Showing posts with label Famous Wives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Famous Wives. Show all posts


Mary Hellen Adams

Daughter-in-Law of John Quincy and Louisa Adams

First Lady Louisa Johnson Adams, wife of sixth United States President John Quincy Adams, invited her niece Mary Catherine Hellen to live with her family at the White House after the death of her father. The shameless young hussy proceeded to seduce all three Adams boys before settling on their middle son John Adams II, whom she married at the White House February 25, 1828.

Mary Catherine Hellen married John Adams II
The Reluctant Bride by Auguste Toulmouche
No image of Mary Hellen Adams available

Smith-Adams Curse

Today alcoholism is recognized as a disease that can be inherited. The families of the second U.S. president and First Lady Abigail Adams were greatly affected by that affliction. William Smith was Abigail's only brother. By the time he was thirty, William had become a heavy drinker, was always in debt, and eventually deserted his wife and four children. He was then involved in some questionable activities that bordered on the criminal, and he died at the age of forty-two. The men of the Adams family suffered similar fates.

Sons of John and Abigail Adams

The sons of John Adams (second president of the United States) and his son John Quincy Adams (sixth president of the United States) shared several unique traits. Both of these men were often absentee fathers who spent much of their time away from their families serving in the government. Of John and Abigail Adams' three sons, only their eldest, John Quincy Adams, would make his parents proud of his achievements.

Their other two sons - Charles and Thomas Boylston Adams - died of alcoholism. Both of these men had unique personalities and great abilities but were considered mentally unstable. After struggling with alcoholism for many years, Charles Adams, their second son, died of cirrhosis of the liver November 30, 1800 at the age of thirty.

Their youngest, Thomas Boylston Adams, served in the Massachusetts legislature and was appointed chief justice of the Circuit Court of Common Pleas for the Southern Circuit of Massachusetts in 1811. His plan to combine legal work and farming was largely unsuccessful, due to his frequent illness and struggles with alcoholism. He lived to the age of fifty-nine, but left his family deep in debt.

Despite all of his successes, John Quincy Adams suffered most of his life from melancholy and self-doubt. After successfully serving in almost every important position in the United States government, he wrote in his diary that he had accomplished nothing in his life. His children shared the same traits displayed by their father and uncles. Their youngest son, Charles Francis Adams, developed a career in diplomacy and politics.

Third Adams Generation

John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa Adams also had three sons, two of whom fell under the old Smith-Adams curse. Only the third son would rise to meet their great expectations. They named their first son George Washington Adams (1801–1829) after the first president; their second son John Adams II was given the name of his grandfather, second U.S. president, John Adams. Their youngest son, Charles Francis Adams would become the most successful.

Enter Mary Hellen

Mary Catherine Hellen was born September 10, 1806 in Washington, DC, the daughter of Walter Hellen and Anne Johnson Hellen - First Lady Louisa Adams' sister. Mary became an orphan after the death of her father in 1815. When John Quincy Adams was appointed Secretary of State under President James Monroe in 1817, the Adams family moved to Washington DC, and Louisa Adams took her niece Mary into her household.

Within a few years, Mary had blossomed into a beautiful girl with an outrageous talent for flirting. Her first conquest was the youngest Adams son, Charles Francis, but she soon abandoned him for his older brother, George Washington Adams. A bitter, rejected Charles described her as "one of the most capricious women that were ever formed in a capricious race."

Mary then captured the attention of George Washington Adams, of the three Adams sons. George was a sensitive young man without the slightest bit of character. Mary accepted George's marriage proposal, but his parents insisted that George finish his education before the wedding. So, off George went off to Harvard.

In the meantime, John Quincy Adams was elected president of the United States in 1825, and the whole extended family moved into the White House. About that time, the middle son, John Adams II, was expelled from Harvard for participating in a student riot. John was described as arrogant and brusque in manner, a great change from his older brother George. As the custom was at the time, John moved into the White House to serve as his father's secretary. John's daily interactions with Mary prompted whispers within the White House.

