Perhaps you feel as I do this Independence Day. I am celebrating the uniting of 13 colonies into one country and am also simultaneously feeling upset because the political climate suggests we are not united. But I take comfort from the hand of providence that was manifest on the 50th anniversary of our country’s independence.

The most contentious presidential election in our country’s history was in 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This was a rematch of the 1796 election. In 1796 Adams won. In 1800 Jefferson won. Adams was a Federalist from the North and favored a strong central government and close ties to Great Britain. Jefferson was a founder of the Democratic-Republicans Party, was from the South, and favored states’ rights and close ties to France. After the election Adams went home to Massachusetts. They never saw each other again.

But, in 1809, fellow Founding Father, Benjamin Rush, urged the two opponents to reconcile. Three years later, in 1812 Adams sent a New Year’s greeting card to Jefferson. Jefferson warmly responded. This began “one of the most extraordinary correspondences in American history” according to historian David McCullogh. For the next 14 years they exchanged 158 letters in which they discussed their political differences.

They did not agree, but they respected each other, and continued their correspondence. This was evidenced on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. On this momentous anniversary both men passed from mortality into eternity. Not knowing that Jefferson had passed four hours earlier, Adams last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

I thank God that we live in a free and independent country. I thank Him that bitter political enemies like Adams and Jefferson can bury differences and be friends. I pray that all of us who are hurting because of the tense political climate can follow their examples and show our independence from anger and instead continue friendships and correspondence with those with whom we disagree.

To read more about Adams and Jefferson’s relationship check out…