Abigail And John Adams


Michael Benton, Contributor

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abigail and john adamsJohn Adams' wife's name was Abigail and her story is as important as his. Abigail and John Adams were both central figures in the American War of Independence. Neither of them served in battle, but they sacrificed greatly so that future generations of Americans would live free from monarchy. Abigail, as the wife of John Adams, a leader in the Continental Congress and the second President of the United States, was equally strong in political ideology and shared her opinions openly. John and Abigail Adams' relationship has been the subject of great historical study as so much of their correspondence was maintained through the generations. When John Adams was off serving in the Continental Congress or spending years in Europe as a diplomat, Abigail was writing letters to him and other Founding Fathers in support of Revolution while also raising their children, one of whom would grow up to be the sixth President of the United States. Although they spent many years apart, Abigail Adams and John Adams remained strong in virtue and demanded the same from their children.

John Adams' wife and kids were not always present in his life as he was constantly on the move in his legal career first and then as a Founding Father and American diplomat. Adams wrote that he felt the strongest investment he could provide his family was ensuring they would live in a free and prosperous nation. He never doubted that the sacrifice they made to build a new, stronger nation was worth the time apart. Over 1200 letters were written from Abigail Adams to John Adams and vice versa, with politics as the dominant subject and concern for their children as well. John brought their eldest son, John Quincy Adams, along with him during his diplomatic assignment in Europe and Abigail came to stay with them, bringing their eldest daughter, Nabby. During this time, Abigail and John Adams' other children stayed with their relatives. When they returned to the United States, John began to serve as George Washington's Vice President and this lasted for two terms. He was then elected the second President of the United States and Abigail became the First Lady. She was so outspoken at this time, probably more so than any other First Lady ever, that she became known by Adams' opponents as "Mrs. President."

John Adams, Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson built a friendly relationship before his term as President which would be hindered by political differences. As John Adams' wife, Abigail wrote that Jefferson's political rivalry with her husband pained her immensely. In the presidential election of 1800, when Jefferson defeated John Adams, Abigail Adams stopped writing to the family rival altogether. She instead focused on the budding political career of her son, John Quincy Adams, who would soon be serving as the Secretary of State during the Monroe Administration, beginning in 1817. While he was off serving the nation, Abigail helped raise his children, her grandchildren, including Charles Francis Adams who would go on to become the Mayor of Quincy and represent Massachusetts in Congress. He also wrote a biography of John Adams and compiled some of the most relevant letters from Abigail Adams to John Adams into a bestselling book.