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Abigail Smith Adams


ADAMS, ABIGAIL SMITH (1744-1818), wife of John Adams (q.v.), second President of the United States, was born in Weymouth, Mass., on Nov. 23, 1744. She was the daughter of William Smith, a Congregational minister, and was descended through her mother, Elizabeth Quincy, from Thomas Shepard of Cambridge, a noted Puritan divine. Despite scanty education and delicate health, she became a terse and vigorous writer and exercised much influence on the social and political life of her time. In 1764 she was married to John Adams, then practising law in Boston. During the first ten years of this union she lived in peace and quiet, though always ardently sharing her husband's interests in the growing disputes that culminated in war. In this period she became the mother of a daughter and three sons, one of whom, John Quincy Adams, rose to the presidency of the United States. But during the second ten years of married life she was practically separated from her husband, who was absent attending Congress and serving on diplomatic missions in Europe. She resolutely supported him in his insistence upon the Declara tion of Independence and aided him and his cause with loyal zeal during the many dark days that followed. In 1784 she rejoined her husband in France and in 1785 accompanied him to England, where, as the wife of the first minister of the United States, the then but newly lost American colonies, to the court of George III., she met with social discourtesies which she long resented. From 5789 to 1801, when her husband was successively vice president and president, she lived in a simple manner in Washing ton. Since the publication by C. F. Adams in 1876 of The Familiar Letters of John Adams and his Wife increased interest has cen tred in the career of the stout-hearted Puritan woman who was both the wife and the mother of a President of the United States. She died at Braintree, now Quincy, Mass., on Oct. 28, 1818.


Elizabeth Richards, Abigail Adams and Her Bibliography.-Laura Elizabeth Richards, Abigail Adams and Her Times (1917) ; Gamaliel Bradford, Portraits of American Women (1919) ; Dorothie Bobbe, Abigail Adams, the Second First Lady (1929).

president, john and united