J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, March 03, 2017

Thomas on Louisa Catherine Adams in Quincy, 8 March

I’m breaking into the wall-to-wall Boston Massacre coverage for an extra posting about an event coming up in Quincy.

On Wednesday, 8 March, the Adams National Historical Park will host Louisa Thomas, author of Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams, the first full biography of Louisa Catherine Adams, the sixth U.S. First Lady.

The event description:
Born in London to an American father and a British mother on the eve of the Revolutionary War, Louisa Catherine Johnson was raised in circumstances very different from the New England upbringing of the future president. She was taught to consider herself an American and, more important, to marry one. John Quincy’s life had been dedicated to public service from the earliest age. They had a tempestuous courting yet fell in love despite their differences.

No longer residing in gilded England, she was on the road–a diplomat’s wife on a diplomat’s small stipend. Louisa and John Quincy lived in Prussia where they were viewed suspiciously as upstart rebels and in Tsarist Russia where Louisa was favored at the royal court by Alexander I. They experienced the height of the Napoleonic Wars, and Louisa famously traveled with her young son from wintry Russia to France, encountering hostile troops on the voyage. This lifestyle of traveling back and forth from America and country to country was difficult to bear; she suffered miscarriages, the death of her infant daughter, separation from her two eldest sons, and many illnesses.

Later, when permanently back in the United States, she began to form her own public persona by paying close attention to politics and the actions of former first ladies while keeping in mind John Quincy’s presidential aspirations. She supported his crusade and focused her own efforts on what she called “my campaigne”–hosting parties to promote her husband’s popularity. His presidency was a trying time for them yet it strengthened their already deeply close marriage, which would last half a century.

In her unpublished diaries and memoirs, Louisa writes not only the details of her days but also of, more significantly, her rich inner life, her thoughts and feelings, and her thirst for knowledge. Throughout her life Louisa often felt isolated. This was deepened by her views on gender equality, which were formed early and ripened over time. “I cannot believe that there is any inferiority in the sexes, as far as mind and intellect are concerned,” she wrote.
This program will start at 12:00 noon at the park visitor center, and a book signing will follow. Validated parking is available in the garage at Presidents Place Galleria on Hancock Street. The program itself is free and open to the public.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My friend who is au courant tells me that Wednesday is International Women's Day. Coincidence?