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By Harlow Giles Unger

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40 With her husband gone for all but four of the previous twenty-four months, Abigail had taken a dominant role in the Adams household. When a smallpox epidemic swept into Boston, she confronted the dreaded disease by taking her children and sixteen relatives to Boston to submit to inoculation with live infected serum. Although she and John Quincy emerged unscathed, the vaccine left eleven-year-old Nabby ill for several days and six-year-old Charles so sick he needed weeks to recover. She also oversaw the farm, farmhands, and household servants, as well as the buying and selling of lands.

John Quincy tried assuaging his father’s fears with a pledge to defend the family and the family home. ”35 Adams surprised his wife in December by appearing at the farm unexpectedly—only to surprise her even more, four days later, by leaving for Watertown, Massachusetts, to report to the Provincial Congress. He returned home three weeks after that—then left for Philadelphia almost immediately, with hardly a moment for John Quincy and the other children. ” After he left, she decided to cease writing him after one last message.

I wish you were nearer to us. 15 John Adams, second President of the United States and father of John Quincy Adams, the nation’s sixth President. He had been a prominent lawyer before attending the first two Continental Congresses, and his Thoughts on Government served as the basis for constitutions in nine of the thirteen states after independence. (AFTER A PORTRAIT BY JOHN SINGLETON COPLEY; NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE, ADAMS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK) Visibly upset by Abigail’s letter, John Adams replied by return, “Oh that I was a soldier!

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