Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dr. Benjamin Rush.. He wrote one of the most amazing letters ever ...bringing together Adams & Jefferson..It was a gift of prophecy

Aug, 2006

This weekend I was at an historic fair. While I strolled around there was a table dedicated to Dr. Benjamin Rush. Who I very much admire.

Much of the information on this table was dealing with abstaining from alcohol and Rush's ideals on this topic and many others. But I saw little more than that.
After having a interesting conversation with a woman in 18th century dress. I asked her about information about his relationship with John Adams. It was interesting that she did not know too much about it. I found that fascinating as much of Rush's letters were in conversation with the 2nd President.

This lack of info on Rush brought me back to a piece I wrote here last year on the fact that Rush was the glue that brought Jefferson and Adams back together in 1812. Although Rush had been working on the sidelines since 1809, it was not till 1812 that his work saw fruit.
Here is the article I wrote last year and it is one of the ones that I enjoyed studying and writing most.
It is all about warmth, friendship, honor, and love. There have been few relationships in history where we can see one friend bringing two others together after a long separation...And like a true Greek tragedy,the catalyst who did this dies...

Here is the story

John Adams in his last painting done in 1825...1735-1826

Jefferson in 1809....1743-1826

Dr. Benjamin Rush 1745-1813

On a ungodly hot and sunny July 4th 2005....... I stood at the grave of Dr. Benjamin Rush... I wanted to be there and say thank you to a man who made such a difference in the world and in our lives.

He is known as the father of modern Phychology...But he was also the catalyst in bringing together Adams and Jefferson who had not spoken in near a decade....

He wrote a most unusual letter to John Adams on October 16, 1809. This letter was not only remarkable for what it suggests..but what it says of Adams and Jefferson at the end of their lives is most remarkable. The letter is long and I will use most of it.

The letter was the result of a dream Dr Rush had....

It starts like this.............

Philadelphia, October 16, 1809

"What book is that in your hands?" said I to my son Richard a few nights ago in a dream. "It is a history of the United States," said he. "Shall I read a page of it to you?" ..."No, no," said I. "I believe in the truth of no history but of that which is contained in the Old and New Testaments."..."But sir," said my son, "this page relates to your friend Mr. Adams." .."Let me see it then," said I. I read it with great pleasure and herewith send you a copy of it.


"Among the most extraordinary events of this year was the renewal of the friendship and intercourse between Mr. John Adams and Mr. Jefferson, the two ex Presidents of the United States.
They met for the first time in the Congress of 1775. Their Principles of liberty, their ardent attachment to their country, and their views of the importance and probable issue of the struggle with Great Britain in which they were engaged being exactly the same, they were strongly attracted to each other and became personal as well as political friends.

A difference of opinion upon the subject and issue of the French Revolution separated them during the years in which that great event interested and divided the American people.
The predominance of the party which favored the French cause threw Mr. Adams out of the chair of the United States in the year 1800 and placed Mr. Jefferson there in his stead.
The former retired with resignation and dignity to his seat at Quincy.
The latter resigned the chair of the United States in the year 1808, sick of the cares and disgusted with the intrigues of public life, and retired to his seat at Monticello.

In the month of November 1809 Mr Adams addressed a short letter to his friend Mr. Jefferson in which he congratulated him upon his escape to the shades of retirement and domestic happiness, and concluded it with assurances of his regard and good wishes for his welfare.
This letter did great honor to Mr. Adams. It discovered a magnanimity known only to great minds.
Mr. Jefferson replied to this letter and reciprocated expressions of regard and esteem.

These letters were followed by a correspondence of several years, in which they mutually reviewed the scenes of business in which they had been engaged, and candidly acknowledged to each other all the errors of opinion and conduct into which they had fallen during the time they filled the same station in the service of their country.
Many precious aphorisms, the result of observations, experience, and profound reflection, it is said, are contained in these letters.

It is to be hoped the world will be favored with a sight of them when they can neither injure nor displease any persons or families whose ancestors follies or crimes were mentioned in them.

These gentlemen sunk into the grave nearly at the same time, full of years and rich in the gratitude and praises of their country."

If anyone can be said to have had the gift of prophecy...It is Dr. Benjamin Rush.

There is only one thing he was wrong on...ONLY ONE THING!!!!! Their relationship was restored in 1812, not 1809. If I had not known that Benjamin Rush died in 1813, I would think he would have written the letter in 1826.

But he wrote it to his friend, John Adams who he loved as he did Thomas Jefferson.

Adams said of Jefferson " I love Jefferson, I always have loved Jefferson." That was all Jefferson needed to hear...

In 1812 John Adams wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson saying much of what Rush had said he would. Jefferson replied in kind.

By 1813 they had repaired the friendship, as soon as that had happened they both received the terrible news that their dear friend Rush was dead.

They wrote on everything, and shared, forgave, questioned, and gave the world a gift in their letters that are considered some of the greatest writings in the English language.

They did indeed fall into their graves at nearly the same time...Dying within hours of each other on July 4, 1826. Full of years and looked on with gratitude by a country who loved them.

When the years had passed the letters were seen by the public and are ever so treasured.

So as I stood at the grave of Benjamin Rush on that hot burning Sunday.. July 4, 2005.....I said thank you. Your gift and love of two great men gave a gift to man that can hardly be measured. On July 5, 2005 I received a copy of the book of all of the letters between Jefferson and Adams...It is one of my most prized items.

All there because a friend had a dream, and the dream was a gift to us all.

1 comment:

Stephen said...


This was a wonderfully written story. Thank you for taking time to share it.

I've always found it amazing to the point that I tear up when I think about how these two men shared so treacherous and resplendant a destiny, fell out of favor with each other, reconciled their friendship and then both died on the 50th anniversary of the country they devoted their lives to founding - the greatest "start-up" in the history of the world.

Until today, I was only vaguely aware of the role Dr. Benjamin Rush played in eradicating the contention between and rekindling the fire that burned mutually in the hearts of these titans -- a bit of history that makes the story even more magical.

On a planet filled simultaneously with much of both heaven and hell, these events seem proof that the heavenly aspects do indeed manifest from a higher force Who has the very greatest sense of drama, wit and honor.

Best regards, and thanks again!

- Stephen Bove, Mill Valley, CA

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