November 11, 1744
Born In: Weymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Died On: October 28, 1818
Career: First Lady Of The United States, Political Advisor, Women's Rights Activist
Abigail Adams, a woman of extraordinary forte and America’s second First Lady, witnessed the rise and fall of American Revolution and saw her young nation crusade towards independence. Married to John Adams, second president of America, Abigail led an exemplary life, epitomizing the woman of colonial, Revolutionary and early post-Revolutionary America. Better feted for her unwavering disposition, Abigail was much quoted for her strong stance on women's rights and independence. A homemaker, a finance manager and personal advisor to her President husband John Adams, Abigail led an exceptional life supporting her husband and rearing up her children all along. Born to an ecclesiastical family, Abigail had little schooling to her advantage, but being upfront and determined as she was, she chanced every opportunity to satiate her longing for knowledge. To know more on the life and feats of Abigail Adams, read on.
Abigail Adams, celebrated through history as a political observer, prolific writer, and influential First Lady, was born in the North Parish Congregational Church in Weymouth, Massachusetts, on November 11, 1744. Born to Elizabeth Quincy Smith and Reverend William Smith, Abigail’s lineage reeked of strong political pedigree. Her mother Elizabeth hailed from the reputed Quincey family that boasted of strong ecclesiastical ancestry. Her father, William Smith was a liberal Congregationalist just like her forefathers and was held in great esteem. Abigail was a frail child, something that interfered with her formal schooling, a regret that lived and died with her. Although Abigail failed to attend any formal schooling just like her two sisters, Mary and Betsy, her mother took great care to teach her daughters to read, write and cipher. However, much of Abigail’s significant edification came from scouring the large libraries of her father and grandfather that opened her doors to the enlightened world of English and French literature, Bible, history, philosophy, essays, poetry and more. Her mother and grandmother influenced much of her social graces and etiquettes that eventually played a major role in making her one of the most influential women of her day.
One of the most momentous events that altered the course of Abigail’s life and set history in motion was her alliance to John Adams, a union that was meant to be just more than a marriage of hearts and minds. John Adams had known Smith family for long but barely ever paid any attention to frail Abigail who was nine years junior to him. However, fate had other plans and John soon found himself attracted to the petite, shy 17-year-old brunette, who surprisingly chanced to know so much about poetry, philosophy and politics, unlike the other women of her time. Abigail married John on October 25, 1764. It was a happy union that lasted for more than half a century. Abigail went on to mother five children after that and excelled both as a homemaker and a personal advisor to John.
Unlike her prior counterpart, Martha Washington first First Lady of America, Abigail actively participated in politics and policy. Such was her contribution that her political opponents often referred to her with the tag of "Mrs. President". Apart from showing her interest in political affairs, Abigail Adams championed the cause of women education and demanded maximum property rights for married women with her radical views on women education and emancipation of rights. She was of the view that women’s role in the society wasn’t just restricted to a homemaker. She believed that women should equip themselves with proper education to serve their home and society in an enlightened way. Abigail campaigned against slavery too which she saw as a threat to American democratic swing.
John Adams spent most of his early married life away from Abigail, in Boston where he labored hard to establish himself as a lawyer and also got involved in the political upheaval that shook the nation then. Abigail, however, stayed back at Braintree (later Quincy), Massachusetts, and took care of her family and farm. She fought against wartime shortages and difficult living conditions as her husband stayed away serving the nation. Abigail joined John to his posts in Paris in 1784 and Great Britain in 1785. During all this times, she surprised John with her keen observation and comments on politics, customs and society. Abigail and John returned to a newly acquired house in Braintree and stayed their till the rest of their lives. From 1789 to 1801, Abigail, took up the prestigious position of the First Lady as wife of the President then, and became a trusted political advisor to John, while she dabbled with her social and domestic responsibilities. Her firm support and encouragement of her husband in his career was evident, as she boldly articulated her opinions in private and in public. Abigail and John retired to Quincy in 1801 and stayed together for 17 years till Abigail died.
Abigail Adams died at the age of 73 of typhoid fever on October 28, 1818. She is buried beside her husband in a crypt located in the United First Parish Church (also known as the Church of the Presidents) in Quincy, Massachusetts. Her last words were, "Do not grieve, my friend, my dearest friend. I am ready to go. And John, it will not be long."
Many memorials have been attributed to Abigail Adams, one of the most well-known of them being the Cairn, built on the Penn Hill from where she and he son, John Quincy, witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill and the burning of Charlestown.It has been proposed to set up an Adams Memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring Abigail, her husband and other members of their family. Under the Presidential $1 Coin Act, which honors the first spouses of the United States, Abigail Adam’s coin was released on June 19, 2007.
1744: Abigail Smith was born
1759: John Adams and Abigail Smith met for the first time.
1764: John Adams and Abigail Smith were married in Weymouth.
1765: Abigail's gave birth to her first child, Abigail Amelia ("Nabby").
1767: Abigail gives birth to her first son John Quincy
1768: Abigail gives birth to her second daughter, Susanna.
1770: Susanna dies at 13 months in Boston and her second son Charles is born in the same year.
1772: A third son, Thomas Boylston, is born in Braintree.
1775: Abigail's mother dies in Braintree's dysentery epidemic.
1776: Abigail sends John her "Remember the Ladies" letter asking him to consider women's rights, alongside men's, when new national laws are created.
1777: Abigail gives birth to a stillborn daughter named Elizabeth on John Quincy's 10th birthday.
1783: Abigail joins her husband in England
1797: Becomes the First Lady
1818: Abigail died of typhoid at the age of 73.