On the day of our nation's birth the majority of Americans celebrated our nation's independence for the 246th time while others protested or created mass chaos. As scripture (Mark 3:25) states "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Abraham Lincoln applied this to our nation when he said "A nation divided against itself cannot stand."
Unfortunately there will always room for scandal and controversy in news headlines.
In spite of mankind's flaws and divisiveness new life is still heralded into the world by God.
Between inflation, gas prices, abortion, and the war in Ukraine, there is indeed never a dull moment thus far in 2022.
Chaos will always find a way take a headline.
There is a wonderful story about the remarkable occurrence that happened on July 4, 1826 that everyone should know. On that day, two men were both lying on their death beds. One was 90 year old John Adams in Quincy, Massachusetts and the other was 83 year old Thomas Jefferson in Monticello, Virginia.
Adams and Jefferson first met in 1775 as delegates to the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. They had similar views and quickly became friends. When Congress ordered a committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, both men were in on it. Adams felt Jefferson should do it and told Jefferson:"You should do it. Reason first, you are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you can write ten times better than I can."
During George Washington's two terms, Adams served as Vice President with Jefferson as Secretary of State. After Washington left office in 1796, the two friends reached a parting of their ways. Adams joined the Federalist Party and Jefferson the Democratic Republicans and the philosophical differences between the two parties and between themselves were too difficult to overcome. Politics were no less vicious in their time than they are in ours....in fact, probably more so.
Adams defeated Jefferson for the presidency in 1796, but the laws at the time stipulated that the loser became Vice President. This created an awkward situation and as the Adams' presidency wore on, the two began to disagree more and more. The 1800 election was bitter and complicated. When Jefferson emerged the victor, Adams was resentful and bitter did not attend Jefferson's inauguration. It looked like the friendship between America's two greatest statesmen had ended. They exchanged no correspondence for the next ten years.
After the urging of a mutual friend, Adams finally wrote a letter to Jefferson on New Year's Day 1812. Jefferson wrote back a few weeks later: "A letter from you calls up recollections very dear to my mind. It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government."- Thomas Jefferson
The two exchanged several letters that year and in 1813, they wrote even more with Adams writing a total of 29 letters. Their correspondence continued for the rest of their lives, with each man penning thoughtful, detailed letters that touched on everything from politics and philosophy to religion and morality.
While their words were occasionally pointed, the body of letters they left was an amazing example of the kind of high level dialogue that two people can produce when they emphasize respect and admiration for each other.
Jefferson wrote:"I have thus stated my opinion on a point which we differ, not with a view to controversy, for we are both too old to change opinions which are the result of a long life of inquiry and reflection; but on the suggestion of a former letter of yours, that we ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other. We acted in perfect harmony throughout a long and perilous contest for our liberty and independence. A constitution has been acquired which, though neither of us think perfect, yet both consider as competent to render our fellow citizens the happiest and securest on whom the sun has ever shone. If we do not think exactly alike as to its imperfections, it matters little to our country which, after devoting to it long lives of disinterested labor, we have delivered over to our successors in life, who will be able to take care of it, and of themselves." - Thomas Jefferson
On July 3, 1826, both men were old and dying. They had written over 380 letters but there would be no more. Each wanted nothing more than to live one more day, to see and celebrate the 4th of July one more time. On the night of the 3rd, Jefferson called his family in for the final time and said "I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do. And now I resign my soul, without fear, to my God."
He fell asleep shortly thereafter, but woke once more before the night had ended.
"Is it the Fourth yet?" Jefferson asked "It soon will be" his doctor assured him.
Shortly before one o'clock in the morning of July 4th, Thomas Jefferson died.
John Adams lasted a little longer. When told it was the Fourth of July, he said, "It is a great day. It is a good day." Not long after, he too passed away, unaware that his friend and rival preceded him. According to his family, his last words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives."
That these two great founders, signers, presidents and friends died within hours of each other is notable enough. The fact that they died on the Fourth of July is more amazing. But the most astounding thing of all? It was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
This post-Independence Day I encourage all of us to remember the story of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Remember the ideals they stood for. Remember the friendship they had. Remember the connection they shared; fellow laborers in the same cause, each working in the way they thought best. May we remember and cherish that we are all Americans, continually defending a constitution that enables us all to be the "happiest and securest people on whom the sun has ever shown".