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Located on a stone outcropping on Penn’s Hill nearby the Adams birthplaces, the Cairn commemorates the evening of June 17, 1775 when Abigail Adams and her young son John Quincy climbed the hill to watch the bombardment and burning of Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill. The marker was dedicated by the Society of the Daughters of the Revolution on June 17, 1896.

Abigail Adams Cairn

The cairn is located atop Quincy’s Penn’s Hill, at the corner of the Viden Road and Franklin Street, and up the hill from the Adams Presidential Birthplaces (Adams National Historical Park) in Quincy MA

Here Abigail Adams and seven-year-old John Quincy Adams watched the burning of Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775. At the time, Abigail wrote; “the decisive Day is come on which the fate of America depends”. Though the battle took place 13 miles away, Abigail stated that “the constant roar of the cannon is so distressing we cannot Eat, Drink or Sleep.” At age 78, John Quincy retained a vivid memory: “I saw with my own eyes those fires, and heard Britannia’s thunders in the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, and witnessed the tears of my mother and mingled with them my own, at the fall of Warren a dear friend of my father, and a beloved Physician to me.”

Abigail Adams provided advice to her husband that spanned decades. He most famous letter, written to Adams as the First Continental Congress met in 1776, included the now famous admonition "remember the ladies.” The future first lady made the meaning of her message clear while framing it into rhetoric that reflected the colonist's opposition to kings and unchecked power. "Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands, " Adams wrote, "Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.”

A plaque on the cairn reads: "From this spot, with her son, John Quincy Adams, then a boy of seven by her side, Abigail Adams watched the smoke of burning Charlestown, while listening to the guns of Bunker Hill. Saturday, 17 June, 1775." In 2008, a 112 years old time capsule was found inside the Quincy's Abigail Adams Cairn.