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Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 November 1800

Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 November 1800


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    John Adams was the first executive to live in the President's House in Washington, D.C., today known as the White House. On 2 November 1800 he wrote to his wife Abigail Adams, who was then traveling to the capital from their home in Quincy, Massachusetts. He described his first night in the residence, noting, "The Building is in a State to be habitable." Of the actual appearance of the structure Adams stated: "I Shall not attempt a description of it. You will form the best Idea of it from Inspection," and added that as he was now settled in their new home, he only wished "for your Company."   John also wrote, "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof." (See the top of page 2.)

    After her arrival, Abigail Adams gave her frank opinion of their new home in a 21 November 1800 letter to her sister Mary Smith Cranch. She lamented, "not one room or chamber is finished of the whole," and the structure was only "habitable by fires in every part," which the Adamses were "obliged to keep daily or sleep in wet & damp places." The unfinished state of the residence led Abigail to comment: "I had much rather live in the house at Philadelphia."

    Further Reading

    See an online presentation of a transcription of this letter within the digital collection, Adams Electronic Archive,