There are many amazing stories about the Founders. One of the most amazing is the story of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the 4th of July. We all know about July 4, 1776. But do you know about July 4, 1826?
In their later years, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had settled old political differences and become great friends, keeping up an ongoing correspondence for many decades. They both lived to ripe old ages.
Incredibly, Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson both died on the same day, within hours of each other in fact. On his death bed, John Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives…” Unbeknownst to Adams, Jefferson had actually died a few hours earlier at Monticello. Jefferson’s last words were, “is it the Fourth?”
Yes, as a matter of fact, it was the fourth. It was the 4th of July, 1826― Adams and Jefferson both died on the 4th of July, 50 years to the day from the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Think about that.
A few days before, the 83-year old Jefferson had written the following words in response to an invitation he received to an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration. He replied that he was too frail to make the event, but sent this blessing regarding the Declaration of Independence and the significance of the July fourth anniversary:
May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them…