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Abigail Adams was the wife of President John Adams and the mother of John Quincy Adams, who became the sixth president of the United States.
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While in the capitold, she helped First Lady Martha Washington with entertaining dignitaries and other officials.
Adams remained a supportive spouse and confidante after her husband became the president in 1797. Some critics objected to Abigail’s influence over her husband, calling her “Mrs. President.” The nation’s second first lady kept a busy schedule when she was in Philadelphia, the country’s capitol at the time. Adams rose early to tend to family and household matters and spent much of the remainder of the day receiving visitors and hosting events. She still spent a lot of time back in Massachusetts because of her health.
Abigail and John Adams did not always see eye to eye on matters of policy. During her husband’s presidency, the United States had some problems with France. Once a great ally, France was in the midst of revolution when Adams became president. The country was being run by a five-man executive group known as the Directory along with a legislative body. The Directory had stopped trade with the United States and refused to meet with any U.S. envoys. In 1798, Adams was told that the French officials would hold talks for substantial bribes. This attempt at extortion did not sit well with John Adams and he told Congress about the incident. The documents related to the incident were published, and the whole situation became known as the X, Y, Z Affair as Adams had only used letters to identify the French officials instead of names. Abigail thought war should be declared while John sought out a peaceful, less costly solution.
The couple did, however, agree on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The three alien acts were aimed at immigrants and increased the waiting period for naturalization, allowed the government to detain foreign subjects, and permitted the deportation of any alien deemed dangerous. The Sedition Act federalized the ban against malicious antigovernment writings and other works inciting opposition to Congress or the president. An ardent champion of her husband, Abigail thought those who published lies about John should be punished. Under the act, penalties included fines and jail time. John Adams signed these acts into law and has since been rebuked by historians for this anti-immigrant, anti-free speech legislation.
Around the time her husband was defeated by Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 election, the Adams learned of the death of their second son Charles, which was related to his alcoholism. With great sadness, the Adams soon moved to the country’s new capitol, Washington, D.C., where they became the first residents of the White House. Abigail Adams wrote many letters to family around this time, shedding light on the early days of the new capital and complaining about the unfinished state of their new home. A few months later, after John Adams left office in 1801, they returned to their family farm.
With John now retired, the couple was able to spend more time together.
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During their courtship and marriage, John Adams and Abigail Smith Adams exchanged over 1,100 letters, many filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics considered an invaluable account of the Revolutionary War. Abigail, a fierce advocate of rights for women and African-Americans, was an important partner throughout John's political career. The couple lived on a farm in Quincy, Massachusetts, where they raised five children. Abigail died in 1818; John died in 1826, 16 months after their son, John Quincy Adams, was sworn in as the sixth President of the United States.
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