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Abigail Adams Smith: Wikis


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Abigail "Nabby" Adams Smith
Born July 14, 1765
Quincy, Massachusetts
Died August 15, 1813 (aged 48)
Quincy, Massachusetts
Spouse(s) William Stephens Smith
Children William, John, Thomas, Caroline

Abigail "Nabby" Adams Smith (July 14, 1765 – August 15, 1813) was the firstborn of Abigail and John Adams, founding father and second President of the United States. She was named for her mother.[1]


Early life

Abigail "Nabby" Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, on July 14, 1765, and was, her mother recorded, "the dear image of her still dearer Papa." She was the favorite child, showered with attention by her father and mother, for whom she was named. By the age of 10 she was a mature girl and helped her mother with farm chores while her father and brother were away on diplomatic missions.

Romance and marriage

At the age of 18, Nabby met and fell in love with Royall Tyler. Her father thought she was too young to have a suitor, but he eventually accepted it. At one point the two were even engaged to be married. But John Adams, then the U.S. foreign minister to Great Britain, eagerly called for his wife and daughter to join him in London. For a time, Nabby maintained a long distance relationship with Tyler, but eventually broke off the engagement as Tyler became interested in other women.

Shortly afterward Nabby met Colonel William Stephens Smith, who was serving as her father's secretary and was 10 years her senior. They were married at the American minister's residence in London on June 12, 1786.[2] Nabby's observations of European life and customs, and many of the distinguished statesmen of the day, were later published.[3]

Family life and issue

After their return from Europe, the Smiths bought land in what was then the countryside outside of New York City, and planned to build an estate, which they called Mount Vernon, in honor of George Washington. They never lived there, but a carriage house on the property was later converted to a hotel and is now operated as the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum.

William was involved in a series of speculative ventures that led to financial and political difficulties. Nabby's parents used their influence when possible to obtain government jobs for William, but this did not keep their daughter from poverty.[2] Although William was in debt, Nabby was devoted to him, and the couple had four children, three of whom survived childhood.

Their children were:

  • William Smith
  • John Smith
  • Thomas Smith
  • Caroline Smith


In 1810, Nabby was diagnosed with breast cancer. The gruesome details of the surgery and the remainder of Nabby's life can be found in Jim Olson's Essay on Nabby Adams. The cancer continued to spread throughout her body, and she died, aged 48, on Sunday, August 15, 1813.[4]


Nabby's death is a poignant part of the 2008 John Adams miniseries, in which she is played by Sarah Polley. The screenplay for that television drama shifted the date of her diagnosis to 1803 and altered many other details of her life.[5]


  1. ^ (2006) American Experience: John and Abigail Adams. PBS Paramount.
  2. ^ a b Nagel, Paul C. 1987. The Adams women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, their sisters and daughters. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195038746
  3. ^ Smith, Abigail Adams 1841. Journal and correspondence of Miss Adams, daughter of John Adams, second president of the United States, written in France and England, in 1785. book
  4. ^ Wead, Doug (2005). The Raising of a President: The Mothers and Fathers of Our Nation's Leaders. Atria Books. ISBN 0-74-349726-0.
  5. ^

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