On July 4, 1826, Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed away. The second and third presidents of the US died within hours of each other on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, a document written by Jefferson and signed by both presidents. Despite a close friendship, the two men engaged in a political rivalry that greatly impacted the early makeup of US law and politics. After losing the presidential election of 1800 to Jefferson, Adams' midnight appointments led to the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison. Their rivalry continued until the end of their lives, with Adams' reported last words being "Thomas Jefferson survives." Jefferson had already died hours earlier.
Learn more about the US presidents from the JURIST news archive.