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Friday, July 1, 2011
July 4th from Footnote.com, a great resource
The United States lost two founding fathers and former presidents on July 4, 1826. Thomas Jefferson, age 83, died at his Monticello home. John Adams, age 90, died a few hours later in Quincy, Massachusetts. His last words were reportedly, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” as he had not yet heard of Jefferson’s death.
In this age of instant access, it’s hard to fathom how slowly word traveled before the telegraph, telephone, and internet. It wasn’t until over a month later, on August 14, 1826, that the news was picked up by The Times in London. The paper published extracts from newspapers which arrived in Liverpool via the ship Canada. One account, reprinted in The Times, tells of “regrets that cannot but mingle with our joy in such a singular dispensation of Providence, as the departure of Jefferson and Adams on the same day, and that day the first jubilee of our independence.”
The Times also ran a piece commemorating Adams and Jefferson the following day from a New York paper dated July 13, 1826.
As noted in the published account above, not only was the coincidence of two of our most important founding fathers dying on the same day remarkable, but the date was also the 50th anniversary of our nation’s most patriotic occasion, the signing of the Declaration of Independence.