The close friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams started when they worked together on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, and in 1784. Jefferson was the runner-up in the presidential election of 1796, he became Adams’s vice president. They turned political rivals, when Adams ran for a second term in 1800 and two major political parties had emerged: the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Jefferson became president.

They wrote numerous letters to each other for more than a dozen years after both had left the presidency. Jefferson’s estate in Monticello notes,

After fifteen years of resumed friendship, on July 4, 1826, Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other. Their deaths occurred—perhaps appropriately—on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Unaware that his friend had died hours earlier, Adams’s family later recalled that his last spoken words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

The written words of Jefferson and Adams, however, survive to this day, preserving the rich legacy of their friendship, thoughts, and ideas.

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