Sunday, June 30, 2013
By the end of June in the year 1826, there were two very old men on the verge of death. One was named John Adams and the other Thomas Jefferson.
Adams was always the more healthy and robust of the two. Though even now as Adams was nearly 91 years of age he was aware of all around him. He was read to as was his pleasure. He met some old friends and young folks who were wishing to touch a piece of history. He lived in a calm loving atmosphere, surrounded by his family save for his son John Quincy, who was President of the United States.
In contrast, there was Jefferson. He had for the last year suffered from many internal problems and much arthritis. His keen mind was not as clear as it had been, and his household or what was left of it was in great need of repair. The truth was that Jefferson was broke, he had been for many years and now as his life started to fade into the darkness. He was truly at an end. A lottery had been organized to try to help Jefferson out of his dreadful financial distress. But that stress at 83 was as deadly for him as the rest of his infirmities. His slaves were there to look after him. His mistress who he owned, Sally Hemmings was there. One would wonder if because of love, or because he owned her. The children produced by them were still slaves at this moment. They would be freed at his death.
As these men faced the last few days of life, what thoughts were going through their minds. I am sure Jefferson was thinking of his greatest moment when he took John Adams advice and wrote the first draft declaration. It was a continuation of the declaration written the year before by Adams in 1775.
I am sure each thought of Franklin, seeing him in their own view of his actions. Remembering Washington fondly, or not too fondly as Jefferson was not a great fan of him. Adams I gather thought of Washington, and perhaps had one last jealous urge to set the record straight. Feeling that Jefferson's writings on the revolution would be followed more than his own of which he felt he had been more honest.
Perhaps Jefferson finally had remorse in what he had done to many people. His actions and his back stabbing was remembered by many and perhaps now as he lay in his bed and breathed with some difficulty he thought of Aaron Burr and what he had done to him, or perhaps to his old friend John Adams.
Each was invited to Washington DC, or Washington City as it was then called, but it was an impossibility for either to venture far from their chair or bed.
Each man knew in late June that the glorious 4th of July would be the 50th anniversary of the great Declaration. Although as each man knew it was actually declared and voted on July 2nd. But even the stubborn Adams had finally given up on the 2nd and now was waiting and striving to live to see the glorious day.
Adams went about his life as usual, although weak, he showed no signs of dying in these last few days of June. But for Jefferson he was already on the way, It was not really certain he would make it.
By July 3rd Jefferson was in his deathbed and delirious, he asked his slaves several times if it was the 4th..
Adams spent much of the day in his beloved library, surrounded by his books and his imagination that went soaring past the Milky Way as he liked to put it.
The 4th came, and the sun rose on to Jefferson and Adams at the same time. It was their day, it was to be for both their last day of life.
Jefferson was in and out of consciousness and did learn it was the 4th and he allowed himself to die. Adams started his day like all the others he had in these last years. A little breakfast and he was carried up to his library where he would spend his day. One can only imagine what went though his mind in the last morning. But I am sure he took more than one trip beyond the Milky Way.
In the early afternoon he was taken ill in the chair in which he was sitting by the window of his library...If death was to find him ....It was there.
On July 4, 1826, the two major writers of the declaration of independence died .. It was it's 50th anniversary.
An Amazing moment of history.