Abigail Adams (Mrs. John Adams)
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[ This description is from the project: Revolutionary-era Art and Artifacts ]
This pastel portrait depicts Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818) and was painted by Benjamin Blyth (1746-1787?) circa 1766, shortly after she married John Adams.
Abigail Smith Adams was born 11 November 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts. She had no formal schooling, but her education included reading works by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. On 25 October 1764, she married John Adams. Her husband's protracted absences from home (first while he traveled the court circuits, then while he was at the Continental Congress and later while he was on diplomatic assignments abroad) often left Abigail with the children to raise, a farm to manage, the household and tenants to supervise, and extended family and friends to care for—all while the Revolution in Boston unfolded on her doorstep. The letters she exchanged with John and other family members reveal her cares and worries, her frank opinions and advice, and give an extraordinary view of everyday life in 18th-century New England. In 1784, Adams and her daughter Abigail joined John and son John Quincy in Europe. During the 12 years of John Adams’ vice-presidency and presidency, Abigail moved between their home in Quincy and the national capitol in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., successively. Again, the burden of their household and personal affairs fell on her capable shoulders. Abigail Adams died 28 October 1818, at home in Quincy.