Abigail Smith Adams, Mother of John Quincy Adams

Barbara Pierce Bush, Mother of George Walker Bush

All of the First Ladies of the United States have been amazing women, who led interesting and exciting lives. However, there are two First Ladies who have done something the others did not do - raise a son to become the President of the United States. Even though many, many years separate them, these two ladies have many things in common. In fact, according to the National First Ladies' Library website, and their article entitled, “First Lady Biography: Barbara Bush,” “She also shares several family lines with Abigail Adams, the only other woman who was both wife and mother to U.S. Presidents.[3575] Look for the similarities as you read about First Lady Abigail Smith Adams and First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush.

Mothers, First Ladies of The United States, and Mothers of Presidents

First Ladies of The United States – The White House was Home(96806)Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HobanNorthPortico.jpg


First Lady of the United States Abigail Smith Adams

Abigail Adams – One of Two First Ladies of The United States to Raise a Son to be PresidentCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Abigail_Adams.jpg


Born on November 11, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, she was the second child born to William and Elizabeth Smith. Her parents and grandparents where well respected and highly regarded members of their colony. Since public education was not available for young women, her parents taught her and her sisters to read and write. Reading enabled Abigail to expand her knowledge, and she benefited from having a large library both at her home and at her maternal grandparents’ home.[3576]

Although she was distantly related to John Adams, it wasn’t until he visited her family home, with Richard Cranch, who was engaged to Abigail’s older sister, that he became attracted to her. During his visit, he was amazed to learn of her scholarly intellect. Over the course of the next two years, they would correspond and develop a deep friendship. This was also the beginning of a lifelong correspondence - one that would keep them close, even though they were miles apart.

On October 25, l764, a few days before John turned 29, he and Abigail, who was not yet 20 years old, were married. They were married by her father, Reverend Smith, in a ceremony at her family home. Afterward, they returned to a small house he had inherited in Braintree.

They immediately began their family, and they were to have six children: Abigail “Nabby” Adams (July 14, 1765 – August 15, 1813), John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848), Grace Susanna “Suky” Adams (December 28, 1768 – February 4,1770), Charles Adams (May 29, 1770 – November 30, 1800), Thomas Boylston Adams (September 15, 1772 – March 13, 1832), and Elizabeth, who was stillborn in 1777.

Over the years, as John Adam’s legal practice grew, and he became active in politics, there were more and more times that Abigail and he were separated. She was proud of him and his achievements, and she was pleased that he was selected to attend the Continental Congresses, where he played a critical roll in establishing the country. While he was away, Mrs. Adams stayed at home to raise their children and to educate them. She also oversaw the running of their farm, and she received high praise from her husband for her abilities.

When John Adams was appointed the United States Minister to the Netherlands, in 1782, she did not go with him. But in 1784, when John Adams was in Paris, serving in a diplomatic role, Mrs. Adams and Nabby traveled there to join him and their son John Quincy. His next assignment was as United States Minister to Great Britain (1785-1788). They returned home to Massachusetts, in 1788, but their time there was short because he was elected to serve under President George Washington as the1st Vice President of the United States (1789-1797). This made Abigail Adams this country's first Second Lady. Next, he was elected to serve as the 2nd President of the United States (1797-1801).[3577] When President John Adams was sworn in as the President of the United States, his wife, Abigail Adams, became the First Lady of the United States.

When, in 1791, her health began to fail, Mrs. Adams found it necessary to spend more time in Quincy, Massachusetts, to rest and regain her strength. Once better, she would return to carry out her duties. When the capital was moved to Washington, in 1800, President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams were the first family to occupy the President’s House, later called the White House. When her health allowed it, First Lady Abigail Adams was active socially and politically.

Abigail Adams died at the age of 73, in her home in Quincy, Massachusetts, on October 28, 1818. She did not live to see her son, John Quincy Adams, sworn in as the 6thPresident of the United States, on March 4, 1825.

First Ladies of The United States to Raise a Son to be President – President John Quincy AdamsCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Quincy_Adams_by_GPA_Healy,_1858.jpg


First Lady of the United States Barbara Pierce Bush

Barbara Bush – One of Two First Ladies of The United States to Raise a Son to be PresidentCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Barbara_Bush_post_presidential_portrait.jpg


Born on June 8, 1925, in Flushing, New York, she was the third child born to Marvin and Pauline Pierce. She was born into a prominent well-to-do family. Her education was received in both public and private schools.

While home on her Christmas break, from Ashley Hall, a boarding school in South Carolina, she attended a Christmas party. It was at this Christmas party that she met her future husband, George Herbert Walker Bush. George Bush, 17 years old, was a senior at Phillips Academy Andover, and she was 16 years old. After graduation from Phillips Academy, George Bush trained to be a Navy pilot. Before he left for duty in World War II, they became engaged. Barbara Pierce entered Smith College to continue her education, but when George Bush was home on leave, in late 1944, she dropped out of college. Barbara Pierce and George Bush were married on January 6, 1945.

Over the next few months, the newlyweds moved and set up residences in Michigan, Maine, and Virginia while he fulfilled his military duties. When the war ended, their next move was to New Haven, Connecticut, where he attended Yale University. It was here, their first child, George Walker Bush, was born on July 6, 1946. Their next child, Pauline Robinson Bush, was born on December 20, 1949, but died from leukemia on October 11, 1953. They were to have four more children: John Ellis “Jeb” Bush was born on February 11, 1953, Neil Mallon Bush was born on January 22, 1955, Marvin Pierce Bush was born on October 22, 1956, and Dorothy Bush was born on August 18, 1959.[3578]

Barbara Bush was a stay at home mom, who raised their children, while her husband was building a place in the business world. Their first venture into politics was in l959; it was the first of many elections they would participate in. His next successful election was to serve in the U. S. House of Representative (1967-1971). The next step in his career was being appointed United States Ambassador to the United Nations (1971-1973), followed by being appointed to Chair the Republican National Committee (1973-1974). After that, he was appointed Chief of the Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China (1974-1975), and then appointed Director of Central Intelligence (1976-1977).

George H. W. Bush’s next elected office was to serve as the 43rd Vice President of the United States, serving under President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). Along with his title, his wife became known as Second Lady Barbara Bush.

After many years of service to his country, he was elected the 41st President of the United States (1989-1993), making his wife, the First Lady of the United States.

During all of his elections and appointments, Barbara Bush was his greatest supporter, and she would pack and move their family willingly. “In those 44 years of marriage, Mrs. Bush managed 29 moves of the family.[3579] While supporting her husband’s career, she was also raising their children, running a home, participating in community and charitable activities, and fulfilling those duties that came along with his office and/or appointments. As if any one of these jobs wouldn’t be enough, she, the amazing woman that she is, managed them all. And she excelled at them all; her children grew up to be contributors to the country and the world. Her oldest, George W. Bush, served as Governor of Texas (1995-2000), resigning from this office when he was elected to be the 43rdPresident of the United States. Mrs. Bush’s other children have enjoyed their own successes in their chosen fields.

First Ladies of The United States to Raise a Son to be President – President George W. BushCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George-W-Bush.jpeg


In Closing

We are blessed to have these two remarkable First Ladies of the United States be a part of this country’s history.