The New International Encyclopædia/Adams, Abigail Smith

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The New International Encyclopædia, Volume 1
Adams, Abigail Smith

ADAMS, Abigail Smith (1744-1818). The wife of John Adams, second President of the United States, and daughter of Rev. William Smith, minister of the Congregational church at Weymouth, Mass. She was born at Weymouth, Mass., and died at Quincy, Mass. Through her mother, Elizabeth Quincy, she was descended from the Puritan preacher, Thomas Shepard of Cambridge, and though of defective education, delicate health, and nervous temperament, she was one of the most influential women of her day, and one of its most vigorous and elegant stylists, owing little to teaching but much to influence and environment. During and after the Revolutionary War, she was at times separated from her husband, who was a delegate to Congress and who afterward engaged in diplomatic business in Europe. Joining him in France in 1784, she accompanied him to London, where she had unpleasant social experiences. From 1789 to 1801 she lived at Washington, then till her death at Braintree, in what is now Quincy. The Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife, published with a memoir by C. F. Adams (1876), show her to have been a woman of keenness, sagacity, and geniality, and throw very valuable light on the history and social life of her time.