John and Abigail Adams: An American Love Story

Overview

The partnership between John Adams, the second president of the United States, and his wife, Abigail, well known for speaking out on women's rights, is one of the most famous in American history.

John's lifelong involvement in American public life included service in the Continental Congress, an ambassadorship to England, and election as the second president of the United States. Abigail fiercely supported the American Revolution and the young country it created -- as well as ...

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Overview

The partnership between John Adams, the second president of the United States, and his wife, Abigail, well known for speaking out on women's rights, is one of the most famous in American history.

John's lifelong involvement in American public life included service in the Continental Congress, an ambassadorship to England, and election as the second president of the United States. Abigail fiercely supported the American Revolution and the young country it created -- as well as her husband's ambitious career. But while they were as drawn to each other as "steel and the magnet," they also went through the trials of extended separation. During these times, they relied on letters to keep their bond alive. With depth and insight, Judith St. George explores two of the founders of our nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
St. George's (So You Want to Be President?) tandem biography portrays the compelling and equal partnership and marriage that helped shape the United States from a British colony to a fledgling democracy. Though on their first acquaintance in 1759 neither 23-year-old John Adams nor 14-year-old Abigail Smith found much to admire, their friendship blossomed into a steadfast, passionate and intellectually stimulating union that lasted 54 years. Their marriage survived political upheavals, personal tragedies and separations of as much as nearly five years. During these frequent absences, the Adams wrote letters, and the biography proves strongest when it relies on their epistolary dialogue to capture the relationship (e.g., Abigail's famous entreaty to her husband to "Remember the Ladies," 1776, asking for a separate legal existence for women and a share in a husband's profits). The narrative chattily navigates the couple's experiences throughout John Adams's career, which includes a pivotal role in the Continental Congress and election as the nation's first vice president and second, if not entirely successful, president, but St. George provides only a cursory look at policies and politics. First and foremost, this book focuses on personalities, including Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, assisted by archival portraits and prints. Readers will enjoy this look at the romance of these two patriots who worked so tirelessly for their country. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Although they were not drawn to one another at their first meeting when John was 23 and Abigail was 14, they eventually discovered that "their thinking and interests, as well as their intellectual and political opinions, were very much alike." They married on October 25, 1764 and were together for more than fifty years. With John's political ambitions he was often away from home, sometimes for years at a time. Because of this, they wrote many letters to each other that discussed not only family matters but also political events. Extensively quoting from these letters, St. George presents a personal perspective about the birth of the United States and the growing pains of this new nation. She captures the personalities of both John and Abigail, providing a particularly good insight into Abigail. This deserves a prominent place among books about colonial and early American history and books about presidents and their wives. Black-and-white portraits (one of which is dated incorrectly), paintings and cartoons from the period are scattered throughout the book. Family chronology, bibliography and related web sites are included. 2001, Holiday House, $22.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
VOYA
In her latest work, St. George examines the love story of John and Abigail Adams. She begins with their first meeting when Abigail was just fourteen and continues throughout their marriage, using John's aspiring political life as a backdrop. Her extensive research, exemplified by direct quotes from their many letters, enables St. George to capture the trials and tribulations of John and Abigail's fifty-four year marriage. Despite many separations, including the five years they were apart while John and his sons traveled in Europe, during which time he was appointed first American Ambassador to the Netherlands, John and Abigail remained devoted to each other. When Abigail died of typhoid fever in 1818, John wrote to his friend Thomas Jefferson that he was losing "the dear Partner of my Life for fifty-four Years as a Wife and for many years more as a Lover." St. George provides many black-and-white illustrations, an Adams family chronology, a bibliography, and a list of related Web sites. There are many biographies about John and Abigail Adams available as well as several collections of their letters. The author's decision to center the book on their ongoing love affair and not John's political career and her inclusion of many illustrations and quixotic quotes from their letters will help this book appeal to young adults of all ages, especially those who enjoy a little romance with their history. Index. Illus. Photos. Biblio. Chronology. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Holiday House, 195p,$22.95. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Elizabeth Prior SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-John and Abigail Adams's marriage lasted 54 years, surviving wars, tragedies, politics, and frequent separations. During these absences, the Adamses wrote the letters upon which this biography is based. St. George utilizes their actual dialogue (updated to adhere to current grammar and spelling standards) to capture the personalities, hopes, and fears of the Adamses and their contemporaries (Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Mercy Warren, etc.) Through these excerpts, readers gain an insight into the feelings the couple had about the events occurring around them, as well as a recorded history of their daily life. Numerous archival portraits and prints are included. This title succeeds as a joint biography. However, the author focuses on the couple's romance, with little consideration given to the political dealings of the time. While well written, the book may not generate much interest in the intended audience. Note: at least one error (an incorrect date attributed to a portrait) remains in the final edition. An additional purchase.-Shauna Yusko, King County Library System, Bellevue, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
As the subtitle indicates, this dual biography focuses on the remarkable marriage of one of the nation's founders and his publicly silent but privately very vocal wife. Drawing heavily on primary source material, largely the letters of her two protagonists, both to each other and to third parties, St. George (So You Want to Be President?, 2000, etc.) crafts an engaging account of John Adams's political and diplomatic career, while carefully highlighting Abigail's role in it. John himself emerges as fiercely brilliant, vain, and stubborn; Abigail is witty, opinionated, and in equal parts utterly devoted to her husband and yet an independent thinker. As John works on the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, she writes, "I cannot say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for while you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives." The lead-up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence occupies slightly less than half the book; the rest details Adams's difficult diplomatic career (during which he and Abigail were separated for years at a time), his even more difficult presidency, and finally a happy, domestic retirement. While St. George clearly holds more affection for Abigail than for John, she nevertheless works to present his later career sympathetically, sketching out the political landscape that influenced some of his more ill-considered decisions. Despite a certain breathless quality at times and the liberal use of exclamation points, this is a fine offering that presents an image of a marital partnership that was extraordinary for its time. One real drawback as a piece of nonfiction for children is that thebibliography, while extensive, includes no titles for young readers. (chronology, bibliography, Web sites, acknowledgments for archival illustrations, index) (Biography. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823415717
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.98 (w) x 7.44 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Chapter 1 Magnet and Steel 1
Chapter 2 Mamma and Pappa 10
Chapter 3 Fellow Patriots 18
Chapter 4 The Letter Writers 28
Chapter 5 Mr. and Mrs. Delegate 36
Chapter 6 Public Duty, Private Tears 42
Chapter 7 A Cruel Separation 50
Chapter 8 Indecision 56
Chapter 9 Very, Very Happy 62
Chapter 10 Mr. and Mrs. Ambassador 68
Chapter 11 A Flurry of Politics 77
Chapter 12 Turnabout 85
Chapter 13 Mr. and Mrs. President 91
Chapter 14 The Old Man and the Old Woman 102
Chapter 15 Washington City 110
Chapter 16 Farmers for Life 117
Chapter 17 Grandmamma and Grandpappa 128
Epilogue 135
Adams Family Chronology 137
Bibliography 139
Illustration Credits 141
Index 143
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  • Posted September 20, 2010

