As we reminisce on this year’s Independence Day celebrations, let’s take time to remember another significant historical happening on July the 4th.
An awe swept the country when two towering historical figures and American framers died on the same day – July 4, in 1826 – exactly 50 years since both signed the Declaration of Independence.
They both served in the Continental Congress. One was elected the second President and the other was elected the third. Once political enemies, they became close friends in later life. Their names were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
In his Second Annual Message to Congress, December 5, 1826, President John Quincy Adams referred to Jefferson and Adams (his father), stating: “Since your last meeting at his place, the fiftieth anniversary of the day when our independence was declared…two of the principal actors in that solemn scene – the hand that penned the every-memorable Declaration and the voice that sustained it in the 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.”
President 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.”
The past two days on this program, we have heard about the Declaration and Jefferson’s bold language in recognizing the rights of men and declaring our independence from Great Britain.
Let us now consider the words of John Adams upon the passage of our Declaration. And let us be encourage by his hopeful vision for the future of our nation. This day, he said “ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration… Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory… Posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even though we may regret it, which I trust in God we shall not.”