Louisa Adams watched with worry as she had little faith in her niece's chastity. She urged her husband to have the couple married immediately, but John Quincy would not consent.

George Washington Adams

As John Quincy Adams filled several government positions, some overseas, the two older boys were forced to spend most of their childhood away from their parents. In July 1809, John Quincy accepted an appointment as ambassador to Russia, and he insisted that the two older boys - George and John II, then ages eight and six - remain in America with family to continue their education. This was all done on very short notice and without the approval of their mother, who left in tears.

Mary Hellen Adams' fiance
Image: George Washington Adams

They were not reunited with their parents until 1815, when President James Madison appointed John Quincy minister to Great Britain. Again, in September 1817, when John Quincy became secretary of state, their parents moved to Washington, DC, but John II and Charles Francis were enrolled in the Boston Public Latin School and boarded with friends of their parents.

George Washington Adams (1801-1829) was handsome and charming, and he was considered the most likely candidate to carry on the family tradition of public service. In 1826, he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature. Soon after, he developed a "debilitating nervous condition." He began hallucinating and became paranoid.

Then came Mary Hellen and the heartbreak of losing her to his brother John II. George felt his failure in love as keenly as he felt his failure to win his parents' approval. The depression and inadequacy of the Smith-Adams curse seized George. Though he graduated from Harvard and started a law practice in Boston, he drank heavily and accumulated large debts. His father was forced to pay off some of his debts.

In the aftermath of John II's wedding to Mary Hellen in February 1828, George Washington Adams began his descent into alcoholism and depression. In spring 1829, John Quincy summoned George to Washington to assist his parents as they prepared to move back to Massachusetts. George had recently fathered an illegitimate child with a chambermaid, and his brother Charles Francis wrote that George "quivered with fear" at the prospect of his parents' reproach.

Aboard the steamer Benjamin Franklin headed for Washington, George became agitated and accused the other passengers of plotting against him.

George Washington Adams drowned April 30, 1829 after either falling or jumping from the steamboat in Long Island Sound. He was twenty-eight-years-old. His body washed up on City Island six weeks later. His death was marked as lost at sea, but was considered by most as a suicide.

Charles Francis, by then happily married to the wealthy Abigail Brooks Adams, cleaned up the messes his brother left behind.

John Adams II

John Adams II (1803-1834) was born July 4, 1803 in Quincy, Massachusetts, the second son of John Quincy and Louisa Adams. John II entered Harvard in August 1819. His academic career was marked by mediocre work. In 1823, shortly before he would have graduated, he participated in an 1823 student rebellion that protested the curriculum and living conditions at the university. Along with more than half the members of his class, he was expelled.

husband of Mary Hellen Adams
Image: John Adams II

He spent the following summer with his grandfather in Quincy and in October moved to Washington to study law with his father. He lived with his parents in their house on F Street, along with his cousin Mary Hellen, who had been living with the the Adamses since 1817. John II drank heavily, following in the footsteps of his uncle, Thomas Boylston Adams, a more or less functioning alcoholic.

When John Quincy became President in 1825, his middle son moved with the family to the White House to serve as his secretary, a common practice at the time. A romance developed between John and Mary Hellen, his brother George's fiancee; the President and First Lady knew their eldest son would be heartbroken.

Marriage and Family

On February 25, 1828, Mary Catherine Hellen, age 22, married John Adams II, age 25, in a private ceremony at the White House, which was then known as the Executive Mansion. The jilted Charles Francis and George Washington Adams refused to attend the wedding. Louisa Adams wrote to Charles Francis the following day: "Madame [Mary] is cool easy and indifferent as ever," and that he should not envy his brother for he "looks already as if he had all the cares in the world upon his shoulders and my heart tells me that here is much to fear."

