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  Johnson Adams, Louisa Catherine
AffiliationNational Republican  
NameLouisa Catherine Johnson Adams
, Massachusetts , United States
Born February 12, 1775
DiedMay 15, 1852 (77 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedThomas Walker
Feb 04, 2004 10:02am
InfoKnown for:: Only foreign-born First Lady

Also known as: Louisa Catherine Johnson, Louisa Catherine Adams, Louise Johnson Adams

About Louisa Adams: Louisa Adams was born in London, England, making her the only US First Lady who was not born in America. Her father, a Maryland businessman whose brother signed the US Declaration of Independence, was the American consul in London; her father, Catherine Nuth Johnson, was English. She studied in France and in England.

She met American diplomat John Quincy Adams in 1794 and were married on July 26, 1797, despite the disapproval of the groom's mother, Abigail Adams. Immediately after the marriage, her father became bankrupt.

After several miscarriages, Louisa Adams bore her first child, George Washington Adams. At that time, John Quincy Adams was serving as Minister to Prussia, and three weeks later, the family returned to America, where John Quincy Adams practiced law, and in 1803 was elected a US Senator. Two more sons were born in Washington, DC.

In 1809, Louisa Adams and the youngest son accompanied John Quincy Adams to St. Petersburg, where he was to serve as Minister to Russia. A daughter was born in Russia, but died at about a year. In all, Louisa Adams was pregnant fourteen times. She miscarried nine times and one child was stillborn. She later blamed her long absence for the early deaths of her two older sons.

Louisa Adams took up writing to keep her mind from her grief. In 1814, John Quincy Adams was called away on a diplomatic mission, and the next year, Louisa and her son traveled in winter from St. Petersburg to France -- a risky and, as it turned out, challenging journey of forty days. For two years, the Adams lived in England with their three sons.

On returning to America, John Quincy Adams became Secretary of State, and then, in 1824, President of the United States, Louisa Adams making many social calls to help him get elected. Louisa Adams disliked the politics of Washington and was fairly quiet as a First Lady. Just before the end of her husband's term in office, their oldest son died, perhaps by his own hands. Later the next oldest son died, probably as a result of his alcoholism.

From 1830 to 1848, John Quincy Adams served as a Congressman. He collapsed on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1848. A year later Louisa Adams suffered a stroke. She died in 1852 in Washington, DC, and was buried in Quincy, Massachusetts, with her husband and her in-laws, John and Abigail Adams.

She wrote two unpublished books about her own life, with details about life around her in Europe and Washington: Record of My Life in 1825, and The Adventures of a Nobody in 1840.

Places: London, England; Paris, France; Maryland; Russia; Washington, D.C.; Quincy, Massachusetts

Honors: When Louisa Adams died, both houses of Congress adjourned for the day of her funeral. She was the first woman so honored.


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Husband John Quincy Adams 00, 1797-Feb 23, 1848
Son George Washington Adams 1801-1829
Son John Adams, II 1803-1834
Son Charles Francis Adams, Sr. 1807-1886
Grandson John Quincy Adams II 1833-1894
Grandson Charles Francis Adams, Jr. 1835-1915
Grandson Henry Brooks Adams 1838-1918
Daughter Louisa Catherine Adams 1811-1812
Father In-Law John Adams 1735-1826
Mother In-Law Abigail Quincy Smith Adams 1744-1818

  11/04/1828 US First Lady Lost 31.80% (-36.40%)
  02/09/1825 US First Lady - Confirmation Won 62.07% (+37.93%)
  11/02/1824 US First Lady Won 32.18% (+0.00%)
  11/07/1820 US First Lady Lost 0.43% (-99.14%)