First Lady Abigail Adams Was a True Helpmate to America’s First Vice President and Second President

Abigail Adams has been praised for her integrity and insight by historians and at least one president, Harry Truman. As the second of the first ladies, Abigail experienced the struggle for the nation and the founding of America. In fact, it was probably the Revolutionary War that shaped who she became as First Lady.

Described as the true companion of America’s first vice president and second president, Abigail was a proud native of Massachusetts. Born in 1744, she married John Adams, raised children, and died in the same colonized state. He even named one of his children after the coastal Massachusetts town that would be his final resting place: Quincy. Abigail and John had six children – three daughters and three sons – and four of them lived to adulthood and John Quincy Adams became the sixth President of the United States.

Although a devoted mother, Abigail was also a curious and often voracious reader. It was her sharp mind that, even at the age of 15, caught the attention of 24-year-old John, a business and lawyer in Abigail’s native community of Weymouth.

Photo by Epoch Times
Portrait of Abigail Adams, 56, by artist Gilbert Stuart, circa 1800-1815. It was Stewart’s only completed portrait of Mrs. Adams during her tenure as First Lady. (Public domain)

A witness to the beginning of the war

During their courtship and subsequent 54-year marriage, at least 1,100 letters were exchanged between them. Abigail’s personality, interests, and character are clearly revealed in well-preserved primary sources. One such letter illustrates Abigail’s strength. It was written after the Battle of Bunker Hill, during which she was caring for not only her own four young children, but also the four children of Dr. Joseph Warren, then president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. His wife died a few years ago. In the relative safety of their home, instead of being 10 miles away from the battle, he fled to Penn Hill Granite to watch the smoke billow from the burning Charlestown.

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Later, when she heard of Warren’s death in battle, she wrote to her husband: “My bursting heart must find a place for my pen. I have lately heard that our dear friend, Dr. Warren, fought so gloriously for his Country, that it was better to die honorably in the field than to be hanged on the Rock. Our loss is great.” He ends the letter by saying, “I can’t concentrate on writing any more at the moment.”

The spot where Abigail bravely observed the outbreak of war is now known as Abigail Adams Cairn, a Scottish term for a cairn memorial marker.

Excellent advisor

During the eight-year war for independence, Abigail and John strengthened their role as confidants while they were often separated as delegates to the First and Second Continental Congresses and as diplomats in France and Holland. advisor. The letters between them gave insight into how he was reading documents, news and reports. For example, a letter dated June 25, 1795 states: “It is reported here that 19 senators are in favor of ratifying all but Article 12 of the Treaty. Greenleafs paper contains some feeble mindless superficial thinking and abuse every day.

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In one of his most quoted letters, dated March 31, 1776, he asks John pointed questions about the political and military aspects of the war. Then, he asks for a forward-looking concept in his role as leader of the new nation: “In the new code of laws, I think you want to remember the ladies. Be more generous to them than your ancestors.” One of the women’s appeals to their husbands was to make formal education free and accessible, partly because educated mothers could prepare their sons to be thoughtful citizens and leaders in the new republic.

Photo by Epoch Times
Presidential portrait of John Adams by Gilbert Stewart. The artist started both portraits in 1800 and took 15 years to complete them. John Quincy Adams commented on the family’s procrastination by Stewart, stating, “Mr. Stewart believes that it is the virtue of genius to hate the performance of one’s duties.’ (Public Domain)

The Adams family didn’t just survive the Revolutionary War, it thrived. Abigail joined John in Europe for four years after American independence from Britain was secure. He entertained and socialized with high-ranking officials and wealthy men during John’s tenure as a diplomat, and he did so during two terms as vice president (1789–1797) and one term as president (1797–1801). However, she used her wit and writing skills to defend her husband and his policies.

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As Abigail was recognized as John’s wife, mother of his children, and political host, the essayist Judith Sargent Murray wrote to her brother of Gloucester and Boston in 1798: “Every transaction of his administration is now laid before him—she is not only his intimate friend, but his assistant.” and advisor in various emergency situations… [so that the politicians] If the President declares an early recall, they should prefer Mrs. Adams to the presidency than any other character America now has.”

This article was originally published in American Essence.

Deena C. Booknight

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Dina S. is a writer/journalist who has been working for more than 30 years. Bucknight works from his mountain cottage in Western North Carolina and has published articles on food culture, travel, people and more for local, regional, national and international publications. He has written three novels, including the only historical fiction about the East Coast’s worst earthquake. Her website is


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