Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams

                    Louisa Catherine Johnson was born on February 12, 1775, in London, England, to Joshua Johnson and Catherine Nuth-Johnson.  Her father was an American merchant, who was originally from Maryland and served as United States consul general in London after 1790.  Her mother was an Englishwoman.  Louisa had six sisters and one brother:  Ann, Caroline, Harriet, Catherine, Elizabeth, Adelaide, and Thomas.  Louisa's family moved from London to Nantes, France to find refuge during the American Revolution.  Louisa was four years old when she first met John Quincy Adams (age twelve) then traveling through France with his father.
                    The second meeting between Louisa and John Quincy Adams took place in London, 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, England.  John Adams was at the time serving at President of the United States and objected to John Quincy marrying a non-American; however, he overcame his objections and welcome Louisa into his family.
                    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 United States.  After bankruptcy, her father was appointed by President John Adams as U.S. Director of Stamps and died in Frederick, Maryland, in 1802 of severe fever and some mental problems.  Her mother died in 1811.
                    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 Massachusetts 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.
                    John Quincy went from Russia to Ghent in 1814 for peace negotiations and then to London.  In order for Louisa to join him, she endured a "forty-day journey across war-ravaged Europe by coach in winter and roving bands of stragglers and highwaymen" and "`unspeakable terrors' for her son."
                    Louisa and her family moved to Washington, D.C. 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."
                    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 Adams 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 Massachusetts 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.
                    John Quincy Adams died at the United States Capitol in 1848, and Louisa remained in Washington, D.C. 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 United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts.  This church is also known as the Church of the Presidents.

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