Abigail Smith Adams

Abigail Smith Adams

Wife of the 2nd President of the United States
Date of Birth: 11.11.1744
Country: USA

  1. Abigail Smith Adams: Biography
  2. Early Life and Family
  3. Education and Enlightenment
  4. Marriage and Family Life
  5. Role in Politics
  6. Legacy and Death

Abigail Smith Adams: Biography

Abigail Smith Adams, the wife of the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams, and mother of the 6th President, John Quincy Adams, was a prominent figure in American history. She was the first Second Lady of the United States and the second First Lady, serving from March 4, 1797, to March 4, 1801.

Early Life and Family

Abigail Smith was born on November 11, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, to Reverend William Smith and Elizabeth Smith, née Quincy. Her maternal side, the Quincy family, produced several notable politicians in Massachusetts. Dorothy Quincy, the wife of John Hancock, the first governor of Massachusetts, was a relative of Abigail. She was also a great-granddaughter of Reverend John Norton, the founder of the Old Ship Church in Hingham, Massachusetts, the only surviving public building from the 17th century in the state. Many of her ancestors were Congregationalist ministers and leaders in the local community. Her father emphasized the importance of reason and morality in her upbringing.

Education and Enlightenment

Due to her delicate health, Abigail was educated at home by her mother and older sisters. Her father, grandfather, and uncles had amassed a vast library, which the sisters used to study English and French literature. Abigail showed exceptional intellectual development and her ideas on women's rights and government played an indirect but significant role in the foundation of the United States. She became one of the most educated women to hold the title of First Lady.

Marriage and Family Life

Abigail and John had known each other since childhood, as they were cousins. However, it was not until 1762 that John noticed Abigail's transformation into a shy seventeen-year-old girl who was always engrossed in books. He was impressed by her knowledge of poetry, philosophy, and politics – subjects that were unusual for women at that time. Although Abigail's father approved of the marriage, her mother was horrified that her daughter was marrying a rural lawyer who still smelled of cows. However, she eventually relented. They married on October 25, 1764, in the Smiths' home in Weymouth, with the bride's father officiating the ceremony. After the reception, the couple set off in a one-horse carriage to their new home, a small cottage on the farm John inherited from his father in Braintree, Massachusetts (later renamed Quincy), where they lived before moving to Boston.

Their marriage lasted over half a century and was a happy one. Abigail gave birth to five children in the first ten years of their marriage, but tragically, their third child, Susanna Adams, died before reaching the age of two. She also experienced a miscarriage during her sixth pregnancy. As John's work demanded constant travel, the responsibility of raising the children and managing the household fell on Abigail, who raised them according to her family's traditions.

Role in Politics

In 1784, Abigail joined her husband during his diplomatic mission to Paris. In March 1797, when John Adams became the second President of the United States, Abigail became the first hostess of the White House, which was then called the President's House, after the capital moved to Washington. Unlike Martha Washington's quiet presence, Abigail Adams actively participated in politics. She was so politically active that her opponents referred to her as "Mrs. President." After John Adams's presidency ended, the family returned to Quincy, where Abigail closely followed her son's political career.

Legacy and Death

Abigail Adams passed away on October 28, 1818, just shy of her 74th birthday, from typhoid fever. Her final words were an attempt to comfort her husband, who outlived her by almost eight years. Abigail Smith Adams left a lasting legacy as an intelligent and influential woman who played a significant role in shaping the early years of the United States. Her letters to John Adams, filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics, remain invaluable historical documents, providing firsthand accounts of the American Revolutionary War.