Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on Independence Day 1826

Cropped from John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence paintingExactly fifty years after the United States of America declared itself a free and independent nation the two surviving senior statesmen of the American Revolution,  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, passed away within five hours of each other On July 4, 1826.

Political rivals and lifelong friends

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1775.  Over the years they would share the common goal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Like many politicians, over their careers they would become rivals over extreme political differences, but after leaving the political spotlight would become close friends.

According to the account of the relationship between Adams and Jefferson by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the two men did not speak to each other during the time that Jefferson was president.  Adams was president from March 4, 1797 until March 4, 1801. Jefferson succceded Adams in 1801, and served as president until March 4, 1809. Jefferson was upet over some last-minute political appointments made by Adams just before Jefferson succeeded him as president.

A few years after Jefferson retired from the presidency a mutual friend and fellow former member of the Continental Congress, Dr. Benjamin Rush, worked to bring Jefferson and Adams back together as friends.

The 50th Anniversary of Independence

Former American Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, fellow Patriots, political adversaries, and lifelong friends, died on the 50th Anniversary of Independence.  On July 4, 1826, John Adams lay on his deathbed and uttered his last words, "Thomas Jefferson still survives."   Adams died at his home in Quincy, Massachusetts not knowing that Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello, Virgina.

The graphic is a section cropped from John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence painting. Thomas Jefferson is shown placing the document before John Hancock, president of the Congress, with the other members of the committee that created the draft, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin.