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By Katherine Amelia Siobhan Sibley
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Extra resources for A companion to first ladies
Her own health had been precarious for some years (she only spent about half of John’s presidency with him in Philadelphia and Washington) and quiet seclusion in Quincy held great appeal. In one of his last letters to Abigail, John thanked her for coming down to join him in Washington, DC, where he would soon be turned out of office. He noted: “it is fit and proper that you and I should retire together and not one before the other” (Hogan and Taylor, 2007: 473). He spoke correctly. The retirement was not his alone, though his life would change far more than Abigail’s would.
Martha rushed to be by her son’s side, but she arrived too late. Jacky died in 1781. The First First Lady After the passing of Jacky Custis, her sole remaining child, Mrs. Washington adopted his two youngest children and raised them as her own. This was not an uncommon practice at the time, especially in families such as the Washingtons’, who had the financial means and the space available to raise the children at home. The older two Custis children remained with their mother, who eventually remarried.
The siege of Boston limited Abigail’s access to the main port in her region, and she routinely encountered soldiers marching past her home en route to encampments outside the city. She noted to John: “We live in continual expectation of allarms. Courage I know we have in abun dance, conduct I hope we shall not want, but powder—where shall we get a sufficient supply? , 1963–2013, 1: 217). She watched the Battle of Bunker Hill with her son John Quincy from the top of Penn’s Hill, near her home; her letter to John describing it was the first report on the battle to reach Philadelphia.
A companion to first ladies by Katherine Amelia Siobhan Sibley