It has been 240 years since the Declaration of Independence asserted America’s sovereignty on July 4th of 1776. Did you know that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson passed away exactly 50 years later, on July 4 of 1826?
I won’t be covering a news story today, but instead, I’ll share some good ‘ole American history, plus a little history on U.S. real estate.
As I’m sure you know, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson worked together with the other founding fathers, to draft the Declaration of Independence which was established on the 4th of July, 1776.
What you may not know is that both men died exactly 50 years later on, on July 4th of 1826. They lived in different states and of course didn’t have phones at that time, so they didn’t coordinate this. It’s just an amazing coincidence.
Some historians believe the two Presidents stayed alive so they could celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their great work. According to some accounts, Jefferson’s last words were, “Is it the Fourth?”
And if that’s not bizarre enough in itself, James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, died exactly five years after Adams and Jefferson, on July 4, 1831.
When Jefferson and Adams died, John Quincy Adams was President. Jefferson had concerns about that and for the future of his country. Another of his last statements was, “Warn the committee to be on their guard – to be ever vigilant in defending freedom.”
Even though Adams and Jefferson agreed on the Declaration of Independence, they were political adversaries during the founding years of America.
In the first U.S. Presidential election in 1788, John Adams was elected as vice president under George Washington. In 1796, John Adams was elected as the second President of the United States and Jefferson became his vice president.
If you think today’s battle between the Republican and Democratic parties is vicious, it’s important to understand that our country was founded on nearly the same passionate differences in opinion.
There were also two ruling political parties at the time – the Federalists and the Republicans. The Republicans were more like the Democrats of today, and the Federalists were more like today’s Republicans.
John Adams was a staunch Federalist. They were called Federalists because they pushed for more federal power over the individual states. Federalists were considered elitist, because its leaders scorned democracy, voting rights for all, and open elections. The party was headquartered in the Northeast, and failed to attract plantation owners and farmers in the South and West, which eventually led to the party’s demise.
During Adam’s one term as President, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which was a series of four bills written by Federalists to protect the U.S. from foreign citizens. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Jefferson, who was vice president at the time, vehemently opposed the acts, and so did his followers. This contributed to Jefferson’s victory over Adams in the next election, when Jefferson became the 3rd U.S. President.
Jeffersonians were deeply committed to Republicanism in the United States. They were against corruption and insisted on virtue. They supported the “plain folk” and mistrusted the aristocrats, the elites, merchants, bankers and manufacturers.
When Jefferson took office, he expanded the Republican Party, which he founded in opposition to the Federalist Party. It was also referred to as Jeffersonian Democracy or the Democratic-Republican Party. He’s been called “the most democratic of the Founding fathers.”
One example is the impact he made on the right for poor people who didn’t own land, to vote.
Immediately after the Revolution, most states only allowed land owners to vote. It was believed at the time that citizens needed to have an economic stake in society in order to be trusted to vote wisely. If a voter lacked economic independence, it was believed he could be too easily manipulated by an employer.
At the beginning of the Jeffersonian era, only two states, Vermont and Kentucky, had established universal white male suffrage. By 1840, more than 90% of adult white men possessed the right to vote.
There’s a lot of talk about women’s suffrage, but it’s not common knowledge that men also had to fight for their voting rights in the U.S. As property requirements for voting were abolished during the Jefferson era, economic status was not longer a requirement for citizenship.
Additionally, voters could finally cast their vote for more offices. Previously, governors and presidential electors had been selected by state legislatures. The growing democratic movement of the first decades of the 19th century changed this so that all offices would be chosen by direct vote. This is how the United States became the world leader in allowing popular participation in elections.
Unfortunately the triumph for white men’s voting rights resulted in a major set back for black men and women. As state legislatures opened suffrage to all white men regardless of their economic status, the voting doors were shut on free African Americans and white women.
For example, New Jersey revised its state constitution and abolished the requirements for voters to own land in 1807, but at the same time prevented all women from voting – even wealthy ones who had been allowed to vote since 1776 as well as all free blacks. New York acted similarly in 1821 when its legislature extended voting rights to all white men, but created high property requirements for free blacks.
The idea of total democracy remained too radical at the time. Imagine if the people of the early 1800’s were able to get a sneak peak into the future, when a black man was President for two full terms, and a white woman stood in line as his successor.
As I mentioned earlier, Jeffersonian democracy – or the Republican Democratic Party – morphed into what we know as the Democratic Party today. Of course, it’s nothing like Jefferson would have imagined. He was not in favor of a big federal government – and he fought for what he called “the blessings and security of self-government.”
