Louisa Catherine Johnson was born on February 12, 1775, in
Joshua Johnson and Catherine Nuth-Johnson.
Her father was an American merchant, who was originally from London,
England Maryland and served as United
States consul general in after 1790. Her mother was an Englishwoman. Louisa had six sisters and one brother: Ann, Caroline, Harriet, Catherine, London Elizabeth, ,
and Thomas. Louisa's family moved from Adelaide London to to find
refuge during the American Revolution.
Louisa was four years old when she first met John Quincy Adams (age
twelve) then traveling through Nantes,
with his father. France
The second meeting between Louisa and John Quincy Adams took place in
where her father was serving as American consul. John was at first more interested in Louisa's
older sister but soon turned his attention to Louisa. John was 30 years old and Louisa was 22 years
old when they married on July 26, 1797, at All Hallows Barking parish in London . John Adams was at the time serving at
President of the London, England and objected to John Quincy marrying
a non-American; however, he overcame his objections and welcome Louisa into his
Louisa and John Quincy became parents of four children: George Washington Adams (1801-1829; lawyer), John Adams, II (1803-1834; presidential aide), Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886; diplomat, public official, author), and Louisa Catherine Adams (1811-1812).
Louisa's parents left Europe in 1797 to move to the
. After bankruptcy, her father was appointed by
President John Adams as U.S. Director of Stamps and died in United States ,
in 1802 of severe fever and some mental problems. Her mother died in 1811. Frederick, Maryland
Louisa was sickly with migraine headaches and frequent fainting spells. Over the course of her marriage, she suffered several miscarriages.
When John Quincy was appointed as Minister to
Russia, Louisa took two-year-old Charles Francis
Adams with her but left her two older sons in for education. The tsar's court was glamorous, but the
winters were cold. Louisa also had to
deal with "strange customs, limited funds, and poor health;" her only
daughter was born in 1811 and died in 1812. Massachusetts
John Quincy went from
to Ghent in 1814 for peace negotiations and then
to . In order for Louisa to join him, she endured
a "forty-day journey across war-ravaged London Europe
by coach in winter and roving bands of stragglers and highwaymen" and
"`unspeakable terrors' for her son."
Louisa and her family moved to
in 1817 when John Quincy was appointed by President James Monroe as U.S.
Secretary of State. Her "drawing
room became a center for the diplomatic corps and other notables. Music enhanced her Tuesday Evenings at home,
and theater parties contributed to her reputation as an outstanding
hostess." Washington, D.C.
When John Quincy was elected as President, Louisa became the first First Lady to be foreign born. Louisa's excitement of moving into the White House was "dimmed by the bitter politics of the election" and her own "deep depression." She continued to hold her weekly events in her drawing rooms, but she preferred "quiet evenings of reading, composing music and verse, and playing her harp." She became "reclusive" and "depressed." There was even a time when she "regretted" marrying into the
family because she found the men to be "cold and insensitive." "The necessary entertainments were
always elegant, however; and her cordial hospitality made the last official
reception a gracious occasion although her husband had lost his bid for
re-election and partisan feeling still ran high."
When the family moved from the White House, Louisa thought they were moving to
permanently, but her husband's election to the United States House of
Representatives in 1831 (where he served for seventeen years) changed her
plans. Her two older sons died untimely
deaths, which only added to her burdens. Massachusetts
John Quincy Adams died at the United States Capitol in 1848, and Louisa remained in
until her own death of a
heart attack on May 15, 1852, at the age of 77.
She is buried by his side - along with President John Adams and his wife
Abigail - in the Washington,
D.C. United First Parish
Church in . This church is also known as the Church of
the Presidents. Quincy, Massachusetts