Abigail became an amazing woman, entering Weymouth, Massachusetts as her parents second child on November 11, 1744. She was born to her mother, Elizabeth Quincy and her father William Smith, a Congregational minister. Some would say that her formal education was limited, however those who knew her could attest to her extensive self-education. Abigail devoted herself to the reading of the classics and studying the works of William Shakespeare, as well as the poetry and writings of John Milton.
Early in life Abigail struggled with her health, but she was very wise with her time. In her day it was common for girls not to attend a formal school of learning, but she spent a great deal of time on studies and writing to family and friends. She was given access to her father's extensive library and immersed herself in the study of theology, philosophy, law and government. Possibly due to her personal experience Abigail was later very much an advocate of the public school system. Naturally, Abigail particularly desired for girls to have just as much of an quality of education as boys were given.
As America celebrates Women's History Month it is natural to reflect on past times and compare them to modern days. One fact about Abigail that may surprise many young people is that she became a bride at the tender age of nineteen. In 1761 Abigail was introduced to her future husband, John Adams, a lawyer whom she married three years later. Their union brought them a baby girl nearly nine months later and they named her Abigail, affectionately calling her "Nabby" all her life. The couple went on to have three sons and two daughters that sadly died very young.
White House Presentation on Women's History
One of the First First Ladies
Abigail's mothering, assisting in the running of the home and helping farm their land all began
In the more than 1,100 letters exchanged between Abigail and John one can easily view history unfolding. Some have referred to the letters as political exchanges as much policy was discussed by the two particularly when John became president. Abigail campaigned for the ladies and insisted that they be treated as fairly as men, which undoubtedly puts her in one of the lead spots of greatest woman in history. In the letters John posed many questions to Abigail, and she in turn advised him and also kept him updated on people's responses to legislation, news and especially the American Revolution.
Abigail was an amazing woman and wife to John splitting her time between her family responsibilities in Massachusetts and periods of joining her husband as he served in France as the first American minister, and as he served as vice president and later president of America. The pair did not always agree and Abigail did not shy away from speaking her mind such as in the matter of dealing with France during its Revolution.
The End that Lives On
Once John lost the election of 1800 the couple knew they would at last be going home and would be able to spend more time together. They buried two more children, but also walked side by side in their last years together on the family farm. Abigail passed away at age 73 and Women's History Month is the perfect time to remember her life, and to reflect on her strength as a woman in a country still finding its way, her devotion as a mother and her unwavering support as a wife.
Abigail Adams Documentary
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