Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4th, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Adams was 90, and Jefferson, 82. Adams’ last words were, ‘Thomas Jefferson still survives.’ But he was mistaken. Jefferson had died five hours earlier at his beloved Monticello.
At the time of their deaths, Adams and Jefferson were the last two surviving members of the original American revolutionaries who stood up to Great Britain and forged a new government. Along the way, they disagreed as to how to best found this infant democracy, but both upheld beliefs in liberty and the truths laid forth in the Declaration of Independence. For a time, their heated disagreement led to animosity between them and they lost the deep connection they once had. Fortunately, they reestablished this close bond in the last 14 years of their lives through regular correspondence, and died as good friends.
(Image of the Constitution above)
Some timely quotes from these brilliant and vital Founding Fathers. Without them, America would not exist. If these men were here today, I suspect they would have plenty to say about the state of our great nation, both good and bad.
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.” – John Adams
(Old colonial cemetery in New England)
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” (Lawyers and politicians take note)
― Thomas Jefferson
“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
― Thomas Jefferson
“The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.”
― John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams
(Independence Hall in Philadelphia)
“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write .” ― John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States
“Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” ~Thomas Jefferson
(The Liberty Bell)
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” (Unarguably)
― John Adams, The Portable John Adams
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.” – John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams
“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.” ~John Adams
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” ― Thomas Jefferson
- “I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.” ~John Adams
“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” ~John Adams
(Horse drawn carriage in colonial Williamsburg)
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ~From The Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson
(The Declaration of Independence and the Betsy Ross Flag)
There are so many more nuggets of wisdom I could have included. And I know I’ve said this before, but if you haven’t seen the John Adams series, do!