Adams. Pastel by Benjamin Blyth, c. 1766
Smith Adams was born November 11, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts,
to the Reverend William and Elizabeth (Quincy) Smith. She
had no formal schooling, but her education included reading
works by Shakespeare, John Milton, and Alexander Pope. On
October 25, 1764, she married John Adams, then a young lawyer
in Braintree. The couple had five children, four of whom lived
to adulthood, including future president John Quincy Adams.
John Adams's protracted absences from home (first while traveling
the court circuits and later while at the Continental Congress
and on diplomatic assignments abroad) often left Abigail with
the children to raise, a farm to manage, the household and
tenants to supervise, and extended family and friends to care
forall while the Revolution in Boston unfolded on her
letters she exchanged with John and other family members reveal
her cares and worries, her frank opinions and advice, and
give an extraordinary view of civilian life during the Revolution.
She also took an active interest in the political events of
her day; in her letter to John on March 31, 1776, she made
one of the earliest known arguments for women's political
rights in U.S. history. Abigail Adams died October 28, 1818,
at home in Quincy.
more information about the Adamses and an extended biography
of Abigail Adams, please visit The
Adams Papers on the MHS website. You
can also view a facsimile of the
31, 1776, letter
she wrote to John Adams.