Four Fascinating 'Coincidences' Involving Presidents' Lives and the Fourth of July


Providence, not coincidence, is seemingly the best explanation for why three of the five first U.S. presidents died on July 4th.

Meanwhile, a fourth president was born on that auspicious date.

July 4, 1776, was the day, of course, when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence announcing the newly formed United States of America was separating from Great Britain.

The British had established 13 colonies along the eastern seaboard in America beginning with Virginia in 1607.

Two of the 56 signers of the Declaration would go on to become president: Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and John Adams of Massachusetts.

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In fact both men were on the committee of five tasked with drafting the document. Others were Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert Livingston of New Jersey.

Jefferson wrote the lion’s share of the Declaration, with Adams and Franklin, primarily, suggesting dozens of edits. The committee then submitted the world-changing document to the Continental Congress, where it was read before the entire body on June 28. More on the significance of that date in a moment.

The Congress itself then made more revisions to the Declaration before it was adopted on July 4.

Adams and Franklin would go on to serve as U.S. ambassadors in Europe during the Revolutionary War. Those two, along with John Jay of New York, negotiated and signed the final treaty officially ending the conflict in September 1783.

Do you think the July 4th deaths were examples of divine providence?

American war leader Gen. George Washington became the first president under the Constitution in 1789, with Adams his vice president and Thomas Jefferson his secretary of state.

Washington served two terms and returned to private life in 1797 while Adams became president.

Jefferson then defeated his former friend Adams in the bitterly fought election of 1800. Jefferson served two terms, followed by James Madison for two terms, and James Monroe for two, as well, finishing in 1825.

He was succeeded by Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams, as president as the U.S. prepared to celebrate its jubilee anniversary in 1826, 50 years as a nation.

At this point, the health of both John Adams and Jefferson was failing. The two had reached the ripe old ages, particularly for that era, of 90 and 83, respectively and had reconciled as friends during their post-presidential years.

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Neither was able to accept invitations to attend festivities planned in Washington, D.C., for independence day. Then when July 4, 1826, arrived Adams and Jefferson died within five hours of each other.

Americans were amazed at the timing.

The great orator and Massachusetts statesman Daniel Webster observed in a eulogy for Jefferson and Adams, “Poetry itself has hardly terminated illustrious lives, and finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had the power, we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine Providence.”

“It cannot but seem striking and extraordinary that these two should live to see the fiftieth year from the date of that act; that they should complete that year; and that then, on the day which had fast linked forever their own fame with their country’s glory, the heavens should open to receive them both at once,” Webster added.

Americans sense of awe would also be rekindled exactly five years later when Monroe, the nation’s fifth president and Revolutionary War veteran, died on the 55th anniversary of independence, July 4, 1831.

The New York Evening Post — the newspaper founded by Alexander Hamilton now the New York Post — reported it on July 5, 1831, as a “coincidence that has no parallel.”

“Three of the four presidents who have left the scene of their usefulness and glory expired on the anniversary of the national birthday, a day which of all others, had it been permitted them to choose [they] would probably had selected for the termination of their careers,” the Post added.

Five years later, Madison, the nation’s four president, died on June 28, 1836. That day happened to be the 60th anniversary of the Declaration first being read before the Continental Congress.

Which means four of the five first U.S. presidents either died on July 4th or a date significant to the Declaration.

But one more president’s life is also connected to the Fourth.

Calvin Coolidge, who served as the United States’ 30th president during the 1920s, was born on July 4, 1872.

Call it all coincidence, but divine providence appears a better explanation.

Randy DeSoto is the author of the book “We Hold These Truths” about the influence of the Declaration of Independence throughout Unites States history. 

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
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Politics, Entertainment, Faith