    very sympathetic account of the Adamses

    Appropriate fiction can be good. For educational purposes, good historical fiction is even better. However, actual history is the best. One of the most interesting ways to learn history is through reading biographies. This book is not a biography per se but a look at the lives of John and Abigail Adams based upon the letters that they wrote to each other. The author says in her introduction, "In the past, whenever I thought about John Adams, if I thought about him at all, I pictured a short, stout, prickly, one-term president sandwiched between two giants, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In thinking about Abigail Adams, I pictured a strong-willed, opinionated First Lady known to some as Mrs. President. And then I bought a secondhand book of selected letters that John and Abigail had written to each other. What an eye-opener! John and Abigail Adams were remarkable people in a remarkable marriage, who lived through America's most remarkable time....In reading their letters, I also discovered that my opinions about John and Abigail were both right and wrong. Yes, John Adams was short, stout and prickly. He was also vain, moody, ambitious and a hypochondriac. On the other hand, he was Mr. Integrity, a brilliant intellectual, a first-rate orator and a born leader, who dedicated his life to his country. As for Abigail, she was certainly opinionated and strong willed, but she, too, left behind a lasting legacy. One of the nation's best-informed women on public affairs, she helped to shape the political views of her husband and her son John Quincy, our sixth president. Outspoken, spirited and well read, she championed education for women and advocated that wives have the same legal rights as their husbands. But as an eighteenth-century woman, she believed that a wife's first priority was her home and family."
    The book does not gloss over the faults and weaknesses of these two people, nor does it magnify them, but the author simply presents John and Abigail as human beings that we can identify with rather than "romanticize." Some people might see a little bit of feminism in the book. Abigail was certainly not a feminist in the commonly accepted modern usage of that term, although she was certainly a strong woman, and she is not presented as such in the book, but a few of the descriptions of her views seem as if they are colored through modern feminist glasses. I do like the emphasis give to the Adamses' religious beliefs. They were members of the Unitarian Church, but while Unitarianism was considered "liberal" even in the eighteenth century, Unitarians of former years were much more conservative and Bible-oriented than the majority of them today. The author notes, "During their marriage Abigail and John had lived through great triumphs and painful defeats. But nothing had touched their hearts as did the loss of their Nabby. Only their religion and lifelong faith in God sustained them...that and the comfort and solace each was able to give the other." And after Abigail's death, John wrote, "We shall meet again and know each other in a future State." This is a very sympathetic account that is well worth reading.

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