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

postponed Environmental History Seminar

Harvest for War: Fruits, Nuts, Imperialism, and Gas Mask Manufacture in the United States During ...

21Feb 5:15PM 2017

This session has been POSTPONED to Tuesday, May 9, at 5:15 PM. Part of a larger book length study, this essay examines the use of seemingly exotic foodstuffs and ...

Teacher Workshop

Women in the Era of the American Revolution

22Feb 9:00AM 2017
Registration fee: $40 (free for students)

Study the revolution through the words and artifacts of the women who lived it. Women were vital consumers (and boycotters) of imported goods, and they functioned as ...

Brown Bag

Constructing American Belatedness: The Archives of American Artists in Late Nineteenth-Century Paris

22Feb 12:00PM 2017

Thousands of US artists traveled to Paris between 1865 and 1914, at various stages of their careers and for various lengths of time. This project culls archival materials ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

The MHS is CLOSED on Monday, 20 February, for Presidents' Day.  Despite the holiday-shortened week, there is quite a bit of activity at the Society. Here's is what we have the calendar for the ...

Working with Google to Showcase MHS Content about U. S. Presidents

Selections from MHS’s two most important collections, the Adams Family Papers and the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, are now part of the Google Arts & Culture website. ...

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