This is a re-run.
I was texting with a friend yesterday when she asked if I’d ever done a post on “the other first lady born outside the United States.
That’s right, Melania Trump is not the first first lady born overseas.
When I sent her the link to this original post, she said, “…definitely worth a re-post…”
So, since yesterday was busier than I care to go into (it was a good day, just crazy busy), I’ll take her advice and re-post this “love” story about Louisa Adams and her husband, President John Quincy Adams.
With any luck, you’ll enjoy it!
If not, blame Val!!!
It was in Nantes that four-year-old Louisa first met her future husband, who at 12 was traveling through France with his father. Her family had taken refuge there during the American Revolution. Daddy was from Maryland, mom was a Brit.
Born in London, she was the only First Lady born outside of the United States
They met again, this time in London. Her father had been appointed American consul.
Her future husband, John Quincy Adams, was initially smitten with her older sister, but after realizing she was “not as pleasant”, he settled on Louisa.
The groom was 30, the bride 22, when they married on July 26, 1797, at All Hallows Barking parish in London, England.
His dad, the POTUS John Adams, objected to the marriage because the bride was born outside the United States.
And we thought xenophobia was new.
Eventually, she charmed the old man, and she was welcomed into the family.
Louisa was sickly, migraine headaches and frequent fainting spells being her cross to bear.
She had several miscarriages over the course of their marriage.
She left her two older sons in Massachusetts for education in 1809, but took their two-year-old, Charles Francis Adams, to Russia when Quincy was called to serve as a Minister to the court of the Tsar.
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.
Peace negotiations called Adams to Ghent in 1814 and then to London. Happy to get out of Russian and 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.
No one was happier to get back to London than Louisa.
When John Quincy Adams was appointed Secretary of State by James Monroe, the family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1817. Louisa’s drawing room became a center for the diplomatic corps and other Washington bigwigs. Music, she played the harp, enhanced her Tuesday evenings at home, and theater parties contributed to her reputation as an outstanding hostess.
Take that Dolly Madison!
Though she should have been happy to move into the White House in 1825, her joy was dimmed by the bitter politics of the election – they’ve always been nasty – coupled with a bout of 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.
She told a friend that she regretted ever having married into the Adams family. She found the Adams men cold and insensitive.
What’s that saying about a picture painting a thousand words…
In his diary for June 23, 1828, her husband records her “winding silk from several hundred silkworms that she has been rearing,” in the White House.
When Quincy lost his bid for re-election in yet again a bitter campaign, they headed back to the Bay State.
Louisa thought she was retiring to Massachusetts permanently, but in 1831 her husband began seventeen years of service in the US House of Representatives. She wasn’t happy about moving back to the filthy city and the untimely deaths of her two oldest sons didn’t help her state of mind.
“Our union has not been without its trials,” John Quincy Adams wrote, admitting to 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 on the job in the US Capitol in 1848.
She stayed in the Washington she despised until her death of a heart attack on May 15, 1852, at the age of 77.