WE THE KIDS – S2 E3–SIGNERS OF DECLARATION & WTK LIBERTY PLAYERS
Mrs. Abigail Adams Biography
Abigail Adams Biography (1744-1818) Mrs. Abigail (nee Smith) Adams was the daughter of Reverend William Smith, an “Old Light” Puritan Minister in Weymouth, Massachusetts and Mrs. Elizabeth (nee Quincy) Smith. Her mother taught Abigail and her siblings: Mary Smith Cranch, William Smith, and Elizabeth “Betsy” Smith Shaw-Peabody, how to read and write. Due to her father’s extensive library collection, Abigail enjoyed studying philosophy, law, politics, and history. Mrs. Adams was the first Second Lady and second First Lady of the United States with her husband, President John Adams. With great encouragement from Abigail, President Adams involved in politics as the Ambassador to England, Holland and France, represented farmers in court, and collaborated on several drafts of the Declaration of Independence with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. During the crafting of the Declaration of Independence, she encouraged her husband to “remember the ladies”. To Abigail’s political opponents, she was known as Mrs. President and was her husband’s closest advisor throughout their marriage. She influenced her husband to advocate on behalf of freedom, married women’s property rights, anti-slavery, liberty, and education. She is very opinionated, passionate and enjoyed holding weekly parties while her husband held political office. The Massachusetts’s Constitution that John Adams (with Abigail’s input) had written was the foundation for the United States Constitution. Abigail looks forward to conversing with her new Dear Friends to discuss politics, the media and many of the events that occurred during her lifetime, including answering questions. Portraying Mrs. Abigail Adams is Lorraine Woodwark, Attorney (for over 20 years) and Director of Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA), a project of the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) based in Washington, DC. Yes, she works for the “good guys” who are pro-America, enforcing immigration laws, upholding the U.S. Constitution and securing our borders. Lorraine enjoys dressing up and portraying historical characters such as: Mrs. Abigail Adams, Mrs. Betsy Ross, etc. During her formative years, she learned the theatre arts from an acclaimed British actress.
As the wife of John Adams, Abigail Adams 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. A political influencer, she is remembered for the many letters of advice she exchanged with her husband during the Continental Congresses.
Inheriting New England’s strongest traditions, Abigail Smith was born in 1744 at Weymouth, Massachusetts. On her mother’s side she was descended from the Quincys, a family of great prestige in the colony; her father and other forebearers were Congregational ministers, leaders in a society that held its clergy in high esteem.
Like other women of the time, Abigail lacked formal education; but her curiosity spurred her keen intelligence, and she read avidly the books at hand. Reading created a bond between her and young John Adams, Harvard graduate launched on a career in law, and they were married in 1764. It was a marriage of the mind and of the heart, enduring for more than half a century, enriched by time.
The young couple lived on John’s small farm at Braintree or in Boston as his practice expanded. In ten years she bore three sons and two daughters; she looked after family and home when he went traveling as circuit judge. “Alas!” she wrote in December 1773, “How many snow banks divide thee and me….”
Long separations kept Abigail from her husband while he served the country they loved, as delegate to the Continental Congress, envoy abroad, elected officer under the Constitution. Her letters–pungent, witty, and vivid, spelled just as she spoke–detail her life in times of revolution. They tell the story of the woman who stayed at home to struggle with wartime shortages and inflation; to run the farm with a minimum of help; to teach four children when formal education was interrupted. Most of all, they tell of her loneliness without her “dearest Friend.” The “one single expression,” she said, “dwelt upon my mind and played about my Heart….”
In 1784, she joined him at his diplomatic post in Paris, and observed with interest the manners of the French. After 1785, she filled the difficult role of wife of the first United States Minister to Great Britain, and did so with dignity and tact. They returned happily in 1788 to Massachusetts and the handsome house they had just acquired in Braintree, later called Quincy, home for the rest of their lives.
As wife of the first Vice President, Abigail became a good friend to Mrs. Washington and a valued help in official entertaining, drawing on her experience of courts and society abroad. After 1791, however, poor health forced her to spend as much time as possible in Quincy. Illness or trouble found her resolute; as she once declared, she would “not forget the blessings which sweeten life.”
When John Adams was elected President, she continued a formal pattern of entertaining–even in the primitive conditions she found at the new capital in November 1800. The city was wilderness, the President’s House far from completion. Her private complaints to her family provide blunt accounts of both, but for her three months in Washington she duly held her dinners and receptions.
The Adamses retired to Quincy in 1801, and for 17 years enjoyed the companionship that public life had long denied them. Abigail died in 1818, and is buried beside her husband in United First Parish Church. She leaves her country a most remarkable record as patriot and First Lady, wife of one President and mother of another.