Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?478479">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Abigail Adams (1) [1744–1818]

This page covers the author of The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams.

For other authors named Abigail Adams, see the disambiguation page.

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Abigail Adams, née Smith, was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts to the family of a Congregationalist minister and his wife. Her maternal grandfather John Quincy was Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly. She received no formal education, but was taught to read and write at home, and given access to the extensive libraries of her father and grandfather, and took a special interest in philosophy, theology, Shakespeare, the classics, ancient history, government, and law. She later became an advocate for the education of girls in the public schools. In 1764, at age 19, she married John Adams, then a lawyer, the future President of the United States, with whom she had five children. They lived in Boston for years before buying a large farm called Peacefield, which Abigail managed while her husband was away serving as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. Their frequent separations during the years before, during, and after the American War of Independence prompted a lifelong intimate correspondence between them. Their letters now provide a valuable resource of information on women's lives and concerns of the 18th century as well as the public issues confronted by the new nation's leaders. Her letters repeatedly state her belief that the creation of a new form of government was an opportunity to give women the same legal status as men. They are some of the earliest American writings calling for women's equal rights.

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