Editor's Note: History buff Bill Maune commemorated Independance Day earlier today with his blog post
Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were asked to give speeches on July 4, 1826, (the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independance). Neither could make it because of ill health.
"On the evening of July 3, 1826, Thomas Jefferson fell into a deep coma. His last discernible words, uttered to the physician and family gathered around the bedside, indicated he was hoping to time his exit in dramatic fashion: "Is it the Fourth?" It was not, but he lingered in a semiconscious condition until shortly after noon on the magic day.
That same morning, Adams collapsed in his favorite reading chair. He lapsed into unconsciousness at almost the exact moment Jefferson died. The end came quickly, at about 5:30 that afternoon.
He awakened for a brief moment, indicating that nothing more should be done to prolong the inevitable, then, with obvious effort, gave a final salute to his old friend with his last words:
"Thomas Jefferson survives," or by another account, "Thomas Jefferson still lives." What ever the version he was wrong for the moment but right for all ages."
From the book, "Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis.