Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Lady Profile #3--Louisa Adams!

Louisa learned to keep her opinions to herself.  John Quincy severely warned her never to criticize him, especially about his clothes.  Years later, she wrote that "hanging and marriage were strongly assimilated.--Ann Heinrichs
--I didn't know much about Louisa Adams at all before reading Ann Heinrich's book on her.  What I find interesting is what I learn about the presidents through reading books on the first ladies.  When I read a book about LadyBird Johnson, I was appalled at what I learned about Lyndon Johnson in the process.

--The same could be said about Louisa Adams and John Quincy Adams.  I was discouraged that John Quincy didn't treat his wife the way that his father had treated Abigail.  While his behavior was typical of that time, he had been shown a different way by how he was raised.

--It will be interesting to read Jane Hampton Cook's book, American Phoenix, which is a book about John Quincy and Louisa.

--She was born on February 12, 1775 in London, England even though her father was from the colony of Maryland.
--She is the only first lady to be born outside of the United States.
--She played the piano and the harp and enjoyed reading and writing poetry.
--John Quincy asked Louisa to marry him 3 months after coming to her 21st birthday ball.
--John Quincy's mother Abigail was against the marriage because Louisa had been born and raised in Europe.
--She had 5 miscarriages before she gave birth to her first child in 1801, it was a boy named George Washington Adams.
--She had more miscarriages and 3 more children, 2 boys and 1 girl who died at 13 months old.

--In 1805, after John Quincy had been in Washington in the U.S. Senate for 2 years, Louisa was forced by John Quincy and Abigail to leave her first 2 sons with Abigail.  She was not consulted about this and was heartbroken.
--In 1807, she gave birth to her 3rd son and he was able to stay with her.
--In 1809, Louisa was forced again to leave her 1st 2 sons behind when her and John Quincy went to Russia where John Quincy was to be the U.S. Minister.
--In 1811, she had her precious daughter and they named her Louisa.  Unfortunately, 13 months later she died.
--Louisa went into a depression.
--In 1815, John Quincy was appointed U.S. Minister to Great Britain.  They were finally able to take their 2 oldest boys with them.
--In 1817, they returned to America since President Monroe had asked John Quincy to be Secretary of State.

--In 1825, John Quincy became the 6th president of the United States.
--On July 4, 1826 (the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence), both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Sr. died.  Adams had treated his daughter-in-law well and she wrote in her diary that he never had an unkind word for her.
--In 1829, John Quincy and Louisa got more sad news.  Their oldest son (who had suffered greatly from depression), died at sea.  No one knows if it was an accident or if he committed suicide.

Louisa the Abolitionist & Woman's Rights Advocate!
To Louisa, it was a moral question.  Clearly, she believed, slavery was against the laws of God.  After all, God had led his people out of slavery in Egypt.  To sort out her thoughts, she wrote pages and pages of anti-slavery arguments in her journal.

Louisa was inspired by abolitionist Sarah Grimke.  The two women began a long letter-writing relationship.  

Sarah and Louise were also inflamed about women's rights.  Both felt that women should be able to vote.  For Louisa, slavery and women's rights were similar.  She believed that God had created all people as equals--men and women, black and white.  Sarah encouraged Louisa's thinking.  Without equal rights, she said, women were only "white slaves of the North."--Ann Heinrichs
--Later in life, Louisa sought a purpose and she found it in advocating for African Americans and women.  She helped inspire John Quincy to advocate for the abolition cause when he went to serve in Congress in 1830.

--She started writing her autobiography in 1840.

--She died on May 15, 1852 at age 77.  Below are the words inscribed outside her tomb:
Louisa Catherine Adams
Frail of Body, Simple in Tastes, and Retiring in Nature
She Filled the Onerous Positions To Which it Pleased God
To Assign Her with Grace, Dignity, and Fortitude
My Louisa Adams books:
-Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams--Ann Heinrichs
-American Phoenix--Jane Hampton Cook
-America's First Ladies--Diana Dixon Healy
-First Ladies--Betty Boyd Caroli
-First Ladies of the White House--Nancy J. Skarmeas

Previous Profiles:
-Eleanor Roosevelt
-Julia Grant

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