On the 4th of July , 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed and adopted by the Continental Congress. Famous among the signees were John Hancock, whose signature was the largest; Benjamin Franklin, 70 years old at that time; and two future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
Thomas Jefferson became a scientist, an astronomer, a musician, a philosopher and a president in his life-time. But symbolically, his most lasting act was that of a speech writer. He drafted the Declaration of Independence based on the ideas of English philosopher John Locke, and Thomas Paine’s pamphlet ‘Common Sense’.
The two future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were close friends in youth, and passionate rivals as they grew older and their opinions diverged. They reconciled in late life and maintained a famous correspondence.
Adams and Jefferson passed away on the same day, the 4th of July, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Adam’s last words were “Jefferson lives.” Little did he know Jefferson had preceded him to death’s door by a mere few hours.