He knows of what he speaks...
As the Fourth of July, 1826, drew near, festivities marking fifty years of freedom were planned the length and breadth of the U.S.A. The three living Signers were invited to be present at a significant gathering in Washington, D.C. But old John Adams, now almost ninety-one, was too feeble even to participate in the celebration at Quincy. At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson, eight years younger, lay on his deathbed.
In a dramatic climax that even their agile minds would not have contemplated, these two principals in the struggle for Independence left the nation awestricken and touched by dying hours apart on the Fourth of July. Jefferson died at one o’clock in the afternoon, Adams toward evening. Jefferson had written his last letter on June 24, addressed to the mayor of Washington, who had issued the invitation:
“I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met…with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow-citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made…All eyes are opened to the right of man…let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollection of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”