By Bill Federer, staff writer
They both served in the Continental Congress.
They both served as U.S. Ministers in France.
One was elected the 2nd President and the other was elected the 3rd.
Once political enemies, they became close friends in later life.
An awe swept America when they both died on the same day, JULY 4, 1826, exactly 50 years since they passed the Declaration of Independence.
Their names were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, was serving as the 6th President at the time. He told Congress, December 5, 1826:
“Since your last meeting at this place, the 50th anniversary of the day when our independence was declared…two of the principal actors in that solemn scene – the HAND that penned the ever-memorable Declaration and the VOICE that sustained it in debate -
were by one summons, at the distance of 700 miles from each other, called before the Judge of All to account for their deeds done upon earth.”
John Quincy Adams added in an Executive Order, July 11, 1826:
“A coincidence…so wonderful gives confidence…that the patriotic efforts of these…men were Heaven directed, and furnishes a new…hope that the prosperity of these States is under the special protection of a kind Providence.”
Jefferson described Adams as: “the pillar of (the Declaration’s) support on the floor of Congress, its ablest advocate and defender.”
Defending the Declaration, John Adams told the Continental Congress, July 1, 1776:
“Before God, I believe the hour has come…All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it…Live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration.
It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and Independence for ever!”
Two weeks earlier, John Adams stated, June 21, 1776: “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.
The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People…they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
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