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|Abigail Smith Adams
wife of John Adams; known for never being shy about offering political opinions
Abigail Smith was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, on November 11, 1744. She was the daughter of Reverend William Smith, pastor of Weymouth's First Church, and Elizabeth Quincy Smith, who was descended from a long line of prosperous, educated, and well-respected New Englanders. Although she received no formal education, her father maintained a fairly extensive library, and she was an avid reader.
On October 25, 1764, Abigail married John Adams, a Harvard graduate pursuing a law career. Although he was eleven years her senior, the couple had a long and happy marriage, despite his being away for long periods of time while in public service. She would ultimately bear him five children -- Abigail (1765), John Quincy (1767), Susanna (1768, died at thirteen months), Charles (1770), and Thomas (1772); one child was stillborn in 1778.
Over the course of their marriage, Abigail became somewhat used to being separated from her husband for long periods at a time. She also became quite adept at running a large household and managing the family farm, and even made investment decisions. In fact, she eventually began referring to the house and property as "my own affairs," rather than "ours," in her letters to John.
Abigail is today best known by the volumes of letters she wrote to John during the course of their marriage. In these letters she often made her political beliefs known, and was seldom shy about offering her opinions as to what issues John and other leaders should address. Some of the issues she spoke on included slavery (she opposed it), equal education for boys and girls, and women's rights. In one letter, she urged John to work for the addition of women's rights in the Declaration of Independence, but he was unsuccessful.
When John Adams became President in 1797, Abigail took to her new duties as First Lady easily. She entertained frequently, and was never shy about offering her opinions and giving advice to her husband. She continued to entertain formally after moving to the new capital in Washington, D.C., even though the White House remained unfinished and the city itself was isolated. The couple spent their final years together in Quincy.
Abigail Smith Adams died on October 28, 1818. She is buried next to her husband in the United First Parish Church.
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This page was last updated on June 29, 2018.