Franklin, Adams and Jefferson. Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930)

The forth day of the 12 days of a Scout Christ­mas reminds us that a Scout is friendly. To be friendly means that you befriend those you meet, you think of other’s needs before your own and you help and support those around you.

The first White House Christmas party was held in December 1800. President and Mrs. Adams gave it for their four-year-old granddaughter Suzannah, who was living with them. The Adams invited the children of “official” Washington to the party—Christmas Traditions at the White House

The close friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams is legendary. But their friendship was not always perfect. In fact, at times they were respectful opposites and eventually bitter opponents.

Their acquaintance began when they met for the Continental Congress in 1775. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation writes of this as follows:

“Although different in many ways down to their appearance, the two developed a strong respect and liking for one another. In 1776, they worked together on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, and in 1784, Jefferson joined Adams in France on diplomatic service. While Jefferson remained in Paris, Adams served primarily in London, from where, Jefferson wrote Abigail Adams, he considered her ‘as my neighbor.’1 In March of 1786, Jefferson went to England on diplomatic business, though in the two months he was there, he and Adams found time to make a tour of English gardens. They also visited Shakespeare’s home — and chipped off a bit of his chair as a souvenir, in Adams’ words, ‘according to the custom.’2

“Through their work and play, Jefferson and the Adamses became close friends. Jefferson revealed his affection to James Madison, writing that Adams ‘is so amiable, that I pronounce you will love him if you ever become acquainted with him.’3 Mrs. Adams once called Jefferson ‘one of the choice ones of the earth,’4 and Mr. Adams wrote Jefferson that ‘intimate Correspondence with you . . . is one of the most agreable Events in my Life.'”5

After helping to frame the Declaration of Independence and fight the Revolutionary War, each man in turn became president. Adams first and then Jefferson, both with different ideas of governing.

Adams, who was quick tempered, favored a strong central government. Jefferson, who was a gentle intellectual, believed in states’ rights with a federal government that was more hands-off. Their philosophical schism represented the two major thoughts of the day, with Adams favoring urban industrialization and Jefferson the landowning farmer. Their differences among others gave birth to the two party system.

Jefferson served as Adams’ vice president, but he was so unhappy with Adam’s position that he left Washington for his estate at Monticello. There according to This Day in History, “he plotted how to bring his Republican faction back into power in the presidential election of 1800. After an exceptionally bitter campaign, in which both parties engaged in slanderous attacks on each other in print, Jefferson emerged victorious. It appeared the former friends would be eternal enemies.”

However, and let this be a lesson to Scouts every where, both “… maintained their friendship despite their political differences,” that until each made it hard for the other to serve as President.  Then, “when Jefferson retired from the presidency in 1809, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration [of Independence] …took it upon himself to renew their suspended friendship.

“He had no success until 1811, when one of Jefferson’s neighbors visited Adams in Massachusetts. The neighbor returned to Virginia with the report that he had heard Adams say, ‘I always loved Jefferson, and still love him.’ In response to these words, Jefferson wrote Dr. Rush: ‘This is enough for me. I only needed this knowledge to revive towards him all of the affections of the most cordial moments of our lives.’9 He asked Rush to persuade Adams to renew their correspondence. A letter from Adams was forthcoming, and they continued to write until their deaths.

“This reconciliation began a rich correspondence that touched on myriad topics, from reminiscences about their contributions to the young nation’s history, to opinions on current political issues, to matters of philosophy and religion, to issues of aging. Their letters were also lighthearted and filled with affection. Jefferson wrote, ‘I have compared notes with Mr. Adams on the score of progeny, and find I am ahead of him, and think I am in a fair way to keep so. I have 10 1/2 grandchildren, and 2 3/4 great-grand-children; and these fractions will ere long become units.’10

“After fifteen years of resumed friendship, on July 4, 1826, Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other. Their deaths occurred—perhaps appropriately—on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Unaware that his friend had died hours earlier, Adams’ family later recalled that his last spoken words were, ‘Thomas Jefferson survives.’11

“The written words of Jefferson and Adams, however, survive to this day, preserving the rich legacy of their friendship.”

Continue vis­iting the Voice of Scout­ing to find inspir­ing Christ­mas mes­sages based on the twelve points of the Scout Law: A Scout is trust­wor­thy, loy­al, help­ful, friend­ly, cour­te­ous, kind, obe­di­ent, cheer­ful, thrifty, brave, clean and rev­er­ent.

This year, the Christ­mas mes­sages will focus on the lives of his­tor­i­cal fig­ures and times when they exem­pli­fied a point of the Scout Law.

Darryl Alder
Darryl is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. These days he is a Scouting Ambassador and serves on the Council Membership and Marketing Committee. However, his pride in Scouting is his volunteer service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative, and Commissioner.

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