The news of Adams’s death reached Boston by the end of the day. The Columbian Centinel (Boston, MA) was aligned with Federalist sentiment in the Federalist Era and used mourning bars, large dark lines to signify mourning for former president Adams in its July 8, 1826 edition. Mourning bars have been used by newspaper publishers as early as the 17th century to communicate to readers that someone has died. According to newspaper reports, Adams’s last words were, “Jefferson still lives.” In the course of a few days, news of Jefferson’s death arrived from Virginia and the next issue of the Columbian Sentinel included the headline, “Another GREAT MAN is No More! and our columns again are shrowed in respectful mourning.”
Death of Thomas Jefferson
The Constitutional Whig (Richmond, VA) published news of Jefferson’s death in its July 7, 1826 issue.
Death of Jefferson and Adams
The Wilmingtonian, and Delaware Advertiser (Wilmington, DE) published news of both Jefferson’s and Adams’s deaths in its July 13, 1826 issue.
After the deaths were announced, eulogies were pronounced across the country, and commemorations were printed in newspapers. Statesman Daniel Webster’s eulogy for Adams and Jefferson spoke to the point that many people believed: That something other than coincidence was involved. Yet another odd coincidence: Exactly five years later, on July 4, 1831, former U.S. President James Monroe died.
- Search Chronicling America* to find more newspaper coverage of the deaths of Adams and Jefferson, subsequent funerals, and more.
- Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (2017) by Gordon S. Wood.
- An address delivered at Charlestown, August 1, 1826: In Commemoration of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (1826) by Edward Everett.
- A Funeral Sermon on the Death of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Ex-Presidents of the United States, Preached on Sunday Evening, July 16, 1826, in the First Unitarian Church, Washington City, (1826) by Robert Little.
*The Chronicling America historic newspapers online collection is a product of the National Digital Newspaper Program and jointly sponsored by the Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Follow Chronicling America on Twitter @ChronAmLOC.
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