Adams, Abigail, 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 Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.