Lead: On the morning of July the Fourth the citizens of both Quincy, Massachusetts and Charlottesville, Virginia awoke to begin their celebration of the nations birth. Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts. Content: In 1826 the United States was enjoying an exuberant adolescence: Its borders stretched ever westward, its goods were finding worldwide markets, its ambitions were ravenous, its future appeared seamless -- without limit to prosperity and peace. High on his small mountain in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, the Master of Montecello lay asleep. Throughout the spring Thomas Jefferson, had become increasingly feeble. By mid-June the daily horseback rides were over and on July the 2nd he began the sleep that would be his last. Sometime in the day, Jefferson stirred up to inquire, "Is this the fourth?" Hearing a yes, he lay back. This gentle and yet false reply surely brought the nation's third chief executive some measure of comfort. Occasionally, his hand could be seen moving, as if he were writing, thus mimicking unconsciously the motions of a lifetime. In Massachusetts, John Adams' health had also declined during the late winter and spring. On sunny days he was able to take short carriage rides but even they had to stop by June. On the morning of the fourth, his attendant asked him, "Do you know, sir, what day it is?" His reply. "Oh yes, it is the glorious 4th of July. God bless it, God bless you all." Sometime that afternoon he roused again and someone heard the second President of the Republic say, his last intelligible words, "Thomas Jefferson survives." The moment he said this was, of course, was among Jefferson's last and by sunset the two men, so honored by their fellow citizens, so important in the birth of freedom, and, in the end, so close as friends, were dead. It was July 4, 1826. Fifty years to the day since together they signed the Declaration of Independence. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts. Copyright 1995 by Educational Broadcast, Inc. Resources
Adams, John. The Adams Papers, Series I: Diary and Autobiography. Edited by L.H. Butterfield. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1961.
Allison. John M. Adams and Jefferson: The Story of a Friendship. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966.
Brodie, Fawn M. Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1974.
Jefferson, Thomas. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Edited by Julian P. Boyd. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950.