Boston suburb to unveil statue of first lady Abigail Adams

"If John Adams was a Founding Father, then Abigail Adams was a founding mother."

This photo provided by the Massachusetts Historical Society shows a portrait of Abigail Adams. – Massachusetts Historical Society via AP

Abigail Adams, one of the most influential and important women in the history of the U.S., is being honored Saturday with a new statue in the community just south of Boston where she and husband President John Adams lived.

The 7-foot-tall (2.13-meter) bronze statue of the woman who was not only the wife of the nation’s second president but also the mother of the nation’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams, will be placed not far from a statue of her husband on the Hancock Adams Common in Quincy. The city of more than 100,000 residents was until 1792 part of Braintree.


“If John Adams was a Founding Father, then Abigail Adams was a founding mother,” current Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said in a recent telephone interview.

Abigail Adams, although she had no formal education, was a prolific letter writer who often advised her husband on affairs of state.

“She was speaking about issues of slavery, she was talking about issues of women’s rights long before women were even allowed to do so, and long before it was popular to do so,” Koch said.

Abigail Adams was also an astute businessperson who helped the family farm thrive during her husband’s frequent absences as he performed his duties as a politician and a diplomat. And unlike many prominent families of the era, she did it without owning slaves.

“I wish most sincerely there was not a Slave in the province,” she wrote in a September 1774 letter to her husband. “It allways appeard a most iniquitious Scheme to me — fight ourselfs for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.”

Of the first seven presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams were the only ones who did not bring enslaved people into the White House, according to the White House Historical Association.


“She did an amazing thing for John,” said University of South Carolina history professor Woody Holton, whose 2009 book “Abigail Adams” earned him a Bancroft Prize. “She made him a fortune while he was gone, she ran the family finances much better than he ever did.

“Married women in those days were not allowed to own personal property, but she did it anyways and she took some of that money that she’d made for John and set is aside, and referred to it as ‘That money which I call mine.’”

The statue, paid for with about $350,000 in city money, according to Koch, was sculpted by Sergey Eylanbekov, who also sculpted the statues of John Adams and John Hancock already on the common.

Another statue of Abigail Adams, accompanied by John Quincy Adams as a child, is located elsewhere in the city.

The keynote speakers for Saturday’s event include two experts on John and Abigail Adams, Harvard University professor Danielle Allen and Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

The city of Quincy this summer also announced plans for a center to honor the legacies of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, as well as former first ladies Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams.



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