He was not looking to create a party that gave the federal government the responsibility to take care of people’s housing, education and healthcare. He just wanted all people to have the right to flourish without controls of federal government, bankers or elitists. And he was certainly anti-taxation. Blood was shed to fight that!
Even though Adams and Jefferson were the founders of two opposing political parties, they reconnected in their old age in their retirement, they both expressed their concerns for the new nation. In a letter to Jefferson, Adams wrote, “You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.”
Both former Presidents worried about the future of the country, especially as it concerned the growing tension between the north and the south.
One month after their deaths on July 4th, renowned American statesman Daniel Webster delivered a eulogy for both Adams and Jefferson. In his speech he praised both men’s achievements, saying that they would influence society for the rest of time, “No two men now live …who, more than those we now commemorate, have … given a more lasting direction to the current of human thought. Their work doth not perish with them.”
Here’s some more interesting facts about President Jefferson: he nearly doubled the size of the U.S. by acquiring 828,000 square miles of land in the Louisiana Purchase and he authorized the Lewis and Clark’s expedition out West.
What’s also very interesting is that the Federalist party disintegrated after Jefferson took office. The Federalists laid the foundations of a national economy, created a national judicial system and formulated the principles of foreign policy.
But the party’s downfall was its inability to address the needs of the rising, popular democratic spirit. The Federalists emphasis upon banking, commerce, and nationalized institutions helped to shape the young nation, but it became unpopular among the majority of Americans who were still “people of the soil.”
That appears to be what’s happening today, with what may be the downfall of the Republican party. History always repeats itself…
The Republican party – which at one time seemed to be a resurrected version of the Federalist party – has been run by elitists. But lately, thanks to Trump, it seems to have more support from a very angry working class. Oddly enough, right-wing conservative Christians remain as the party’s constituents.
If you were an alien coming to visit this planet, you might think a group of people who followed a shoeless, long haired hippie who came to Earth to heal and spread love and peace – might be more aligned with the Democratic party and Bernie Sanders.
Yet, Christians seem to align more with the party that has been known to be elitist. They seem to get outraged by social programs like health care and education but don’t say much about irresponsible military spending. They seem to point to Muslims as the problem to violence rather than outdated laws that allow anyone to purchase a military grade weapon – even if they’ve been on an FBI watch list or have shown mental illness in the past.
I am sure I’ve offended some Republicans so please understand I am only asking the question because I find it curious. I was born and raised Republican, from a right wing Christian family. I am still registered Republican, so I’m not an outsider by any means. In fact, I am a direct descendent of John Adams, who was a Federalist and elitist – so it’s in my blood!
However, things do appear to be changing again, just as they did back in the 1800’s. My advice:
Don’t fall into fear mongering. We’ve been controlled by the power elite’s fear tactics for too long.
More people die every year crossing the street in NYC than they do from terrorism. Where’s the uproar over that? Should we be racially profiling reckless drivers?
I just watched the movie Spotlight – which was about reporters from the Boston Globe who uncovered the sex scandals within the Catholic Church. They exposed thousands of priests who had been repeatedly raping children for years, but whose sexual assaults were covered up by attorneys, the police and even the church itself.
Where was the political uproar over that? Why weren’t politicians demanding that no more Catholics come into the country, or that we should send all Catholics out of the country?
Why? Because most people are aware that there are good people and bad people in every religion, within every race and every economic level. It has nothing to do with race, and only has to do with the violation of law and respect for human life.
Be careful of government propaganda. It’s more important than ever to listen to your heart when making decisions. I understand we’ve been given very few choices when it comes to electing our next President. It doesn’t feel fair at all and no party seems particularly happy with their nominee.
As you probably already know by now, I could not in any good conscience align myself with a Republican leader who preaches hate, violence, sexism and racism. Even if his economic policies were sound, which I don’t believe they are, I still could not support Trump. Where does that leave me, and the millions of Republicans who feel the same?
Most leaders within the Republican party can’t bring themselves to support Trump either. That’s why it’s very possible that the one thing Trump is accomplishing is the demolition of the Republican party – just like Adams did in 1800’s.
Perhaps a new party will emerge from all this. One that’s more enlightened. One that looks at possibilities rather than spreading fear, violence and separation.
We have access to technology today, which our forefathers may never have even dreamed! New technology gives us the ability to create a society that takes care of its own while allowing businesses and individuals to thrive.
Try to imagine what Utopia would look like, and let’s make decisions from that place. It is possible! America IS great, and can lead the way in becoming even greater.
I suggest reading the book called, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.
The technology is there to feed the world, offer free energy, and give everyone access to the best health care – without breaking budgets. We just have to get big government and the power elite out of the way.
With the collapse of oil and the banking industry, that could actually be happening.