|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.
Abigail Adams Home www.abigailadams.org
John Quincy Adams
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