On This  Day in History -
October 25, 1764

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John and Abigail Adams are married

On this day in history, October 25, 1764, John and Abigail Adams are married. They would become one of the most recognizable couples in American history, not only for their time in the White House when John was the 2nd President of the United States, but also because of the more than 1200 letters between them that have survived.

John Adams and Abigail Smith were third cousins who knew one another from a young age. Both of them grew up in Christian households, John's father being a deacon and Abigail's a minister. John grew up on a farm and became a lawyer, while Abigail was educated at home, as was the custom for many women of the day. Abigail's education was far more extensive than most women of the day, however. She became quite versed in politics, philosophy, poetry and other subjects, due to access to the libraries of her father and grandfather.

John Adams by Gilbert Stuart
Click to enlarge
John Adams
by Gilbert Stuart
Click to enlarge
John Adams
by Gilbert Stuart

When the two married in 1764, John was 28 and Abigail was 19. They lived at the farm John's father had left him in Quincy, Massachusetts, a few miles from Boston. Their first child, Abigail, also known as Nabby, was born in 1765. The Adams' had 5 more children over the years, one of whom, John Quincy, became the 6th President of the United States.

John and Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe
Click to enlarge
John and Abigail Adams portraits
by Benjamin Blythe

As John's law practice grew, the couple moved to Boston where they became intimately involved in revolutionary politics. John became involved in local politics and was eventually elected to attend the Continental Congress where he was a strong advocate of independence from Great Britain. During John's long absences to Congress, he and Abigail kept up a vigorous letter writing habit that has provided subsequent generations a unique window into typical family life during the Revolution. Abigail was forced to raise their youngest children on her own and manage the farm as well.

John and Abigail often discussed political matters in their letters and her views were always taken to heart by Adams. Both of them were strong advocates of American independence and the abolition of slaves. She was also a strong proponent of women's rights.

In the 1780s, John spent several years as the American ambassador to the Netherlands and Great Britain. In 1784, Abigail went to join him and the two spent several years in Paris and London. Neither of them particularly liked the social life of Europe.

John Adams was elected Vice-President with George Washington and subsequently became the 2nd President of the United States. The Adams' came under great scrutiny and criticism while he was president and both had their feelings hurt from the criticisms and the lost election for a second term in the White House. After returning to Quincy from the capital, the two lived at their home called Peacefield. Abigail passed away in 1818 and John finished his memoirs. He passed away on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American Independence.

This Week in History

Published 10/25/13

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