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Adams 4 renamed Mount Abigail Adams

This public domain portrait of Abigail Adams is taken from Wikimedia Commons. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2010
COOS COUNTY — It's official. The Board of Geographic Names has changed the name of Adams 4 on the Presidential Range to Mount Abigail Adams.

The board responded favorably to a petition drive initiated by Bethany Taylor, a New Hampshire native who formerly was a journalist at the "Berlin Reporter" and is now working as a cook for the Appalachian Mountain Club on its Madison Spring Hut rebuilding project.

Ms. Taylor successfully argued that it is only "fair, equitable and long overdue to afford Abigail Adams the same honor as other patriots and Presidents honored in the Presidential Range in the White Mountains."

A number of former and current AMC and Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) employees, signed the petition, believing that the time had come to add a woman's name to the roster of those memorialized on the high peaks.

The Coös County board of commissioners voted to support the petition.

Barbara Cutter, Ph.D., an associate professor of history t the University of Iowa at Cedar Falls, pointed out that renaming Adams 4 for Abigail Adams is the right thing to do because "she is an important historical figure in her own right, and she is a central member of the historically important Adams family of New England.

"Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of the second president of the United States, John Adams, and the mother of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams. Adams was well known and well respected during her lifetime and became a more prominent historical figure after the first publication of many of her letters in 1840. That collection proved to be so popular that three more editions were released by 1848. Her letters have been in print ever since.

"She is perhaps most famous for her March 31, 1776, letter to John Adams, who was then serving in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. She asked him to carefully consider the political position of women in the future United States. As she put it:

'In the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.'"

The 28th edition of the AMC "White Mountain Guide" states that as "soon as the RMC Lowe's Path breaks out of the scrub… and is above treeline" it is "completely exposed to the wind" and boasts "views that are very fine.

"At 4.1 miles from Lowe's Store on Route 2, after the steady ascent up Nowell Ridge, the trail reaches the crag known as Adams 4 (5,355 feet), descends into a little sag, then rises moderately again, keeping to the east of Mt. Sam Adams."

John Mudge in his guide, "The White Mountains: Names, Places, & Legends," noted that three peaks of Mt. Adams can be seen from Randolph: Mt. Adams, named for John Adams,; to the east, Mt. John Quincy Adams; and to the west of Mt. Adams, the lesser peak of Mt. Sam Adams, named after Samuel Adams, John's cousin and a fiery leader in the early days of the American Revolution.

Steve Smith of The Mountain Wanderer Map & Book Store in Lincoln believes that the now-replaced name of Adams 4 very likely came from the AMC's no-longer-used numerical nomenclature system.

Before the AMC devised its numbering system, an early pathmaker's name and that of his two children were associated with the rocky crag. RMC historian Judy Hudson in her new book, "Peaks & Paths: A Century of the Randolph Mountain Club," points out that William Gray Nowell "was identified with the ridge traversed by the Lowe's Path…. In the early days hikers had called the crag 'Nowell's Peak,' and the two little summits on it were dubbed 'Gracie' and 'Fred' after his daughter and son. W. G. Nowell (pronounced Now-ell), together with Charles E. Lowe, blazed and cut the first path from Randolph valley to the summit of Mt. Adams in 1876."

Martin Lord Osman
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