Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4, 1826: A Coincidence?

There are curious events in history that sometimes cause me to wonder about life and specifically human nature. One of these events took place on the 4th day of July, 1826.

On July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the gathered Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, signed a document regarding their sovereign, George III, King of Great Britain. Although we general remember or aware of phrases for this document, such as
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...
the majority of the document is an indictment against King George for his establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

The document signed on the 4th of July, 1776—the reason we in the United States are today celebrating the occasion as a holiday—came to be known as The Declaration of Independence. It did not come into being on July 4th; it was voted on and adopted by the representatives of the various states—colonies—on July 4th.

The document itself was the work of a committee made up of Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut , and Robert R. Livingston. The committee asked Jefferson to create "a Rough draught," which he did between June 12th and 27th. This draft was read to the Congress on June 28th. From July 1st to 4th the representatives debated and revised Jefferson’s draft. On July 4th the Congress adopted the final version of the Declaration of Independence, which, in effect, severed the ties between Great Britain and thirteen of its North American colonies.

Jump fifty years to the two curious events of the 4th day of July, 1826. On that day, the Fiftieth Anniversary of Congress adopting the Declaration of Independence, two of the committee appointed to draft the document, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams—the only two members of the committee to be elected Presidents of the future United States of America—died. I find this curious but not unusual: in my career as a pastor I have known people who set for themselves their day or time of death, people who held onto life to reach a special birthday or until a loved one arrived at their bedside.

Although possibly not valid, there is a report that the final words of John Adams were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives." If Adams did say this, he was mistaken: Jefferson had died five hours before Adams.

Good Links to Websites related to The Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence

Charters of Freedom: Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence: What Happened to Them

Declaration of Independence

Biographies of the Founding Fathers

Quotations from signers of the Declaration of Independence


  1. Thanks for the links Nick . . . Happy 4th of July!

  2. We're looking back on it knowing how the story ends. At the time, the drafters and signers had every reason to believe they would be hanged. I wonder how many people today would have their courage?

  3. Both died 50 years to the day after they signed the D. of I.? That's really interesting.

  4. I question the nature of human beings all the time...


  5. I seem to remember that there was another president who died on July 4?

    Hope you had a great holiday--al 4 of them.

  6. Really good stuff here. Thanks! Hope you had a wonderful 4th!