July 4 1826, USA.
On the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence, the two key figures of the declaration lie on their deathbeds.
John Adams, the second President of the United States and Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the declaration. Although their friendship soured to the point they were bitter rivals, they rekindled their friendship in 1812 and their letters survive as an important collection in American history.
Jefferson had been ill for around a year and during the last hours of Jefferson’s life he was accompanied by family members and friends. He calmly gave directions for his funeral, forbidding any sort of celebration or parade. Moments later Jefferson called the rest of his family and friends around his bedside and with a distinct tone he uttered:
After falling back to sleep Jefferson later awoke at eight o’clock that evening and spoke his last words, “Is it the fourth yet?“. His doctor replied, ”It soon will be“. On July 4 at ten minutes before one o’clock Jefferson died at the age of 83
Adams died at his home in Quincy. Told that it was the Fourth, he answered clearly, “It is a great day. It is a good day.” His last words have been reported as “Thomas Jefferson survives” although he died earlier in the day.
John Adams (October 30 1735 – July 4, 1826)
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826)