July 4 and Dead Presidents

Did you know that three U.S. presidents died on Independence Day?

John Adams gravesite
The gravesite of President John Adams, United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts. Photo © Travel Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

July 4 marks the birth of the United States, but did you know that two of America's most significant Founding Fathers died within hours of each other on the same Independence Day? Or that a third U.S. president died on July 4 only five years later? This article explores the strange connection between several of America's leaders and the July 4 holiday.

America's 2nd and 3rd Presidents
Most schoolchildren learn about the many significant contributions John Adams and Thomas Jefferson made during the struggle to "dissolve the political bands" that connected the 13 colonies and Great Britain in the mid-1700s in order to establish the United States of America as a separate, equal nation.

Tasked by the Continental Congress to draft a written expression of the colonies' need to separate from Great Britain, Jefferson was appointed by the "Committee of Five" (Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Jefferson) to draft a statement explaining why in June 1776.

Within roughly three weeks, Jefferson delivered such a document. With some modifications, the fledgling congress ratified this document (the "Declaration of Independence") and permanently, irrevocably severed all allegiance with England's King George III and Great Britain. Both Jefferson and Adams are among the original signers of this historic document.

Afterward, both Adams and Jefferson served as vice president and president of the United States of America. Despite political pressures that impeded their friendship for more than a decade, Adams reestablished communication with Jefferson in 1812. Via nearly 160 ensuing letters over roughly the next 14 years, the aging pair exchanged views on politics, government, their roles in history and many other topics.

On July 4, 1826 -- exactly 50 years after the signing of the "Declaration of Independence" -- both Jefferson and Adams died within five hours of each other despite their separation by hundreds of miles. (Discover the final words that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson said on their deathbeds.)

America's 5th President
Incredibly, a third U.S. president also died on July 4, albeit five years later in 1831.

The health of former President James Monroe started declining after he left the White House in 1825. Following the death of his beloved wife Elizabeth five years later, Monroe moved into his daughter's home in New York City, New York. One year later, at age 73, the last of America's Founding Fathers died from tuberculosis, marking the third of America's first five presidents to die on July 4.

America's 21st Vice President
Finally, one vice president in the history of the United States also died on July 4: Hannibal Hamlin, who served under President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, died on Independence Day in 1891.

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