Nine months later - December 2, 1828 - Mary Hellen Adams gave birth to a daughter at the White House; they named the child Mary Louisa - for her mother and grandmother. A second daughter, Georgeanna Frances - named after her father's brothers - was born September 10, 1830. Louisa and John Quincy were delighted with the girls; their only daughter had died in infancy. But pregnancy and motherhood did not suit Mary Hellen; she was often ill and disheartened.

In 1827, John II had begun running a family-owned Washington flour mill, Columbian Mills, but failed miserably at the business. A relative was eventually given charge of the mill, and John fell into debt and despair, spending most of his time at his home near the White House, abusing alcohol and not bothering to dress. His health soon failed. At home in Massachusetts, John Quincy Adams received word that his son was near death. The former president reached his son's bedside a few hours before he died.

John Adams II died October 23, 1834 from complications of alcoholism at the age of thirty-one.

This loss, just five years after his brother's suspected suicide, caused his parents great anguish. It appears that the shared grief over the early deaths of their two older sons began to mend the long-strained relationship between John Quincy and Louisa Adams.

Mary Hellen Adams was a widow at 31. By the time of John's death, Mary was a reclusive, prematurely old woman. She and her daughters lived in Quincy and Boston with her in-laws. Four years after John died, their youngest daughter Frances became ill and died at the age of nine.

The failures of George Washington Adams and John Adams II might be traced to their childhoods.

The Good Son: Charles Francis Adams

As John Quincy Adams was the only successful son of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams was John Quincy's only successful son. Charles' children and grandchildren were also quite successful. An author, diplomat and politician, Charles Francis served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate from 1841 through 1845. He then purchased the Boston Whig newspaper and served as its editor. He wrote a number of important historical works, including a biography of his father.

had an affair with Mary Hellen Adams
Image: Charles Francis Adams

In 1848, Charles Francis Adams was chosen as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Free Soil Party, running with Martin Van Buren; the election was won by Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore. Charles Francis served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1859-1861, when President Lincoln appointed him U.S. Minister to Great Britain, a position previously held by both his father and grandfather.

From 1861 through 1868, Charles Francis Adams served as ambassador to Great Britain, a post previously held by his father and grandfather. He helped maintain British neutrality and prevented their recognition of the Confederate State of America during the American Civil War. In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him to the international commission formed to determine damage claims stemming from England's support and aid given to the South during the Civil War. Adams won a $15 million claim for the United States.

Mary Hellen Adams continued to reside with the former President and First Lady, running their household and tending to their needs until their deaths.

Late Years

On June 30, 1853, Mary Hellen's surviving daughter, Mary Louisa Adams, wed William Clarkson Johnson, a great-grandson of John Adams. They were the first descendants of a president to marry each other. Mary Hellen moved with her daughter and son-in-law to Utica, New York, where every three months Charles Francis gave her money from her inheritance and tried to cheer her up.

Mary Louisa Adams Johnson became ill with brain fever and died July 16, 1859.

William Johnson eventually ordered Mary Hellen out of the house. Charles Francis invited her to come live in Quincy, but she refused. She moved into her former home in Washington, where Charles Francis visited her and made sure she had financial support. "I feel for her much, though my recollections of her are mostly painful," he said.

Mary Catherine Hellen Adams died August 31, 1870 in Bethlehem, New Hampshire at the age of sixty-three.

Wikipdedia: John Adams II
White House Weddings: John Adams II, A Love Triangle
Massachusetts Historical Society: Adams Biographical Sketches
Presidential History Blog: The Adams Sorrow: The Second Generation
New England Historical Society: Mary Hellen Picks the Wrong Son of John Quincy Adams
White House Weddings: John Adams II and Mary Catherine Hellen: The seduction of a president's son


Anna Murray Douglass

Wife of Former Slave Frederick Douglass

Anna Murray Douglass was an American abolitionist, member of the Underground Railroad, and the first wife of orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Her life illustrates the challenges faced by women who marry famous men.

