Birthdays & Friendships

Yesterday was Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Mine was the day before. I’ve been missing my friends in other places and from years gone by.

This must be why I was so compelled by the friendship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adams ran interference for Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. Campaigns and politics took their toll on their relationship. But in later days, they resumed writing to each other. I read excerpts and paraphrases in David McCullough’s John Adams (available here). I recommend the HBO miniseries based on this biography (here).

I cried. While Adams seemed desperate to reconcile their unresolved conflicts, Jefferson refused to revisit them. But the Revolution and their part in it remained central to their discussion, even as old and dying men. So much so that both focussed on living until the 50th Anniversary of US Independence. They died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826. An amazing story of friendship and leadership.

They leave me wondering: what could result from friendships of my own.

2 thoughts on “Birthdays & Friendships”

  1. Like you, I’ve always been interested in Jefferson and Adams. One of the highlights of this interest, was a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of American History a few years back when I was privileged to see the original copy of the Jefferson Bible. Over the years of their friendship, Adams kept prodding Jefferson to complete this project and finally he did. Speaking of friendships, my life has been enriched by having you as a friend, Jamie, and perhaps some day we will have the chance to chat in person again.

  2. Thank you so very much, Erik. I feel very much the same way. And I hope I get the chance to see Jefferson’s Bible myself one day. It was such an amazing project before its time.

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