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. 

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Environmental History Seminar

The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919 ...

16Jan 5:15PM 2018

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 ...

Brown Bag

Skulls, Selves, and Showmanship: Itinerant Phrenologists in 19th-Century America

17Jan 12:00PM 2018

"Come, then, one and all, and learn to know yourselves." With these words, a traveling phrenologist advertised his lecture to the public. Proponents of phrenology ...

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Pauline Maier Memorial Lecture - Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

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

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution’s creation ...

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