Thrown together at the Continental Congress, Adams and Jefferson impressed their fellow delegates in different ways but their devotion to the cause was such that they were both placed on the committee to write the Declaration. Their friendship matured, however, when both were sent to France, along with Benjamin Franklin, to woo the French government into officially recognizing the United States and provide support in loans and troops. The two men’s passion for liberty under law and willingness to sacrifice their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” in the cause of independence was not all that they had in common, however. They were both men of the soil and loved their farms and their families. Both of their wives bore six children, though Jefferson’s Martha died at the age of thirty-three in 1782 and Abigail Adams lived till 1818 and the age of seventy three.
Declaration of Independence, by John Trumball depicts the five-man drafting committee — including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — presenting their work to Congress
The two great founders parted ways when their political views diverged as they served in the Washington administration in the last decade of the 18th Century. As one historian began his account of the “tumultuous election of 1800,” Adams and Jefferson could “write like angels and scheme like demons.” Their correspondence and friendship came to end in that bitter “first true presidential campaign.” Adams had always been more favorable to England and Jefferson’s love of France and support of the French Revolution had initially proven a point of contention. The 1800 election highlighted the discordant ideals of the two friends — Jefferson’s ardent republicanism and Adams’s federalism. Apart from a few perfunctory letters between Abigail Adams and Jefferson, the principle founders remained aloof from each other for a number of years.