Some historical events are so symbolic that they can only be ascribed to fate. The date we celebrate American independence is the same date that has seen the death of some of our nation’s most esteemed Commanders-in-Chief.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were ideological opposites and election rivals, but the two Founding Fathers reconciled late in life — which made their nearly simultaneous deaths on July 4, 1826 all the more meaningful. On the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson uttered his last words, “Is it the fourth yet?” before passing away. Later that same day, Adams also died, but not before saying, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” unaware his dear friend had already passed on. Adams and Jefferson were the only two signers of the Declaration to later become President. Five years later, on July 4, 1831, James Monroe, the last presidential Founding Father, died as well.
It’s not all bad news for our Commanders in Chief, however: Calvin Coolidge, the nation’s 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872.