Even though you think the best part of July 4th is the brats and beer, you know that the country celebrates Independence Day in commemoration of the founding of this country. But the holiday isn’t all heat, humidity and John Hancock. While the United States has much to celebrate, it also lost some of its most influential figures on this date. You might have heard the story of one, but there have actually been three presidents who died July 4th.
John Adams seems to be the most widely known president who died on July 4th. Maybe that’s not only because his rumored dying words, “Thomas Jefferson still survives” or “Thomas Jefferson survives” (depending on who’s retelling the story), are quite memorable but also due to his death appearing notably patriotic. Adams passed away in 1826 on the 50th anniversary of our Independence Day. But he’s not the only president who died July 4th, in fact, he’s not even the only president who died July 4th in 1826.
Presidents who died July 4th
So, who are all the presidents who died July 4th? Call it patriotism or sheer coincidence, but three of our first five presidents died on July 4th. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, long-time friends and occasional rivals, both passed away in 1826 on July 4th. If those were indeed John Adams’ last words, he was unaware of the state of his friend’s health over 500 miles away from where Adams lay dying in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Both of their deaths received a great deal of attention for the timing on the 50th anniversary of the birth of the country since both were integral to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, the two bickered over who of the two of them would do the writing and Adams recorded the conversation and his reasons for wanting Jefferson to write the draft.
“Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught. I said I will not; You shall do it. Oh No! Why will you not? You ought to do it. I will not. Why? Reasons enough,” Adams started. He then outlines his reasoning: “What can be your reasons? Reason 1st. You are a Virginian, and Virginia ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason 2d. I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular; You are very much otherwise. Reason 3d: You can write ten times better than I can. ‘Well,’ said Jefferson, ‘if you are decided I will do as well as I can.'”
The last of the presidents who died July 4th was our fifth president James Monroe, who passed away in 1831 of heart failure and tuberculosis. With his death, the United States lost three Founding Fathers on July 4th.