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Were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Always Friends?

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson will forever be known as the Founding Fathers of the United States. But did you know that these two powerful men are actually friends?

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson started out as great friends. They both passed away on the same day, July 4, 1826, precisely fifty years after the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, because of politics, their friendship turned sour. 

Who was John Adams?

John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Braintree, Massachusetts. He was the son of John Adams Sr., a farmer, town councilman, and congregationalist deacon, and Susan Boylston Adams, a member of one prominent colonial families then.

Adams attended Harvard University through a scholarship he obtained when he was 16. He then studied law in the office of James Putnam in 1755 despite his father’s wish for him to join the ministry. Adams earned his master’s degree from Harvard and was admitted to the bar in 1758.

Adams soon started his political career, beginning when he opposed the Stamp Act of 1765. In 1770, he represented the eight British soldiers on trial in the Boston massacre. His representation earned him the reputation of being a courageous, generous, and fair man.

He was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly and represented the colony in the First Continental Congress in 1774. In 1776, Adams proposed that the colonies adopted their independent governments and was approved by Congress. In the same year, he was appointed by Congress and the Founding Fathers to draft the declaration of independence.

Adams was a very active congressman. He was also part of the American diplomats sent to the Treaty of Paris in 1779. He was the first US minister to England in 1785. Adams became vice president of America in 1789 and again in 1792. And in 1796, Adams won the election and became the second president of the US, winning just by a small margin against Thomas Jefferson.

Adams had six children with his wife, Abigail Smith. His son, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth president of the US. Adams passed away on July 4, 1826, hours after his long time friend Thomas Jefferson. (Source: Biography)

Friendship with Thomas Jefferson

Adams and Jefferson first met at the Continental Congress, supporting the revolution against England. Their friendship continued when they were elected to draft the declaration of independence and deepened when they were both sent to Europe as diplomats. (Source: History Hit)

When Jefferson’s wife passed in 1782, he often visited the Adams’ household. In one account, Abigail Adams, John Adams’ wife, noted that Jefferson was the only person my companion could associate with perfect freedom and reserve, speaking of Adams’ and Jefferson’s friendship.

Their friendship deteriorated upon their return to America from Europe. Adams and Jefferson had different political views as Adams was a Federalist and Jefferson were a Democrat. Their relationship further deteriorated when Adams won the presidential seat in 1796.

Jefferson made sure to pressure President Adams with his democratic-republicans over the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1799. When Jefferson won the election in 1800, Adams made sure he appointed many of Jefferson’s political opponents to the high office before he stepped down from the presidency.

In 1812, one of the Founding Fathers, Dr. Benjamin Rush, devised a way to rekindle Adams’ and Jefferson’s friendship. The two had not spoken for twelve years, and Rush wanted to reunite the two. Rush wrote to Adams and Jefferson, telling them that he dreamt they revitalized their friendship through letter-writing.

The two soon began writing to each other, rekindling their friendship. It was reported that they wrote over 380 letters to each other. (Source: CNN)

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