Woman of the Century/Abigail Adams
ADAMS, Mrs. Abigail, wife of John Adams, second President of the United States, born 22nd November, 1744, in Weymouth, Mass. She was a daughter of the Rev. William Smith, for forty years minister of the Congregational church in Weymouth. Her mother was Elizabeth Quincy, a great-great-granddaughter of Rev. Thomas Shepard, an eminent Puritan clergyman of Cambridge, and a great-grandniece of the Rev. John Norton of Boston. Abigail Adams was one of the most distinguished women of the Revolutionary period. She was in delicate health in youth and unable to attend school, but she became a far better scholar than most of the women of her day. She read widely and wrote in terse, vigorous and elegant language. Her youth was passed in converse with persons of learning, experience and political sagacity. She was married on 25th October, 1764, to John Adams, then a young lawyer practicing in Boston. During the next ten years her quiet and happy life was devoted to her husband and her four children, three sons and one daughter. Then came the troubled times that were marked by the disputes between the Colonies and England. Mrs. Adams seconded her husband in his opposition to the English oppression, and encouraged him in his zeal and determination in urging the Colonies to declare their independence. She remained in Braintree, Mass., while Mr. Adams was absent as a delegate to the Continental Congress and afterwards on diplomatic missions in Europe. In 1784 she joined her husband in France, and in 1785 they went to London, whither Mr. Adams was sent as Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Great Britain. Remembering the patriotic zeal and independence of Mrs. Adams during the Revolution, George III and his queen, still smarting over the loss of the American Colonies, treated her with marked rudeness. Mrs. Adams remembered their rudeness, and afterwards wrote: "Humiliation for Charlotte is no sorrow for me." After spending one year in France and three in England, Mrs. Adams returned to the United States in 1788. In 1789, after her husband was appointed Vice-President of the United States, she went to reside in Philadelphia, Pa., then the seat of government. In 1797 Mr. Adams was chosen President. In 1800, after his defeat, they retired to Quincy, Mass., where Mrs. ABIGAIL ADAMS. Adams died 28th October, 1818. She was a woman of elevated mind and strong powers of judgment and observation. Her letters have been collected and published with a biographical sketch by her grandson, Charles F. Adams, in a volume entitled "Familiar Letters of John Adams and his Wife, Abigail Adams, During the Revolution."