Louisa Adams


Louisa Adams




Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, born Louisa Catherine Johnson (February 12, 1775 – May 15, 1852), wife of John Quincy Adams, was First Lady of the United States from 1825 to 1829.





Born in London, she was the only First Lady born outside of the United States. She was the daughter of Joshua Johnson, an American merchant, and Catherine Nuth-Johnson, an Englishwoman. Her father was originally from Maryland and served as United States consul general in London after 1790. She had six sisters: Ann, Caroline, Harriet, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Adelaide, and a brother, Thomas. Louisa grew up in London and Nantes, France, where the family took refuge during the American Revolution. It was in Nantes that four-year-old Louisa first met her future husband, who at 12 was traveling through France with his father.




She again met Adams, this time in London, where her father had been appointed American consul. Adams at first showed interest in her older sister but soon settled on Louisa. John Quincy Adams, aged 30, married Louisa, aged 22, on July 26, 1797, at All Hallows Barking parish in London, England. Adams' father, John Adams, then President of the United States, overcame his initial objections to his son marrying a person born in another country and welcomed his daughter-in-law into the family.

Her parents left Europe in 1797 and went to the U.S. When her father was forced into bankruptcy, President John Adams appointed him U.S. Director of Stamps. Her father died in Frederick, Maryland in 1802 of severe fever and some mental problems. Her mother died in 1811 and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.

Together, John Quincy Adams and Louisa Adams had the following children:

George Washington Adams (1801–1829), lawyer

John Adams, II (1803–1834), presidential aide.

Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), diplomat, public official, and author

Louisa Catherine Adams (1811–1812)

Louisa Adams c. 1821–25, by Charles Bird King

Louisa was sickly, plagued by migraine headaches and frequent fainting spells. She had several miscarriages over the course of their marriage.

She left her two older sons in Massachusetts for education in 1809 when she took two-year-old Charles Francis Adams to Russia, where Adams served as a Minister. Despite the glamour of the tsar's court, she had to struggle with cold winters, strange customs, limited funds, and poor health; an infant daughter born in 1811 died the next year.

Louisa and John Quincy Adams Poems exhibited at the 2004 RNC Convention 


Peace negotiations called Adams to Ghent in 1814 and then to London. To join him, Louisa had to make a forty-day journey across war-ravaged Europe by coach in winter; roving bands of stragglers and highwaymen filled her with "unspeakable terrors" for her son. Happily, the next two years gave her an interlude of family life in the country of her birth.

When John Quincy Adams was appointed James Monroe's U.S. Secretary of State the family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1817 where Louisa's drawing room became a center for the diplomatic corps and other notables. Music enhanced her Tuesday evenings at home, and theater parties contributed to her reputation as an outstanding hostess.

The pleasures of moving into the White House in 1825 were dimmed by the bitter politics of the election, paired with her deep depression. Though she continued her weekly "drawing rooms", she preferred quiet evenings of reading, composing music and verse, and playing her harp. As First Lady, she became reclusive and depressed. For a time, she regretted ever having married into the Adams family, the men of which she found cold and insensitive. The necessary entertainments were always elegant, however; and her cordial hospitality made the last official reception a gracious occasion although her husband had lost his bid for re-election and partisan feeling still ran high.

In his diary for June 23, 1828, her husband records her "winding silk from several hundred silkworms that she has been rearing," evidently in the White House. Diary (New York: Longmans, Green, 1929) p. 380.

Louisa thought she was retiring to Massachusetts permanently, but in 1831 her husband began seventeen years of service in the United States House of Representatives. The untimely deaths of her two oldest sons added to her burdens.

"Our union has not been without its trials," John Quincy Adams conceded. He acknowledged many "differences of sentiment, of tastes, and of opinions in regard to domestic economy, and to the education of children between us." But, he added, "she always has been a faithful and affectionate wife, and a careful, tender, indulgent, and watchful mother to our children."

Her husband died at the United States Capitol in 1848; after which, she remained in Washington until her death of a heart attack on May 15, 1852, at the age of 77. She is entombed at his side, as well as President John Adams and first lady Abigail Adams, in the United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts (also known as the Church of the Presidents).




Autograph Poem Signed "Louisa Catherine Adams", 1 page, octavo, Washington, April 2, 1846, to Miss Cordelia Frye. In this autograph poem, first lady Louisa C. Adams writes to the daughter of Maine Senator William Pierce Frye, who was elected to fill James G. Blaine's seat. In full:

Can you the Gay Metropolis Desert? where Men and Monkeys strive to act their play? Where politicians doze thro' toils inert, Ambitions all their rancious feuds display? Repose domestic in thy home to seek? Love fondly hast joyously to greet you. To listen with delight to words that speek [sic] In accents tender, that fond hearts are true.
Go then Cordelia! and with heart content Enjoy the blessings of a mutual care; With blended faith and charity intent the hours in social happiness to share - While years increasing silent speed their way Fair Memory's tablet shall depict you, And wending swiftly on from day to day Love may prove warm, but friendship be as true.
Louisa Catherine Adams
22 April 1846







Chart Comparing Presidential Powers 
of  America's Four United Republics - Click Here

United Colonies and States First Ladies
1774-1788


United Colonies Continental Congress
President
18th Century Term
Age
09/05/74 – 10/22/74
29
Mary Williams Middleton (1741- 1761) Deceased
Henry Middleton
10/22–26/74
n/a
05/20/ 75 - 05/24/75
30
05/25/75 – 07/01/76
28
United States Continental Congress
President
Term
Age
07/02/76 – 10/29/77
29
Eleanor Ball Laurens (1731- 1770) Deceased
Henry Laurens
11/01/77 – 12/09/78
n/a
Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802)
12/ 10/78 – 09/28/78
21
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
09/29/79 – 02/28/81
41
United States in Congress Assembled
President
Term
Age
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
03/01/81 – 07/06/81
42
07/10/81 – 11/04/81
25
Jane Contee Hanson (1726-1812)
11/05/81 - 11/03/82
55
11/03/82 - 11/02/83
46
Sarah Morris Mifflin (1747-1790)
11/03/83 - 11/02/84
36
11/20/84 - 11/19/85
46
11/23/85 – 06/06/86
38
Rebecca Call Gorham (1744-1812)
06/06/86 - 02/01/87
42
02/02/87 - 01/21/88
43
01/22/88 - 01/29/89
36

Constitution of 1787
First Ladies
President
Term
Age
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
57
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
52
Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
September 6, 1782  (Aged 33)
n/a
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
40
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
48
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
50
December 22, 1828 (aged 61)
n/a
February 5, 1819 (aged 35)
n/a
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
65
April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842
50
June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
23
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
41
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
60
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
52
March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
46
n/a
n/a
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
42
February 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
54
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
43
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
45
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
48
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
n/a
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
21
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
56
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
28
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
49
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
40
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
47
March 4, 1913 – August 6, 1914
52
December 18, 1915 – March 4, 1921
43
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
60
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
44
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
54
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
48
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
60
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
56
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
31
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
50
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
56
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
56
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
49
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
59
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
63
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
45
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
54
January 20, 2009 to date
45





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