Image: Anna Murray Douglass

Early Years
Anna Murray was born free to Bambarra and Mary Murray in Denton, Maryland in 1813. Anna was ambitious; by the age of 17 she had moved to Baltimore and established herself as a laundress and housekeeper and was earning a decent income, especially for someone so young.


Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith

Abolitionist and Women's Rights Activist

Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith and her husband Gerrit Smith were wealthy activists and philanthropists who committed themselves to the movement to end slavery in 1835. They were prominent members of antislavery societies in New York State and on a national level.

Image: Gerrit and Ann Fitzhugh Smith Mansion
This house was a refuge for the many escaped slaves who received food and comfort on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Early Years
Ann Carroll Fitzhugh was born January 11, 1805. Her father William Fitzhugh, a colonel in the Continental Army, built a home near Chewsville, Maryland which he called The Hive because of the many activities carried on by his twelve children and the work necessary to sustain life in the surrounding wilderness. Fitzhugh left Maryland for New York, where - along with Colonel Nathaniel Rochester and Charles Carroll - he purchased the "100-acre Tract" at the Genesee Falls that would become the city of Rochester.


Eunice White Beecher

Wife of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher

author and minister's wife
Eunice White Beecher was also author of a novel, From Dawn to Daylight, and several books about housekeeping. Her husband, Henry Ward Beecher of the illustrious Beecher family, became one of the most famous men in the United States during the 19th century.

Early Years
Eunice White Bullard was born August 26, 1812 in West Sutton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Lucy White Bullard and Dr. Artemas Bullard. Eunice was educated in Hadley, Massachusetts. In the meantime, Henry Ward Beecher, almost a year younger than Eunice, had a stammer and was considered one of the less promising of the brilliant Beecher children.

THIS MY 500th POST !


Mary Peabody Mann

Activist, Educator, and Wife of Horace Mann

Mary Peabody Mann was a teacher, author, and wife of education reformer Horace Mann. Mary carried a passion for education, especially of young children, in her breast from her youngest days. She was well educated by her mother and role model Eliza Palmer Peabody, who ran a school from their home and was an early advocate of women's rights.

Early Years
Mary Tyler Peabody was born November 16, 1806 in Cambridge and grew up in Salem, both in Massachusetts. Her parents, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Peabody were schoolteachers when they married; after the wedding, they reserved one room in their home as a classroom.


Lucy Bakewell Audubon

Educator and Wife of John James Audubon

wife of artist and woodsman John James Audubon
Lucy Bakewell met Frenchman John James Audubon when he came to America in 1803 to oversee his father's estate, Mill Grove, next door to Lucy's family home, Fatland Ford. Audubon was eighteen; Lucy was sixteen, and she might have been jealous of his new passion: American birds. She was educated and physically strong, and she sometimes observed birds in the forest with Audubon.

Image: Lucy Bakewell Audubon in 1831

Early Years
Born January 18, 1787 in England to a wealthy family, Lucy was the daughter of William Bakewell and Lucy Green. The family immigrated to the United States in 1801 and settled on an estate called Fatland Ford near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. John James Audubon spent his childhood largely outdoors in the French countryside. He trained briefly as an artist in Paris and started observing and painting birds. In 1803 Audubon's father sent him to America to oversee the family plantation, Mill Grove, which adjoined the Bakewell estate.


Abigail Brooks Adams

wife of U.S. Minister to England

Wife of Charles Francis Adams

Abigail Brown Brooks was born April 25, 1808 in Medford, Massachusetts, the youngest of three daughters of Peter Chardon Brooks and Ann Gorham Brooks. Peter Brooks was one of the wealthiest men in Boston, and he and his wife were highly regarded in Boston society.

Image: Portrait of Abigail Brooks Adams
By William E. West, 1847

Third son of John Quincy and Louisa Adams, Charles Francis Adams was born August 18, 1807 in Boston. He spent most of his early childhood abroad, where his father had diplomatic appointments. Charles Francis, like his father and grandfather, attended Harvard College, graduating in 1825. He spent the next two years studying law in Washington DC while his family occupied the White House. Returning to Boston in 1827, Charles Francis studied in the law office of Daniel Webster; in 1828 was admitted to the bar.


