Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Family Life

Business and politics separated John Adams from his wife and family for much of the time. When Adams was a young lawyer, his travels to distant villages on the court circuit kept him away. Even when he was at home, Abigail scolded him for staying out late at night while attending various meetings. After 1776, he spent weeks and months abroad or in Philadelphia on government business. It seems that John Adams spent little time with his family.

Abigail often felt lonely and miserable, especially when Adams was not with her for the birth of their children. Usually, she viewed her suffering as a patriotic sacrifice. Her most trying time was in 1777, when she lost her unborn baby while Adams was in Philadelphia. Only the death in 1800 of her son Charles from acute alcoholism ever affected her more.