Lunch-Break Miracles
By Diana Aydin

John Adams’ Last Words

I've always been a bit of a history nerd. In college, I studied history and even taught high school U.S. history at one point. And, if prompted, I will talk anyone's ear off about James Madison–you've been warned!

There's just something fascinating about the stories of how our young country came to be. And one story in particular has always tickled my fancy–one about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

It's a well-known tale. Adams and Jefferson were fierce political foes in our nation's early days, though they became good friends in later years. Both men played an important role in the development of our government.

So it's kind of an amazing coincidence that they died on the very same day in 1826–July 4th. Exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

J.L.G.Ferris' rendering of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas JeffersonThe fact that these two founding fathers passed away on such a significant day is one thing (though they're not the only presidents who have died on July 4th; President  #5, James Monroe, did too), but there's something curious about it all when you consider Adams' purported last words–"Thomas Jefferson survives."

The strange thing? Adams got it wrong. He didn't know it, but Jefferson had died five hours earlier in Virginia.

So what did Adams mean by those words? Could it be he still resented his former opponent?

Maybe. But I like to think Adams meant something completely different. That our nation's second president was actually commenting on what he saw ahead of him. A glimpse of wonder that he perceived before he took his last breaths. "Thomas Jefferson survives." Perhaps not in this world, but in another one entirely.

Of course, I could be wrong. The history nerd in me tends to get carried away! What do you think? Is there some greater meaning behind Adams' last words? Share your interpretation below.

Diana Aydin is an associate editor for Mysterious Ways magazine. When she was just a little kid, she got her first dose of the miraculous. She’s been on the lookout for miracles ever since. Her favorite time of the day is lunch time, when she gets to step away from the workaday world and enjoy a bit of God’s wonder, if only for an hour!

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Your Comments (5)

It's hard to know what John Adams meant for sure, but Thomas Jefferson was a unitarian or deist, not a Christian. The "Jefferson Bible" is one from which he cut out all the references to Jesus' divinity. But the Lord's ways are mysterious to us.

I believe that John Adams was saying that even though he was leaving this earth he was relieved that Jefferson was still alive and would still be able to work for the cause of democracy in the nation they helped create.

I definitely believe in an afterlife so I like to think Adams saw the spirit of Jefferson and was trying to tell us he is still living...

As some report, deathbed moments include hearing angels sing, acknowledging the presence of the LORD JESUS and recognizing friends who have already entered the presence of the LORD. Could it be Adam's comment meant to tease his beloved friend for his heavenly arrival.

Outside of the jealousy between the two, I believe that Adams was referring to the words of Declaration of Independence. And possibly to the expansion brought about by the Louisiana Purchase. To imply he was thinking of something beyond this world is taking it a bit too far.