'Wonderfully Spared'

'Wonderfully Spared' - Our Founders were talented men--and lucky ones too


"You and I have been wonderfully spared," Thomas Jefferson wrote John Adams in 1812. "Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence I see now living not more than half a dozen on your side of the Potomak, and, on this side, myself alone." Jefferson and Adams were not merely signers of the Declaration. Both sat on the committee that drafted the document, and Jefferson wrote it. And while they later became bitter political opponents, they reconciled in their last years.

Adams, the Yankee lawyer, revolutionary, Founding Father and ex-president, was 77 in 1812; Jefferson, the Southern aristocrat, revolutionary, Founder and ex-president, was 69. Both were mentally acute but frail. Jefferson spent three to four hours a day on horseback and could scarcely walk, Adams walked three to four miles a day and could scarcely ride.

They would never see each other again. But from a modest farm in Quincy, Mass., and a plantation in Virginia they corresponded and reminisced about the days when they were "fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government."


In 1825 Jefferson wrote to congratulate Adams on the election of his son John Quincy to the presidency--an election so close it was decided in the House of Representatives. "So deeply are the principles of order, and of obedience to law impressed on the minds of our citizens generally that I am persuaded there will be as immediate an acquiescence in the will of the majority," Jefferson assured him, "as if Mr. Adams had been the choice of every man." He closed: "Nights of rest to you and days of tranquility are the wishes I tender you with my affect[iona]te respects."

On July 4 the following year, as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, its two frail signers died within hours of each other. Their cause, "struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government," continues in the nation they launched, still fraught with aspirations and anxieties, flaws and divisions but, one hopes, with the ability to reconcile as they did, to work together for the joint venture.

Comment: I deeply appreciate our great country and the freedoms we enjoy! A Christian has a dual citizenship! One of my first preaching opportunities was on the 4th of July in 1972 at our Church's (Westwood Baptist, Cheviot Ohio) picnic. I preached on John 8:32, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." That night back at our house, Roger and I shot off bottle rockets! I celebrated that day, my freedom as a citizen of the United States, and my freedom in Christ! It's interesting that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th (1826)!

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