Lucretia Clay

Lucretia Clay and husband, popular politician Henry Clay

Wife of U.S. Senator Henry Clay

Lucretia Hart was born March 18, 1781 in Hagerstown, Maryland into a wealthy and socially prominent family. She moved to Kentucky with her parents in 1784. Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, in Hanover County, Virginia to a middle-class family. Clay studied for the bar with the eminent George Wythe [link], and at age 20, moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he developed a thriving practice and met his future wife.

Image: Lucretia and Henry Clay

After a brief courtship, Lucretia Hart married Henry Clay April 11, 1799 at her family home in Lexington, Kentucky. Though Lucretia was not physically attractive, neither was Clay. Far more important were her family connections, which placed Clay among the best and most influential political circles in Kentucky. That he loved to drink and gamble was no drawback in an age that admired both vices.


Sarah Knox Taylor

wife of future Confederate president Jefferson Davis

Daughter of President Zachary Taylor

Sarah Knox Taylor was the daughter of Zachary Taylor, a career military officer and future U.S. president (1849-4850). She met future Confederate president Jefferson Davis while living with her family at Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. They wed in 1835, but the marriage was short-lived.

Sarah Knox Taylor was born on March 6, 1814 Margaret Smith Taylor and future president Zachary Taylor. Her middle name and her nickname Knoxie originated from Fort Knox II in Vincennes, Indiana, where she was born. She had three sisters and a brother, and grew up in various military installations, receiving most of her education from her mother.


Margaret Taylor

U.S. First Lady and wife of President Zachary Taylor
Margaret Taylor was the wife of Zachary Taylor and the 13th official First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1849 through July 9, 1850. Although she supervised the running of the White House, she left the hostessing duties to her daughter Betty. The sudden and unexpected death of her husband abruptly ended her time as first lady.

Early Years
Margaret 'Peggy' Smith was born in Calvert County, Maryland on September 21, 1788, the daughter of Walter Smith and Ann Mackall Smith. Her father was a prosperous Maryland tobacco planter and veteran officer of the Revolutionary War, and Peggy was raised in a large brick plantation house.


Virginia Clemm

Virginia Clemm at age 13 married author Edgar Allan Poepoet Edgar Allan Poe, author of The Raven

Wife of Author Edgar Allan Poe

Virginia Clemm (1822-1847) was the wife of poet and author Edgar Allan Poe, who was best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre. They were first cousins who married when Virginia was 13 and Poe was 27. Poe's love for Virginia Clemm was as constant as his often self-destructive determination to work in nineteenth-century America as a professional writer.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) was one of the earliest practitioners of the short story, and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, and is credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.


Letitia Tyler

10th First Lady of the United States

10th First Lady of the United States

Letitia Tyler (1790–1842), first wife of President John Tyler, was First Lady from April 4, 1841 until her death on September 10, 1842. After giving birth to eight children in fifteen years, Letitia Tyler suffered a stroke, which left her unable to walk. Yet her poor physical health did not prevent her from overseeing her family's successful Virginia plantation and raising their children. In fact, it was Letitia's success in these roles throughout their married life that allowed John Tyler to pursue his political ambitions full time.

Childhood and Early Years
Letitia Christian was born on November 12, 1790 on a Tidewater Virginia plantation named Cedar Grove in New Kent County, about twenty miles from Richmond. She was the daughter of Colonel Robert Christian, a prosperous planter, and Mary Brown Christian. Letitia was described as shy, quiet, pious, and by all accounts utterly selfless and devoted to her family.


Rachel Jackson

seventh First Lady of the United States

Seventh First Lady of the United States

Rachel Donelson Jackson was the wife of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States. As a child, Rachel was brought to the homes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, all of whom were colleagues of her father in the House of Burgesses. Although she died before President Jackson took office, Rachel Jackson is considered an American First Lady.

