July 4th is a day when Americans celebrate their independence, but it’s also a day to commemorate two men who played vital roles in procuring that independence. Both John Adams, the second President of the United States, and his successor Thomas Jefferson passed away on July 4, 1826. The two men had an interesting relationship that became increasingly complex as the nation they helped to found developed.
According to History.com, Adams and Jefferson were confidantes in the 1780s. But as time wore on, each man developed a different view of what the United States government should be, creating a rift in their relationship that was only widened by the 1800 presidential election. The men ran against each other in that election, which is still considered one of the more contentious elections in American history. Jefferson ultimately claimed victory, a result so unnerving to Adams that he left Washington, D.C. prior to Jefferson’s inauguration. The two men would ultimately reconcile, exchanging more than 150 letters before dying within hours of one another on Independence Day in 1826.