Jacob Abbott was born on November 14, 1803, in Hallowell, Maine. He was the second child of Jacob Abbot II, a merchant and local leader, who had married his second cousin, Betsey Chandler. The Abbots were devout Puritans and loving parents. All five of the Abbot boys attended Hallowell Academy and then Bowdoin College. While he was at Bowdoin, Jacob decided to add a second “t” to his last name so as to distinguish him from other Abbots. His younger brothers followed suit, but one of them, Gorham, later changed back to the original spelling.