July: Always a Busy Month

Everyone knows what happened in July of 1776. But July tended to be a busy month, personally, especially for Abigail. During that year, of course, John was in Philadelphia, helping to craft the Declaration of Independence. The war had been going on since April of 1775, but things were peaceful in Boston, for the time being, as the British had pulled out in March of 1776. Abigail had seen too many people die of smallpox, and John had been inoculated before they were married. So she took her four children: Nabby, John Quincy, Charlie and Tommy, to Boston to undergo the inoculation process in July, 1776. The children ranged in age from 4-11. This was an incredibly brave thing to do and a painful process, and one might not survive the inoculation, but she and several members of her extended family made the trip and endured it all together.

But, backing up, just about exactly nine months after they were married, Abigail gave birth to Abigail (nicknamed Nabby) on July 14, 1765. On July 11, 1767, John Quincy was born. Sadly, another daughter, Elizabeth, was stillborn on July 11, 1777. Abigail had high hopes for this new baby (which was her last at age 32) since she was born on John Quincy’s birth anniversary, but although full-term and perfect, something had gone drastically wrong in the last days of her pregnancy. Little Nabby, who had been hoping for a little sister, cried for hours.

John and Abigail had six children, total. Little Susanna was born on December 28, 1768, but had really failed to thrive and died on February 4, 1770, just beginning to talk and toddle. Charles was born that May after Susanna’s death, and Thomas was born in 1772. Charles only lived until he was 30 and Thomas died in 1832. Neither were a success at business or the law and both were alcoholics. This, plus the deaths of the two little girls, were a great sadness to both of them, but Abigail, especially, was hard hit, with John’s long absences thrown in for an extra measure of hardship.

In June and July of 1784, Abigail and Nabby sailed from Boston to meet John Quincy in London and eventually the family settled in France for a time, before John was appointed the first American minister to Great Britain, and they moved to London.

And finally, John passed away at the Old House (Peace Field) in Quincy, on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of American Independence – as did Thomas Jefferson at his beloved Monticello.

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