Abigail Smith, future wife of President John Adams
Photo Credit : Wikimedia Commons
Several United States Presidents hailed from New England. For example, John F. Kennedy was born in Massachusetts and Franklin Pierce was from New Hampshire. But what about New England First Ladies? There are only a handful of First Ladies who can claim full status as a true Yankee. They represent four of the six New England States, and stood by the commanders and chief of this country for a collective 26 years. Learn more about this fascinating group of women.
GUIDE TO NEW ENGLAND FIRST LADIES
Abigail Smith (1744 – 1818)
Abigail Smith was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts. She did not have a formal education, but her mother educated her at home, and Smith became a well-read and outspoken woman. She married her third cousin, John Adams, in 1764 and accompanied him to the White House in 1797. Throughout her time in the white house, she voiced her concerns over the lack of rights afforded to women. She believed in a woman’s right to own property and have an education. She abhorred slavery and made her opinions known.
Jane Pierce (1806 – 1863)
Born and raised in Hampton, New Hampshire, Jane Pierce spent four years (1853 – 1857) in the White House with her husband, Franklin Pierce (also a native New Englander from New Hampshire). Jane was rather quiet and prone to bouts of depression. She did not support her husband’s decision to run for president, and did not participate a lot in the happenings and goings on at the White House. However, she is nonetheless one of the esteemed First Ladies form New England who was fond of her husband and shared a close relationship with him.
Edith Kermit Carow (1861 – 1948)
Edith Kermit Carow, the third of our First Ladies from New England, was born in Norwich, Connecticut. She attended Miss Comstock’s school, a finishing school for girls. She ascended to the position of First Lady in 1901 when her husband, Theodore Roosevelt, was named President (1901 – 1909). It was by her design that the West Wing of the White House was constructed. The new wing for executive offices left her with the second floor of the house to raise her family. She was instrumental in decorating and designing the interior of the White House and setting it up to be a true symbol of power.
Grace Anna Goodhue (1879 – 1957)
Grace Anna Goodhue grew up in Burlington, Vermont. She went to the University of Vermont and graduated with a degree in teaching. She worked at a school for the hearing impaired in Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1904, she married Calvin Coolidge. Grace was not interested in politics and kept a low profile throughout her husband’s early career. She served in the White House as First Lady from 1923-1929. Grace was not as outspoken as Abigail on policy, but she did support causes and organizations of the time, such as the Red Cross.
Do you have a favorite of the New England First Ladies?