By Tyler Rust, MAT, NBCT HISTORYDOJO.BLOG 7/10/2018
The rivalry between these two Founding Fathers makes our political fighting today seem tame by comparison.
According to Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes, the death of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams was surprisingly interesting.
Of course they were both former vice presidents, with Adams serving as the second President of the US, and Jefferson succeeding him as the third.
While they were once allies in their fight against the British in the American Revolutionary War, they became bitter enemies later.
Going head to head in the infamous Election of 1800, their campaign was marked by extreme low brow attacks. These attacks make Trump’s behavior (Little Marco, the size of his hands, etc.) seem petty by comparison.
Jefferson had false claims published against Adam, saying “a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, not the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
Ahem, fake news?
For anyone who needs a translation, Thomas Jefferson had claims published in local papers saying the Adams was someone endowed with the genitalia of both a man and a woman!
Adams was not one to let such an insult go unanswered. He responded the Jefferson was “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”
Historians have speculated that this was Adams attempt to expose the nefarious affair (nee rape) Jefferson had with his slave, Sally Hemings.
Regardless of the vitriol of the lection, they made peace years later and reunited as friends.
Many may not know that these two Founding Fathers died on the same day.
They both died on July 4th, 1826, and just hours apart.
On the day of his passing, Adams was awakened by his servant, who asked if he knew what day it was.
He replied, “Oh yes, it is the glorious fourth of July. God bless it. God bless you all.”
He then slipped back into a coma.
In the afternoon he recovered consciousness an murmured only one short message:
“Thomas Jefferson yet lives!”
These were his final words.
Unknown to him, Jefferson had died earlier that day in Virginia at his home, Monticello.