by John L. Smith, Jr.
Westholme Publishing, 2024
Cloth: 978-1-59416-421-7 | eISBN: 978-1-59416-708-9

A Wall Street Journal Spring Books 2024 Selection: “What to Read This Spring”

An Extraordinary Portrait of America’s Beloved Female Founder and First Lady
Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was an eyewitness to America’s founding, and helped guide the new nation through her observations and advice to her famously prickly husband, who cherished her. She met many important and significant figures of the period: George Washington and his wife Martha, Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Knox, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, John Jay, Marquis de Lafayette, John Paul Jones, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, artist Patience Wright, and even King George III and Queen Charlotte of England, as well as King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France. In The Unexpected Abigail Adams: A Woman “Not Apt to Be Intimidated”, writer and researcher John L. Smith, Jr., draws on more than two thousand letters of Abigail’s spanning from the 1760s to her death in 1818, interweaving Abigail’s colorful correspondence—some of which has not appeared in print before—with a contextual narrative. In this priceless documentation of one of the most important periods of world history she comments on the varied personalities she encountered and, while her husband was away from home serving in the Continental Congresses and as a diplomatic envoy in Europe, she wrote him frequently about their home in Massachusetts, their family, national and local politics, and, during the early years of the war, crucial information concerning revolutionary activities around Boston. She was an advocate for education for women, a shrewd businesswoman, and had an unrivaled political acumen. Her strength in the face of disease, loss of children, and other hardships, and her poignant, beautiful, and often philosophical commentary, advice, and predictions allow Abigail to demonstrate her fully modern sensibilities. This major biography of Abigail, the first in over ten years, is a riveting, revealing portrait of a remarkable woman that readers will find very relatable—and one that transforms how she is perceived.