Abigail Adams

Sarah Olson

Biological Sketch

  • Born: November 22, 1744 in Weymouth, Virginia
  • Died: October 28, 1818 in Quincy, Massachusetts
  • Upbringing: Abigail did not receive a formal education because she was a sickly child, but her mother often taught Abigail and her sisters the basics, based upon reading and the Bible. Her father was a Congregationalist minister, and therefore the qualities of morality and reason were often stressed in her childhood.
  • Influneces: Congregationalism pushed her to be a voracious reader, as well as a natural leader.
  • Motivation: Abigail was motivated by her family, John Adams and his presidency, and the obvious needs of the slavery and women's rights movements.

"If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women."

The Late 1800s: Compare and Contrast

  • In the late 1800s, the women's suffrage movement begins to take off even more. The women started to organize for more rights. In Abigail Adams' time period, the only thing happening was the women's rights movement moving backwards, with many states prohibiting women to vote.
  • Abigail Adams would have had more success in the late 1800s than she did in her own time period. For one, the women's rights movement would have had more improvement, and her voice would not go to waste. People also would have listened to her more. Her ideas would have been more widely used as well as more appreciated.
  • If I had the same skills as Abigail, I would probably write a book about my cause, such as Abolition, Women's Rights, or the equality in education movement. I hope that I would be able to make the world see women and different races as equals.

Parallels and Conclusions

  • When Abigail was a child, she was a voracious reader, mostly reading the Bible, because that's how she was raised. In her adult years, Abigail turned to reading political and social works, because of where she stood in life.
  • As a child, Abigail did not have a formal education, mostly because she was a sickly child. This leads historians to believe that the reason she pushed so hard on equal education rights was because she didn't receive one and she believed that every child should.
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Activist Qualities

  • Her cause: To give a firsthand account of the Revolutionary War from the home front, as well as to better the treatment of women and slaves. She wanted equal education rights to boys and girls of any age.
  • Motivation: Abigail was a big influence to her husband John Adams while he was in office, and often helped with his presidential aspirations. In addition, she didn't have a formal education herself and believed that children should be able to have one.
  • Accomplishments: Abigail was sometimes called "Mrs. President" by those who didn't particularly like that she was John Adams biggest influence, but in spite of this, she was one of the most learned First Lady's. Abigail also has a mention in the Boston Women's Heritage Trial, and is commemorated in the "John and Abigail Adams Scholarship", because education rights were something that she fought for.
  • Methods: Her letters were the main reason why her ideas were spread. She gave one widely known speech during her appointment to the Massachusetts Colony General Court, where her ideas were praised.
  • Sacrifices: Abigail left her family and her religious beliefs when she married John. She was also often separated from him while he was on his presidential trips.
  • Causes she adopted during the 1850s: Besides the obvious Women's Rights movement, Abigail also would have advocated for abolition if she had been alive in this time period.


"First Lady Biography: Abigail Adams." Abigail Adams Biography. First Lady's of America, 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.

"Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818) (1744-1818)." Abigail Smith Adams, First Second Lady of the United States and Second First Lady of the United States. American History Central, 2015. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Miller, Elizabeth B. "Abigail Adams." George Washington's Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Adams, John, Margaret A. Hogan, and C. James Taylor. My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 2007. Print.