Abigail Smith Gets to Know John Adams
Reading Comprehension Activity

Abigail Smith liked John Adams. The feeling was mutual. But Abigail’s mother didn’t think the young country lawyer was good enough for her daughter who could read, write, and even cipher. What her mother didn’t know was that that young country lawyer would become the second President of the United States. Students will read the story and respond to questions about the characters and the figurative language.

Topic(s): Historical Fiction. Skill(s): Summary, Character Traits, Figurative Language. Genre(s): Biography / Autobiography

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Mary rushed into her sister’s room. “Abigail! Abigail! Richard’s friend John Adams, our third cousin, wants to visit with you. He was at the outing we had last week and took a fancy to your intelligence.”

Abigail spun around with a big smile. “Oh, yes. He has a wonderful sense of humor. I’d love to see him again.”

The next day, the sisters cornered Mary’s fiancé, Richard.

“We need to make arrangements,” said Mary.

Abigail put her arm in Richard’s. “Yes, yes. Let’s go on an outing with your friend John.”

“Ha! I knew you liked John.” Richard took Mary’s arm and walked the sisters out into the garden. “Okay, we’ll make plans for a picnic on Sunday. I’ll see you ladies later. I have to go back to work.”

Abigail danced around the garden. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait for the picnic.”

Sunday morning the sisters scampered about getting things prepared for their picnic. Abigail cooked two roasted chickens, a meat pie, and rice.  Mary made a pumpkin pie and cookies.

“Richard,” said Mary, “please fill the pitchers with cider. We’re almost done, and John will be here soon. We’ll need to bring everything out into the garden.”

Abigail wiped her hands on her apron. “Yes, and I have to get dressed.” She rushed out of the kitchen to her room.

A short time later the two couples were in the garden. John sat beside Abigail and took her hand in his. “Young lady, be prepared. I intend to see you as often as I can.”

After their picnic, Abigail and John saw each other regularly. She was concerned, though, about her mother’s opinion of John.

“Mother,” said Abigail, “Father likes John. He thinks John will make a fine husband. Why don’t you like John?”

Mother took Abigail’s hand and led her into the large parlor. “Dear Abigail, I just want the best for you. I don’t see John amounting to much. He’s a simple country lawyer. I taught you to read and write, and you’ve read so many books. You have such intelligence. You should marry someone with more promise.”

Abigail’s face brightened. “Oh, is that all! You can rest assured that John will make a wonderful husband; one I can be proud of. Did you know that John taught at the Central School of Worcester before becoming a lawyer? And, he’s a powerful speaker.”

“Well, if this is what you want,” said Mother, “I’ll support you.”

Abigail kissed her mother’s cheek. “Wonderful, because we will be getting engaged to be married soon. I’m so glad we’ll have your blessings.”

Comprehension Questions

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