Louisa Catherine Adams

LOUISA CATHERINE JOHNSON ADAMS, the wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in London on 12 February 1775, the second daughter of Joshua Johnson of Maryland, and Catherine Nuth Johnson. Her father represented the Maryland firm of Wallace, Davidson, and Johnson in London. From 1778 to 1783, while England and France were at war, the Johnson family lived in Nantes, France, and Louisa and her older sister boarded at a convent school for several years. Following the peace the Johnson family returned to London where Joshua Johnson served as the first U.S. consul (1790–1797). Louisa and John Quincy Adams became engaged in 1796 when the latter, then U.S. minister to the Netherlands, was in London for the ratification of Jay’s Treaty and were married in that city on 26 July 1797, in the parish church of All Hallows Barking. 

            Louisa accompanied her husband on his diplomatic assignments to Berlin (1797–1801), St. Petersburg (1809–1815), and London (1815–1817).  When John Quincy’s career called the couple to Washington the Adamses lived at first (1803–1808) with Louisa’s family, who had settled there following the collapse of Joshua Johnson’s London business in 1797.  During their later residence at the capitol the Adamses' social life was particularly demanding.  Louisa hosted weekly receptions at their home on F Street when John Quincy Adams was secretary of state and presided at dinners and levees in the White House when first lady.

            Louisa stayed on at the F Street residence following John Quincy’s death in 1848.  She suffered a stroke the following year and died on 15 May 1852.  Of particular note in the Adams Papers are Louisa Catherine Adams’ autobiographical writings (“Adventures of a Nobody,” “Record of a Life, or My Story,” “Narrative of a Journey from Russia to France, 1815”) and her journal letters to her in-laws, John and Abigail Adams.

Children of Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams

The Diary and Autobiograph of Louisa Catherine Adams will soon be available online as part of the Adams Papers Digital Editions, although with the Adams Family Correspondence. 

Upcoming Events

Brown Bag

“Watering of the Olive Plant”: Catechisms and Catechizing in Early New England

17Oct 12:00PM 2018

Early New Englanders produced and used an unusually large number of catechisms. These catechisms shaped relations of faith for church membership, provided content for ...

Author Talk

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

17Oct 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the ...

African American History Seminar

Losing Laroche: The Story of the Titanic’s Only Black Passenger

18Oct 5:15PM 2018

Losing Laroche is the first in-depth study of the only black family on board the RMS Titanic. The story of the Haitian Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche and his ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

This week we have a pair of Brown Bag talks, two evening programs, the first seminar in a new series, and a sold out tour. Details below: - Monday, 15 October, 12:00 PM: Examining Land ...

New Transcriptions Released for John Quincy Adams' Diary

Amid his daily whirl of diplomatic duties, John Quincy Adams paused to reflect on his latest dispatch to President James Monroe. After several rewrites, Adams had drafted a course of action that would ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?