Abigail Adams Biography

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Abigail Smith Adams
Born:
Place: Weymouth, Massachusetts
Date: 1744, November 11

Father:
William Smith, 1706, January 29, Charlestown, Massachusetts, died 1783, September, Weymouth, Massachusetts. He was a Congregationalist minister.

Mother:
Elizabeth Quincy, born 1721, Braintree, Massachusetts, died 1775, Weymouth, Massachusetts; married in 1740. She was the daughter of John Quincy, a member of the colonial Governor's council and colonel of the militia. Mr. Quincy was also Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly, a post he held for 40 years until his death at age 77. He died in 1767; three years into his granddaughter Abigail Smith's marriage to John Adams, and his interest in government and his career in public service influenced her.

Ancestry:
English, Welsh; Abigail Adams' paternal great-grandfather, Thomas Smith, was born 1645, May 10, and immigrated to Charleston, Massachusetts from Dartmouth, England. One of her great-great-great-great grandmothers came from a Welsh family. Her well-researched ancestral roots precede her birth some six centuries and are traced back to royal lines in France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Holland, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Switzerland.

Birth Order and Siblings:
Second born; one brother, three sisters, Mary Smith Cranch (1741-1811), William Smith (1746-1787), Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody (1750-1815)

Physical Appearance:
5' 1", brown hair, brown eyes

Religious Affiliation:
Congregationalist; she was buried in the Unitarian faith of her husband.

Education:
Although Abigail Adams was later known for advocating an education in the public schools for girls that was equal to that given to boys, she herself had no formal education. She was taught to read and write at home, and given access to the extensive libraries of her father and maternal grandfather, taking a special interest in philosophy, theology, Shakespeare, the classics, ancient history, government and law.

Occupation before Marriage:
No documentation exists to suggest any involvement of Abigail Adams as a young woman in her father's parsonage activities. She recalled that in her earliest years, she was often in poor health. Reading and corresponding with family and friends occupied most of her time as a young woman. She did not play cards, sing or dance.

Marriage:
19 years old, married 1764, October 25 to John Adams, lawyer (1735-1826), in Smith family home, Weymouth, Massachusetts, wed in matrimony by her father, the Reverend Smith. After the ceremony, they drove in a horse and carriage to a cottage that stood beside the one where John Adams had been born and raised. This became their first home. They moved to Boston in a series of rented homes before buying a large farm, "Peacefield," in 1787, while John Adams was Minister to Great Britain.

Children:
Three sons and two daughters; Abigail "Nabby" Amelia Adams Smith (1765–1813), John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), Susanna Adams (1768–1770), Charles Adams (1770–1800), Thomas Boylston Adams (1772–1832)

Occupation after Marriage:
Abigail Adams gave birth to her first child ten days shy of nine months after her marriage, thus working almost immediately as a mother. She also shared with her husband the management of the household finances and the farming of their property for sustenance, while he also practiced law in the nearby city of Boston.

When John Adams went to Philadelphia in 1774 to serve as his colony's delegate to the First Continental Congress, Abigail Adams remained home. The separation prompted the start of a lifelong correspondence between them, forming not only a rich archive that reflected the evolution of a marriage of the Revolutionary and Federal eras, but a chronology of the public issues debated and confronted by the new nation's leaders. The letters reflect not only Abigail Adams' reactive advice to the political contentions and questions that John posed to her, but also her own observant reporting of New...
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