Independence Day invites reverence for our founders, as well as our freedoms. Somewhat under the radar is one poignant story concerning two of them: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They each signed the Declaration of Independence, were political friends turned political enemies, and both died the same year –on the same exact day, which happened to be July 4th.
Each man had fought assiduously for independence from Britain, guided the new and fledgling democracy, and served as President of the United States. The close alliance of their early careers suffered a severe break during Adams’ presidency over serious policy differences, and they remained at odds throughout the subsequent Jefferson presidency.
In retirement, Jefferson settled into his beloved Virginia home, Monticello, and devoted himself to his vast array of interests. The tensions thawed in his relationship with Adams, and the two men began a letter writing campaign that lasted for fifteen years.
Their correspondence touched on myriad topics: from recollections about their contributions to the young nation’s history, to views on current politics, to matters of the spirit and issues of aging. Humor and affection infuse these writings, despite their differing political and philosophical views.
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826, only hours before John Adams. As Adams slipped away (unaware of Jefferson’s passing only hours before) he uttered the words, “Thomas Jefferson survives.” The day of death for these two great men of history –marked the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
See Multimedia Content below for scenes from the HBO series on the life of John Adams:
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Did you know about the complicated relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams? Why do you think we never learned about this amazing story as kids in school?
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Filed under Culture | Comments: 0 | Posted on Thursday, July 4th, 2013