book John Adams. by David McCullough. The biopic of John Adams and the story of the first 50 years of the United States was broadcast in seven parts by HBO between March 16 and April 20, 2008. John Adams received widespread critical acclaim and many prestigious awards. The show won four Golden Globe awards and 13 Emmy awards, more than any other miniseries in history.
Charles Adams was the second son of President John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams.
Thomas Boylston Adams was the third and youngest son of the 2nd president of the United States, John and Abigail (Smith) Adams.
The Quincy family was a prominent political family in Massachusetts from the mid-17th century through to the early 20th century. It is connected to the Adams political family through Abigail Adams.
Colonel John Quincy was an American soldier, politician and member of the Quincy political family. His granddaughter Abigail Adams named her son, the future president John Quincy Adams, after him. The city of Quincy, Massachusetts, is named after him.
John Adams II was an American government functionary and businessman. The second son of President John Quincy Adams and Louisa Adams, he is usually called John Adams II to distinguish him from President John Adams, his famous grandfather.
John Peter De Wint Jr., known as J. P. De Wint (1787–1870) created the Long Wharf, later known as the Long Dock, in Beacon, New York in 1815 and owned an enormous estate in Dutchess County, which was eventually broken up into the streets of Fishkill-on-the-Hudson, or present day Beacon. He was a manufacturer and investor in steamboats and railroads during the immense boom in transportation in the mid 1800s along the Hudson which linked New York City to the rest of the country. He was married to the grand-daughter of John and Abigail Adams.
The following is a list of works about the spouses of Presidents of the United States. While this list is mainly about Presidental spouses, administrations with a bachelor or widowed President have a section on the individual that filled the role of First Lady. The list includes books and journal articles written in English after c.1900 as well as primary sources written by the individual themselves.
Some collectors have begun receiving a First Spouse medal mule – a piece bearing the obverse for Abigail Adams and a reverse intended for the Louisa Adams medal. The mules surfaced in some of the 2007 First Spouse sets...
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|New title|| Second Lady of the United States |
Title next held byAnn Gerry
| First Lady of the United States |