Contact: Caroline Keinath, 617-773-1177
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
12:00PM – 1:30PM
Adams National Historical Park Visitor Center at President’s Place Galleria at 1250 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA
QUINCY, MA - Adams National Historical Park welcomes author, Louisa Thomas whose groundbreaking biography, The Adventures of an Extraordinary Woman: The Life of Louisa Catherine Adams, is the first biography of 6th United States First Lady, Louisa Adams’ life in full.
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In her unpublished diaries and memoirs, Louisa writes not only the details of her days but also of, more significantly, her rich inner life, her thoughts and feelings, and her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. She longed to be taken seriously. With Louisa, the story of Louisa Catherine Adams is one of a woman who forged a sense of self. And at Thomas’ pen we have a deeply felt account of a woman frequently overlooked that allows us to know her independently of her famous husband. Here we finally have a record of the full record of a life and the moving narrative of her journey.
This program is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow. Validated parking is available in the parking garage at Presidents Place Galleria, 1250 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA 02169. For more information, call the Visitor Center at 617-770-1175.
Louisa Thomas is the author of Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family—a Test of Will and Faith in World War I. She is a former writer and editor for Grantland and a former fellow at the New America Foundation. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, The Paris Review, and other places.
Last updated: January 23, 2017