July 4, 1826 — Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died today on the 50th anniversary of signing the Declaration of Independence.
Their views on government diverged over the years when they ran against each other in the presidential elections of 1796 and 1800. Adams won the election of 1796 on the platform of building a strong government; Jefferson won the election of 1800, favoring a more limited government.
The political powerhouses rekindled their friendship in the winter of 1812 and remained friends until today when Adams, 90, lay on his deathbed while the country celebrated Independence Day. His last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” Unbeknownst to him, Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello at the age of 83.
Then, five years later — on July 4, 1831 — the nation’s fifth president, James Monroe, died at his son-in-law’s home in New York City. Monroe, 73, had been ill for some time.