Founding Fathers Blog

Abigail Adams: Mother’s Day Thoughts

May 8th, 2012

Mothers Day is coming up. For some reason this allowed my thoughts to turn to Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams. When John and Abigail were courting, they fell deeply in love. Yet, Abigail’s mother was against their marriage, feeling that Abigail would be marrying beneath her status.

“John Adams is nothing but a lawyer!  And lawyers are the most despicable group in New England. Everybody agrees. They ought to be outlawed,” her mother proclaimed.

Nevertheless, John and Abigail were married on October 25, 1764. As for John, his marriage to Abigail was the most important and significant decision of the years to come. Abigail proved to be the ballast John needed in his life. Among other things, John said that Abigail was the closest and most forthright advisor to him during his presidency.

Abigail and John had five children together. They were Abigail (Nabby), John Quincy (who later became the 6th President of the United States), Susanna (Suky–who passed away at the age of 14 months), Charles and Thomas.

Abigail supposed that “a woman who allowed herself to be confined to a narrow circle of domesticity with no higher sites in mind, must be miserable. More to be pitied, however, was the woman of both genius and taste who could not ‘cheerfully’ leave her intellectual pursuits to tend to the daily cares of the prudent housewife.”

Abigail was left to tend to “all the cares of a prudent housewife” as well as those of a man of the house for much of her married life.  In 1778 John was sent by Congress to France to join with Benjamin Franklin to negotiate for much needed financial aid. John remained in France, Holland or England for ten trying years. Abigail was left in charge of all things at home and on the farm.  She finally traveled to Europe to Join John in 1784.

Upon their return home, both John and Abigail were given heroes’ welcomes in Massachussetts. John became Vice President to the First President of the United States, George Washington. When George refused to run for a third term, John Adams was elected President of the United States. After the election and in 1800, President and Mrs. Adams were the first to occupy the President’s Mansion, later to be called the White House. The mansion was not yet completed and Abigail was known to use the East Ballroom to hang the family’s laundry out to dry.

Forty-four years after their beautiful love story began, Abigail died on October 28, 1818 from the effects of typhus fever. It was only 3 days after their 44th wedding anniversary. John and Abigail were not only husband and wife for all those years, but were best friends, confidants, and equal companions.

Four years after her death, John wrote about his sweetheart to his granddaughter, Caroline:

“This lady was far more beautiful than Lady Russell (an admired Englishwoman of the time), had a brighter genius, more information, a more refined taste, and at least her equal in virtues of the heart. She also had equal fortitude and firmness of character, equal resignation to the will of Heaven . . .equal in all the virtues of the Christian life.”

Oh that sons and husbands could say the same about their mothers and wives.


1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sending this timely article. I have so enjoyed your book, “Founding Fathers, Uncommon Heroes.” I also enjoyed reading the other posts on you blog…those of John Adams etc.. So many people of today’s time would benifit by reading and gaining an understanding of those great people and good that they left for us.

    Comment by James (Jim) Olson — May 12, 2012 @ 6:27 am

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