Abigail Adams, 1744 - 1818

portrait of Abigail Adams
Oil on Canvas by Gilbert Stuart (early 1800s)
43

Born: 11 November 1744, Weymouth, Province of Massachusetts Bay
Died: 28 October 1818, Quincy, Massachusetts

As was normal for girls at the time, Abigail was given no education but had free access to her father's library and encouragement from her mother, grandmother, and aunts. Although sickly as a child she was flourishing when, at seventeen, she surprised her third cousin, John Adams, with the depth of her knowledge on many subjects. Two years later they began the marriage that would give them six children and fifty-four years together. "Together", in this case, included a great deal of separation and Abigail was often left in charge of the family and farm while John was about the business of starting a new country. We can be grateful for their separation: It is from the huge collection of letters she wrote, mostly to her husband, that we know her and have learned a great many details of life in the colony and in the early United States. Over twelve hundred of her letters have been preserved and many of them were compiled and published in 1840 by her grandson, Charles Francis Adams. Although politics had led to hard feelings between the Adamses and Thomas Jefferson, when his daughter died Abigail sent her condolences and the correspondence between them healed that rift. Those letters reveal a strong opposition to slavery and an early demand for equal rights and education for women. She died of typhoid fever at age 73, John was, of course, away from home and her last words to him were in a letter. Abigail Adams was the first second lady of the US and the second first lady, although those terms weren't then in use. She was also the first to be the wife of one president and the mother of another.

Biography from Wikipedia and National First Ladies Library

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