Rachel Donelson was a child of the frontier. Born near present-day Chatham, Virginia in June 1767, she journeyed to the Tennessee wilderness with her parents when only 12. Her father Colonel John Donelson was a Revolutionary War soldier, member of the Virginia Assembly and co-founder of the new settlement of Fort Nashborough, later to be named Nashville, Tennessee.


Elizabeth Grimke Rutledge

Wife of Founding Father John Rutledge

John Rutledge was a delegate to the South Carolina Assembly, the Stamp Act Congress, the Continental Congress and the U.S. Constitutional Convention, where he signed the United States Constitution. The Founding Father was also Governor of South Carolina from 1776-1782, Chief Justice of South Carolina and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His elder brother, Edward Rutledge, signed the Declaration of Independence.

Delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and signer of the U.S. Constitution
Image: John Rutledge

Elizabeth Grimke was born November 29, 1741, in South Carolina, the daughter of Charleston lawyer Frederick Grimke and Martha (Emmes) Grimke. Elizabeth was the first cousin of John Faucheraud Grimke, father of the famous 19th-century abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke.


Lady Christina Stuart Griffin

lawyer, Continental Congressman and signer of the U.S. Constitution

Wife of Founding Father Cyrus Griffin

Image: Cyrus Griffin

Cyrus Griffin (1749 – 1810) was a lawyer and judge who served as the last President of the Continental Congress, holding office from January 22, 1788, to November 2, 1788. After the ratification of the new United States Constitution rendered the old Congress obsolete, he became a Federal judge.

Lady Christina Stuart was born in 1751 in Peebleshire, Scotland. Cyrus Griffin was born July 16, 1748 in Farnham, Virginia, the son of Leroy and Mary Ann Bertrand Griffin. Griffin studied law at the Temple in London and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he became close friends with Charles Stuart, Lord Linton, first son and heir of the Earl of Traquair. During the Christmas holiday, Charles invited him to his family's estate.


Mary Pinckney

U.S. Senator and Congressman, Ambassador to Spain, Founding Father and signer of the U.S. Constitution

Wife of Founding Father Charles Pinckney

Image: Charles Pinckney

Charles Pinckney (1757-1824) was an American politician who was a signer of the U.S. Constitution, Governor of South Carolina and a member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. An ardent believer in the rights of man, he helped to establish a strong national government so that "the effects of the Revolution may never cease to operate," but continue to serve as an example to others "until they have unshackled all the nations that have firmness to resist the fetters of despotism."

Mary Eleanor Laurens was born April 27, 1770, at Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of Eleanor Ball Laurens and Founding Father Henry Laurens. Charles Pinckney was born into the South Carolina low-country aristocracy on October 26, 1757, the son of Frances Brewton and Charles Pinckney. His father, a wealthy lawyer and planter, owned seven plantations scattered throughout the colony. Snee Farm, which the elder Pinckney purchased in 1754, was one of the family's favorite country retreats.


Elizabeth Phillips Gates

Wife of Revolutionary War General Horatio Gates

Horatio Gates was born in England in 1727. He received a lieutenant's commission in the British Army in 1745. Gates went to Halifax, Nova Scotia in June 1749 and served as aide-de-camp to Colonel Edward Cornwallis, uncle of Charles Cornwallis. In 1752, Colonel Cornwallis returned to England, but Gates served as aide-de-camp to two successors. During this time, he met Elizabeth Phillips, but in order to marry her, he had to improve his prospects, so in January 1754, he returned to London.

Image: General Horatio Gates

There, Gates found that his connections were no help in the present political climate. By June, he had given up and was about to return to Nova Scotia. Then a position came available in a company stationed in Maryland. A captain was ill and wanted to sell his commission. Edward Cornwallis recommended Horatio Gates and Gates was able to purchase the commission.


