Abigail Adams: On Virtue, Duty and Manners

Presidential History Blog

Abigail Smith Adams was a Puritan born and raised.

Abigail Adams: Intellectual Puritan

Abigail Smith (1744-1818) was born to William Smith and Elizabeth Quincy of Weymouth, MA, a family peppered with Congregational clergy. Her father was a minister of solid repute, and also an educator with a fine library.

Church services and long sermons exhorting congregants to exemplary behavior, and pious thought and deeds through reason and morality, was part of her unquestioned upbringing. While Abigail was taught the domestic arts of cooking, sewing and housekeeping, it was not her strongest suit. She was intellectually inclined and a conceptual thinker. She relished difficult, thoughtful books on government and philosophy, on history and political theory. Perhaps most important, she treasured the precepts of moral behavior and a sense of upright duty.

John and Abigail Adams, Puritan parents.

At nineteen, she married John Adams, and for the next fifty-four years enjoyed a…

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