November 8, 2013
Veterans Day draws near and two “warriors” for freedom come to mind: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Anti-federalist v. Federalist.
After Washington, Adams was our second president, followed by his rival Jefferson. They would continue their rivalry for many years, but in the twilight of their lives they reconciled. Their reconciliation spawned prolific correspondence between those giants-among-giants of American thinkers.
There was another giant, a man who could be considered the “glue” that bound them together: Dr. Benjamin Rush. Dr. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as were Adams and Jefferson. I’ll have more to say about Dr. Rush at a later time.
I suppose one would describe Adams and Jefferson in contemporary politics thus: John Adams – right-wing Republican, Thomas Jefferson – Libertarian-Republican. Their differences were a matter of degrees – my opinion.
For now, I wish to honor Presidents Jefferson and Adams. Though, in many respects, two leaders seemingly pulling in opposite directions, they were throughout the time of their rivalry settling and moderating our national destiny. Their rivalry gave a healthy tension to the framework of our new republic.
Presidents Jefferson and Adams, despite claims of “deism” against the former, were both believers in Jesus Christ. As was Dr. Rush who was a Presbyterian baptized as an Episcopalian, their faith manifested brilliantly in death as it did in life.
There was a “lesson plan” written 187 years ago, a lesson on the importance of unity of purpose. While we have no influence on left-leaning politicians like John McCain, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham, we can work with most Republicans and Libertarians. As Benjamin Franklin aptly stated at the signing of the Declaration of Independence:
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Thomas Jefferson, 82, and John Adams. 90, died within five hours of one another on July 4th, 1826. Call it coincidence, if you wish, but I hasten to tell you there is no Biblical word for ‘coincidence’. I believe taking the two to Heaven the same day was God’s way of affirming his final judgement: “Well done, ye good and faithful servants.”
At the end of your life, what will God say of you?