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September 2013

Abigail Adams, Smallpox, and the Spirit of 1776

Author Affiliations
  • 1Retired
  • 2private practice
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(9):1067. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.5039

Contemporary portraits of Abigail Adams (1744-1818) show a woman with a genteel, mild-mannered appearance. Behind this calm look, however, was one of America’s most colorful and dedicated patriots.

She and her husband, John Adams, were at the heart of the American Revolution. While John Adams served as a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress, Abigail Adams melted down her treasured pewter spoons to make bullets for Minutemen troops.1 As advisor to her husband, Abigail Adams helped formulate the arguments he used to sway the Continental Congress to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776.