First Ladies – Louisa Adams


Louisa Johnson Adams


  • Born in London, England, February 12, 1775, she is the only first lady who was not born in the United States.
  • Married John Quincy Adams, July 26, 1797
  • Had four children
    • George Washington Adams (1801-1829), John Adams, II (1803-1834), Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886), Louisa Catherine Adams (1811-1812)
  • At the time of their marriage, his father was President of the United States, he was named the Minister of Prussia.
  • In 1800, he was called back to America because his father did not want to give Thomas Jefferson the opportunity to make it a political issue.
  • In 1802, he was elected by the state senate to the U.S. Senate.
  • In 1807, he broke with the Federalist party and resigned the next year.
  • President Madison named him the Minister to Russia, with Louisa Adams eventually following him to St. Petersburg.
  • In 1812, he left her in St. Petersburg when he was assigned to Ghent Belgium to negotiate the treaty to end the naval war with Great Britain. She undertook a six week trip from Russia to France in the middle of winter and war with her youngest son and her sister.
  • When John Quincy Adams was appointed James Monroe’s Secretary of State in 1817 she moved to Washington DC.
  • During this time she developed the reputation of being a great hostess for entertaining the diplomatic corps and other notables.
  • First Lady from March 4, 1825 to March 3, 1829
  • When they left the White House she thought she would remain in Massachusetts however, John Quincy Adams returned to Washington DC for seventeen years of service in the House of Representatives. She remained in Washington DC until her death.
  • She died on May 15, 1852
  • Interesting facts
    From the National First Ladies Library

    She and Adams bought the former home of James and Dolley Madison on the city’s then-fashionable F Street of rowhouses and she had it enlarged with the specific purpose of constant and large entertainments, again to give a sense of national prominence to her husband. Her most famous effort was a January 8, 1824 ball honoring General Andrew Jackson on the 10th anniversary of his successful defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans. It was the Adams’ camp’s recognition that he and Jackson were the leading contenders in the presidential election ten months later. Jackson and Louisa Adams spent most of the party on each other’s arms as hostess and her guest, and the general was as solicitous of her as she was of him. It was also an unsubtle (and unsuccessful) attempt by John Quincy and Louisa Adams to manipulate Jackson into either throwing his support to Adams or considering running as his vice presidential candidate. About one thousand guests attended and the Washington Republican newspaper even memorialized the event in seven stanzas the morning before the ball actually took place. Louisa Adams continued to canvas for her husband using the social parlor as Dolley Madison had done.

    Focus while in the White House
    The politics of the campaign for his election to the White House left her in a deep depression. In addition, she was not in good health. She continued to her weekly drawing room entertainment, but preferred quiet evenings. Their relationship suffered while they were in the White House. John Quincy Adams is said to have made a back room deal to be named President. She was quite disappointed in his decision to make this deal. During this time she became interested in women’s rights and equality. She was not treated well by the press, and was the first First Lady to be attacked by the press. She is also the first First Lady who responded by writing articles to defend herself.


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