The Children of John Adams

President John Adams’ wife Abigail served as an unofficial adviser throughout his career. Their correspondence shows that he sought her advice on a variety of issues, including his presidential ambitions. The elder Adams son, John Quincy, would become president seven years after his mother’s death in 1825, and she remained a supportive spouse and confidante during this time.

A total of six children were born to Abigail Adams, four of whom would live to adulthood: three girls and three boys. John Quincy, one of the four, would go on to become the nation’s 16th president. The other three members of what has come to be known as remarkable family-led everyday lives.

John Quincy Adams

Portrait of John Adams son John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adam was the sixth president of the United States and John Adams’ eldest son. Adams was one of America’s most excellent diplomats during his pre-presidential years, formulating what became the Monroe Doctrine; during his post-presidential years, he waged a consistent and often dramatic campaign against the expansion of slavery. Though brimming with promise, his presidential years were trying. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1848.

Charles Adams

Portrait of John Adams son Charles Adams

The young Adams accompanied his father and older brother, John Quincy, to Paris and Amsterdam in 1779. He assisted his father in securing financing and treaties that allowed the United States to continue its war for independence from the British.

On January 29, 1781, he matriculated in Leiden. After a two-year absence, Charles returned to his hometown. When he was 15, he enrolled at Harvard, where he became entangled in an incident involving a group of youngsters found running naked around Harvard Yard.

According to the school’s records, drinking may have played a role. His parents grew increasingly worried as time went on about their son’s penchant for binge drinking.

Charles returned to America alone in December 1781. After he went to Harvard College in 1789, he relocated to New York City, expected to work in Alexander Hamilton’s legal office. Hamilton was assigned Secretary of the Treasury, and Adams continued his studies at the law firm of John Laurance. Adams was admitted to the bar in 1792.

Adams married Sarah “Sally” Smith, the sister of his brother-in-law, William Stephens Smith, on August 29, 1795. Susanna Boylston and Abigail Louisa Smith were their daughters. Abigail married Alexander Bryan Johnson, a banker, and philosopher, and their son, Alexander Smith Johnson, was a judge. Abigail Louisa died of uterine cancer at the age of 37.

Adams was an alcoholic who had extramarital affairs and made rash financial decisions. His father disowned him, and he occasionally lived apart from his family.

Thomas Boylston Adams

Portrait of John Adams son Thomas Boylston Adams

Thomas Boylston Adams, the youngest son of Abigail and John Adams, reluctantly followed in his parents’ footsteps by attending Harvard Law School. His brother John Quincy had been appointed minister to the Netherlands by President George Washington. So, in 1793, he was admitted to the Philadelphia bar but left to work as his brother’s secretary in Europe. Thomas returned to Philadelphia and attempted to practice law but was unsuccessful.

To his parents’ dismay, he returned to Quincy (who now knew Braintree) in 1803. The family name might help, but it did not for John and Abigail. Thomas was a grumpy, sad guy. Mary Ann Harrod on May 16, 1805. Thomas Boylston Jr. (who died at a young age), Isaac Hull (who died at a young age), John Quincy, and Joseph Harrod. Thomas was elected to the Massachusetts legislature the same year but resigned a year later for unknown reasons. Alcoholism had claimed his brother Charles’ life and was now threatening his own. In 1811, he served as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Southern Circuit Court of Common Pleas. Then in 1818, Thomas moved his family back to Quincy to be near his father. Thomas was the farm’s caretaker after leaving politics and law behind. With his drinking problem, he became “a brute in manners and a bully in his family,” according to his nephew Charles Francis. Thomas passed away in 1832.Tags: John Adams, history, biography, life, and children

Abigail Amelia Adams

Portrait of John Adams daughter Abigail Amelia Adams

Nabby Adams Smith was John and Abigail Adams’s eldest child and only surviving daughter and John Quincy Adams’s sister. On June 12, 1786, time her parents were in London, she married William Stephens Smith, but the marriage was not happy. Nabby proved herself to be a true child of her parents, strong-willed, uncomplaining, and capable of keeping herself and her children together under one roof, earning the undying respect of John and Abigail, as well as John Quincy. The latter adored her… one of the few people he loved.

Susanna Adams

Portrait of John Adams daughter Susanna Adams

President John Adams’ mother and John Quincy Adams’ paternal grandmother Susanna Boylston Adams Hall were prominent early American socialites.

Susanna was born on March 5, 1708, in Brookline, Massachusetts Bay. Peter (1673–1743) and Anne (née White) Boylston (1685–1772) were her parents. She had two sets of grandparents: Dr. Thomas Boylston and Mary (née Gardner) Boylston, and Benjamin and Susanna (née Cogswell) White.

Her relatives included cousin Ward Nicholas Boylston, a benefactor of Harvard College, and uncle Zabdiel Boylston, a celebrated physician known for performing the first surgical operation by an American physician and inoculating hundreds of people in Boston during a severe smallpox epidemic.

Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth Quincy Smith Adams was the stillborn daughter of John and Abigail Adams. Elizabeth was born in 1777 and died in 1777. She was given the name after her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Quincy Smith Adams. She was the youngest child of John Adams; her brother John Quincy became the 6th president; she had two sisters, Abigail “Nabby” and Susanna, both of whom died when they were young; and two brothers, Charles and Thomas, both of whom died when they were young.