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Abigail Adams Biography

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Abigail Smith Adams (November 11, 1744 - October 28, 1818) was the wife of John Adams, the second President of the United States, and is seen as the second First Lady of the United States, though that term was not coined until after her death.

Born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, Abigail lacked formal education. On her mother's side she was descended from the Quincys, a family of great prestige in the Massachusetts colony; her father and other forebearers were Congregational ministers, leaders in a society that held its clergy in high esteem.

Abigail Smith married John Adams in 1764. The young couple lived on John's small farm at Braintree (later renamed Quincy) or in Boston as his practice expanded. In ten years she bore three sons and two daughters, including another President, John Quincy Adams. Abigail Adams is remembered today for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he served his country in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses and the Constitutional Convention. Passages from those letters figured prominently in the Broadway musical 1776 (and the 1972 film of it, with Virginia Vestoff as Abigail Adams).

She is perhaps best known for her request that he and the Continental Congress "remember the ladies" -- that they consider the needs and rights of women as well as of men in forming the new country.

In 1784, she joined John Adams at his diplomatic post in Paris. After 1785, she filled the role of wife of the first United States Minister to the Kingdom of Great Britain. They returned in 1788.

As wife of the first Vice President of the United States, Abigail became a good friend to Martha Washington helped in official entertaining, drawing on her experience of courts and society abroad. After 1791, poor health forced her to spend as much time as possible in Quincy.

When John Adams was elected President of the United States, she continued a formal pattern of entertaining, becoming the first hostess of the yet uncompleted White House.

The Adamses retired to Quincy in 1801. Abigail died in 1818, and is buried beside her husband in United First Parish Church (also known as the Church of the Presidents).

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