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Abigail was born on November 22, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, to Elizabeth Quincy Smith and the Reverend William Smith. Her father was the minister of the First Congregational Church of Weymouth. Elizabeth Quincy Smith came from a family of Puritan ministers, and her father, John Quincy, was a substantial landowner and politician. Abigail was one of four children; she had two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, and a brother, William. Abigail lacked a formal education, but an innate curiosity stimulated her keen intelligence. She avidly read books at home, mainly literature, including Shakespeare, Pope, and Cowper. She also learned some French and the important practical skills of basic mathematics and keeping accounts. Thus her education was geared toward her role in life, the only role open to women at the time: that of wife, mother, and household manager. Education, however, would remain a lifelong passion, one she continued to pursue after marrying. In her husband’s well-stocked library, she read history and political theory in addition to many scientific and medical works. One of her pivotal concerns was the improvement of female education. She wrote, Female education in the best of families went no further than writing and arithmetic; in some few instances, music and dancing. A love of literature created a bond between Abigail and John Adams, a Harvard law graduate with a promising future. They were married in 1764, when she was only 19; he was ten years her senior. Upon her marriage, Abigail moved from Weymouth to Braintree (now Quincy), where she not only managed the Adams’ family farm and its workers but also conducted extensive financial enterprises unusual for women at the time. She purchased and speculated in land, and she also sold goods that John brought back from England. Within ten years, she bore three sons and two daughters. She looked after family and home when her husband went traveling as circuit judge, delegate to the Continental Congress, envoy abroad, and elected officer under the Constitution. Abigail Adams courageously expressed her opinions in private and in public. She wrote hundreds of letters that recorded the history of colonial America and the many perils it faced on the road to independence. Her humorous and lively correspondence details her life at the time of the Revolution. They tell the story of a woman who stayed at home to struggle with wartime shortages and inflation, to run the farm with a minimum of help, and to teach her children when their schooling was interrupted. Historians have long disputed the nature of her feminism or lack of it, however, it is clear that many of her ideas were ahead of their time. These views are revealed in the letters she wrote to her husband while he was attending the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia: I long to hear that you have declared an independency and by the way the new Code of Laws which I supposed it will be necessary for you to make. I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. The fact that John did not take his wife’s views seriously is demonstrated by his reply: As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems. After the American Revolution, Abigail and John lived in Paris, London, and The Hague, where he represented the new republic in a number of diplomatic positions. During this period and while he was president, Abigail continued to write numerous letters to friends and family. Her collected letters provide an excellent portrayal of life in late-eighteenth-century America. Abigail Adams died from typhoid fever in 1818 at the age of 74. Leigh Whaley See also: Adams, John; Massachusetts; Revolutionary War; Document: Letters between Abigail Adams and John Adams (1776). Bibliography Akers, Charles W. Abigail Adams: An American Woman. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980. Ellis, Joseph J. First Family: Abigail and John Adams. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. Gelles, Edith Belle. First Thoughts: Life and Letters of Abigail Adams. New York: Twayne, 1998. Gelles, Edith Belle. John and Abigail: Portrait of a Marriage. New York: William Morrow, 2009. Gelles, Edith Belle. Portia: The World of Abigail Adams. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. Holton, Woody. Abigail Adams. New York: Free Press, 2009. Keller, Rosemary Skinner. Patriotism and the Female Sex: Abigail Adams and the American Revolution. Brooklyn, NY: Carlson, 1994. Sterling tumbles after poll shows 51pc support Scottish exit … PHOTOS: 6 recent child porn arrests in Pa., NJ Drainage Excavation Fischer Brothers Excavators

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