Adams and Jefferson: an unlikely friendship in America's birth
July is a great month to revisit the birth of America and learn of the powerful and moving history that forged a nation.
In 1775 at the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia, New Englander John Adams met Virginian Thomas Jefferson. The two men, along with Benjamin Franklin, were tasked with creating The Declaration of Independence to formally separate from Great Britain. Jefferson would write the draft while Adams and Franklin would advise and edit.
During these defining days, Adams and Jefferson became friends. They talked and corresponded about their hopes for the fledgling nation, politics and about life. When Martha Jefferson died in 1782, Jefferson was often a guest in Adams' home. Both were appointed to overseas political posts, Jefferson in France and Adams in Great Britain, yet they remained in friendly contact.
Adams, a Federalist in favor of centralized government, and Jefferson, a democratic-Republican who preferred states' power, often disagreed. In 1796, Adams narrowly defeated Jefferson to be elected the second President of the United States. The following election, in 1800, Jefferson then defeated his incumbent friend. These years were difficult on their friendship and in 1812, when both men were retired politicos, a mutual friend encouraged them both to resume their past friendship.
In a friendship that spanned 50 years, two of our Founding Fathers shared their political thoughts, life musings and their hopes that their great work would endure through the centuries. They wrote 380 letters and on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they each died. Adams' last words were "Thomas Jefferson survives," not knowing that Jefferson had died hours earlier.
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