Mary Middleton Butler

South Carolina delegate to the Constitutional Convention, where he signed the U.S. Constitution

Wife of Founding Father Pierce Butler

Image: Pierce Butler

Mary Middleton was born in 1750, the daughter of Thomas Middleton, South Carolina planter and slave importer. Mary's uncle Arthur Middleton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Mary's grandmother Mary Brandford Bull willed her holdings, including Toogoodoo Plantation, to her four granddaughters. Three of the granddaughters died soon after receiving their inheritance and Bull's vast fortune was all transferred to Mary.

Pierce Butler was born in Ireland on July 11, 1744, and came to America in 1768 as an officer in the British Army. He was a major in the 29th Regiment, which was sent to Boston in 1768 in an effort to suppress the growing colonial resistance against Britain. A detachment from his unit fired the shots during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, in which British redcoats killed five civilian men, thereby intensifying the confrontation between the colonies and England.


Sarah Strong

Caleb Strong, delegate to the Constitutional Convention from Massachusetts

Wife of Massachusetts Founding Father Caleb Strong

Sarah Hooker was born on January 30, 1758, in Northampton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Reverend John Hooker and Sarah Worthington Hooker. Caleb Strong was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on January 9, 1745, the only son of Lt. Caleb Strong and Phebe Lyman Strong. Caleb's ancestor, the Elder John Strong, who settled in Northampton in 1659, established a tannery and became a leading citizen in the affairs of the town and of the church. The Strong tannery was inherited by Caleb's father.

Caleb Strong graduated from Harvard College with highest honors in 1764, then studied law with the eminent Judge Joseph Hawley. Strong returned to Northampton and opened a practice in 1772.


Sarah Morris Mifflin

Copley portrait of Founding Father and wife, Thomas and Sarah Morris Mifflin

Wife of Founding Father Thomas Mifflin

Image: Portrait of Sarah and Thomas Mifflin
By John Singleton Copley, 1773

The Mifflins were the only Philadelphians painted by John Singleton Copley, the greatest artist in the American colonies prior to the Revolution. Copley depicts not only the features and costumes of his sitters, but creates an image of marriage as an equal partnership - an innovative concept in American portraiture at the time. Sarah recalled that Copley required twenty sittings for the hands alone. In the portrait, Sarah is weaving a decorative fringe on a portable loom, which symbolizes their endorsement of the colonists' boycott of highly taxed imported English goods.

Sarah Morris was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 5, 1747. Thomas Mifflin was also born in Philadelphia, on January 10, 1744, the eldest son of wealthy Quaker merchant John Mifflin and Elizabeth Bagnall Mifflin. Thomas attended Philadelphia's grammar schools, and graduated at the age of sixteen from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania).

Following in his father's footsteps, Thomas Mifflin apprenticed himself to an important local merchant, completing his training with a year-long trip to Europe to gain a better insight into markets and trading patterns. In 1765 Mifflin returned to the colonies and founded an import and export business with his younger brother George Mifflin.

Thomas Mifflin married Sarah Morris on March 4, 1765. The young couple - witty, intelligent and wealthy - soon became an ornament in Philadelphia's highest social circles. Sarah was an accomplished and supportive partner.

Military Career
Soon after the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Mifflin left the Continental Congress to serve in the Continental Army. Upon his appointment as a Major in May 1775, John Adams declared that Mifflin "ought to have been a general" because he was the "animating soul" of the revolutionary movement. Soon thereafter, the Quakers disowned him because his involvement with a military force contradicted his faith's pacifist beliefs.

On June 23, 1775, Mifflin was appointed as General George Washington's aide-de-camp, but Mifflin's talents and mercantile background led almost immediately to a more challenging assignment. In August, Washington appointed him Quartermaster General of the Continental Army. Washington believed that Mifflin's personal integrity would protect the Army from the fraud and corruption. Mifflin struggled to eliminate the abuses that existed in the supply system.