My friend, Ron McClung, recently shared the following in his Positive Perspective column. With his permission, I'm passing it along to you for the 4th of July.
John and Tom could hardly have been more different. John was a talker who did so often and forcefully. Tom was quiet, preferring to write and read rather than engage in debate. John came from the north while Tom grew up in the south.
Both were farmers and both became lawyers. Both were elected to the Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia in 1775. By now you know I’m thinking about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
They collaborated on the Declaration of Independence, with Jefferson writing most of it. Adams and Benjamin Franklin made suggestions for changes and embellishments. The Congress tweaked it further before final passage.
John Adams advocated a strong central government. Without a solid central government, how would these colonies ever stick together to form the United States of America?
Thomas Jefferson believed strongly in states’ rights. Each state, while loyal to the central government, had the right to determine many things for itself.
Unfortunately, their disagreements became sharp. They even became political rivals. Upon George Washington’s completion of his second term as President, and his refusal to run for a third term, John Adams was elected. Since Jefferson came in second, he became vice-president, as was the practice in those days.
Apart from a single conversation on the street, the two never communicated directly again during Adams’ presidency. When they both ran for President in 1801, Jefferson won and Adams retired.
They reconciled by letter before they died, Adams sending his correspondence from his native Massachusetts and Jefferson responding from his native Virginia. They both died on the same day, exactly fifty years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, on July 4, 1826. Adams was 90 and Jefferson was 83.
Adams’ last words, unaware that Jefferson had succumbed a few hours earlier, were: “Thomas Jefferson survives.”
It took strong personalities to forge a robust nation. When two live wires come into contact with each other, sparks often result. Whom have you encountered, resulting in sparks? Is there someone with whom you need to reconcile?
St. Paul said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). On this Independence Day, don’t be so independent that you cannot forgive. Strong personalities can be at peace, even if they have to agree to disagree.