“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” John Adams, 2nd President of the United States
“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the best of friends, even though their ideas and political viewpoints were not in sync. From their first meeting at the 1775 Continental Congress in Philadelphia, they formed a strong affinity, respect and liking for each other. In 1776, they worked together on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. Eight years later, they were both in France on diplomatic service. Throughout their long friendship they continued a lively dialogue through letters. They had a falling out during the transition of presidency in 1801, when John Adams made some last-minute political appointments that displeased Thomas Jefferson. The letters stopped for a time and then resumed in 1811 after a welcomed reconciliation.
John Adam’s last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” unaware that his dear friend had died only a few hours before. They were friends until the last, both dying on July 4th, 1826, on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
This is the letter, dated November 13, 1818, from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, upon hearing of the death of Abigail Adams:
MONTICELLO, November 13, 1818.
The public papers, my dear friend, announce the fatal event of which your letter of October the 20th had given me ominous foreboding. Tried myself in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medicine. I will not, therefore, by useless condolences, open afresh the sluices of your grief, nor, although mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word more where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both, that the term is not very distant, at which we are to deposit in the same cerement, our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again. God bless you and support you under your heavy affliction.