Abigail Adams: Remember the Ladies

Abigail Adams was born on November 22, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the second child born to Elizabeth Quincy Smith and the Reverend William Smith. She had no formal schooling, but her education included reading works by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. 

She married John Adams on October 25, 1764. As wife of the first Vice President, Abigail became a good friend to Martha Washington.

She was the first woman to serve as Second Lady of United States and the second woman to serve as First Lady. She was also the mother of the sixth President, John Quincy Adams.

Abigail Adams was an early advocate for women’s rights, a vital confidant and advisor to her husband John Adams, the nation’s second president. She opposed slavery and supported women’s education.

In 1776, as John Adams participated in the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Abigail pleaded in her most famous letter that the Founding Fathers “remember the ladies.” She added, “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.”

She advocated greater political rights for women, especially regarding divorce and property ownership. She asked John Adams and the other Founding Fathers to do just that when laying the framework for the new nation in her 1776 letter.

Nearly 74-years-old, Abigail contracted typhoid fever. She died on October 28, 1818, three days after her 54th wedding anniversary. In her will, she left the majority of her possessions to her female kin.

She is remembered on a ten-dollar gold coin in the First Spouse coin series by the United States Mint and receives special mention in the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.

Despite her abolitionist views, after attending a 1785 production of Othello in London, Adams wrote of her "disgust and horror" at seeing the play's titular protagonist, a black man, touching a white woman.


Like this post? Stop by and read Martha Washington: Wife of American Founding Father George Washington." Martha Washington was the first First Lady of the United States. As first lady, she initiated a weekly reception on Friday evenings hosting members of Congress, visiting dignitaries, and men and women from the local community. She journeyed to Cambridge, Valley Forge, Philadelphia, and Morristown to support George Washington and the soldiers in their disease-ridden winter encampments.

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