Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams, 1744–1818, wife of President John Adams and mother of President John Quincy Adams, b. Weymouth, Mass., as Abigail Smith. A lively, intelligent woman, she married John Adams in 1764 and more than three decades later became the chief figure in the social life of her husband's administration and one of the most distinguished and influential first ladies in the history of the United States. Her relationship with her husband came as close to a partnership of equals as the culture of the time would allow. Her detailed letters, most written during her husband's wartime absences, are a vivid source of social history.

The correspondence with her husband was edited in a number of volumes by Charles Francis Adams and abridged by M. A. Hogan and C. J. Taylor (2007). The Adams-Jefferson Letters, edited by Lester J. Cappon (1959), includes her letters as well as John's, and letters to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch, are in New Letters of Abigail Adams, 1788–1801, edited by Stewart Mitchell (1947, repr. 1973). See biographies by J. Whitney (1947, repr. 1970), L. E. Richards (1917, repr. 1971), C. W. Akers (1980), and W. Holton (2009); E. B. Gelles, Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage (2009); G. J. Barker-Benfield, Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility (2010); J. J. Ellis, First Family (2010). See also bibliography for Adams, John.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Portia: The World of Abigail Adams
Edith B. Gelles.
Indiana University Press, 1995
Presidential Wives
Paul F. Boller Jr.
Oxford University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Abigail Adams (1744-1818)"
Legacies of the American Revolution
Larry R. Gerlach; James A. Dolph; Michael L. Nicholls.
Utah State University Press, 1978
Librarian’s tip: "The American Revolution and the Rights of Women: The Feminist Theory of Abigail Adams" begins on p. 199
Women's Rights and the Law
Laura A. Otten.
Praeger Publishers, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "Abigail and John Adams: Remember the Ladies" begins on p. 37
Women, Media, and Politics
Pippa Norris.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Abigail Adams" begins on p. 168
Notable Women in American History: A Guide to Recommended Biographies and Autobiographies
Lynda G. Adamson.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Adams, Abigail Smith (1744-1818): First Lady" begins on p. 3
Telling Women's Lives: The New Biography
Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "The Presidential Wife Saga" begins on p. 50
First Ladies
Betty Boyd Caroli.
Oxford University Press, 1995 (Expanded edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Setting Precedents: The First Presidents' Wives (1789-1829)"
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