July 3, 2013

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE ODD COUPLE

John Adams & Thomas Jefferson (Craig Ceely, Solo HQ)
Jefferson, far more of a radical republican than Adams had ever been, could have been expected to introduce no innovations at all during his presidency. But it was Jefferson who, with no Constitutional authority at all, agreed to double the size of the United States by paying France fifteen million dollars for the Louisiana Territory. He was denounced for this by his own southern Republican allies in Congress - but he insisted that he had acted under the treaty-making authority of the presidency, and the purchase was ratified by the Senate. Jefferson's second term in office was marred by the treason trial of his vice-president, Aaron Burr, and by more war fever such as Adams had endured. When he left office in 1809, he was glad to return to Virginia.

By then, Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush, who'd known both Adams and Jefferson in the Continental Congress, had been trying to effect a rapprochement between the two former friends for about two years. He succeeded: Adams and Jefferson exchanged letters and began a correspondence which lasted for Years - Adams, the strong Federalist who yet insisted on civilian control of the military and avoided war when powerful interests in his own party demanded it; Jefferson, the strict republican who nevertheless, when he had the chance, stretched the Constitution to its limits as far as he could. Their letters touched on each man's respective writings, their careers, and on contemporary affairs. Both agreed that posterity would judge them by what they'd done in 1776. In February 1825 Adams wrote to Jefferson, "I wish your health may continue to the last much better than mine....The little strength of mind and the considerable strength of body I once possessed appear to be all gone, but while I breathe I shall be your friend."

John Adams died peacefully on July 4, 1826 - the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Declaration of Independence. His last words were, "Thomas Jefferson still survives." A few hours later, Thomas Jefferson was gone.

Who would not be happy to be judged by what these two did in 1776? [originally posted: 2003-07-04]
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Posted by at July 3, 2013 10:02 PM
  

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