Perhaps you’ve heard the tale: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4th. It was also on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1826. But did you know that James Monroe also died on July 4th and Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4th?
The Adams and Jefferson story is really quite a tale. They were collaborators on writing a great majority of the Declaration, with Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson was actually JA’s vice president after Washington retired, but they disagreed strongly on many things and became bitter rivals.
In the history that I was taught, Jefferson is held up as some amazing character, while Adams was portrayed as an abject failure as president. Now that we see them both in the lens of over 200 years, the real strengths and weakness of both men are a bit clearer.
The good news is that these men were able to bury the hatchet and become friends again later in life. Supposedly, JA’s last words were: “Thomas Jefferson survives.” He was wrong. Jefferson passed away just a few hours before Adams — on July 4, a few years back.