his parents' eldest son, John Quincy is expected to excel in many ways.
His older sister, Abigail (Nabby), shares names with their mother. As
a female in the eighteenth century, she escapes many of these demands
but also, despite her great abilities, loses out on many opportunities.
John Quincy has two younger brothers, Charles and Thomas Boylston. Charles
is three years younger, and Thomas Boylston is five years JQA's junior.
Charles nor Thomas Boylston follows his father's or brother's paths to
JQA is expected to write to his siblings when he is overseas, and he usually
complies. The letters of this section are from JQA's first two trips to
Europe. The last
letter, from sister Abigail, is to John Quincy when he is in St. Petersburg
as private secretary to the U.S. minister to Russia.
With his younger brothers, JQA sometimes sounds like a parent. He warns
Thomas in a letter of October 1, 1778, that all moments of childhood are
precious, advice he offers to encourage the six-year-old to begin learning
Adams Smith. Oil portrait by Mather Brown, ca. 1785. Courtesy of the Adams
National Historic Site, National Park Service.
Adams. Miniature oil on ivory (?) by an unknown artist, c. 1795. Reproduced
in "Wide Awake, an Illustrated Magazine," November 1888.
Boylston Adams. Miniature oil on ivory by Parker, 1795.