Story of Thomas Jefferson - J. W. McSpadden
It was nearing the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Its author lay dying. About his bed stood members of his family, their faces pale, their breath catching, now and again, in sobs hushed quickly.
The old man raised his hand. His eyes were closed.
"Warn the committee to be on the alert!" he whispered, dreaming of some time of trial and stress among the many he had faced and fought through.
Silently the watchers waited. Again his lips moved.
"This is the Fourth?" he asked, opening his eyes.
Silence for a few moments.
"This is the Fourth?" once again anxiously. "Yes."
"Ah!" breathed Thomas Jefferson, the old kindly light upon his face. Once more sleep claimed him.
When the sun of the Fourth of July was a little past mid-heaven, he breathed his last.
The over-tired body had at last refused to carry on the behests of the busy brain. It was a needed rest.
By a strange coincidence, Quincy, Massachusetts, knew, on that day, the passing of another aged patriot, the second president of the United States, and the man who had spoken boldly for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams's last words were. "Thomas Jefferson still lives."
But Thomas Jefferson, whose long and busy life had been devoted to his country and to all that could contribute to the freedom of mankind, had, at that selfsame hour, preceded his old friend and compatriot. At evening on that Fourth of July, the last two who had taken part in the long-ago scene in the old "Quaker Town" had gone.
To-day, on the summit of the mountain where Dabney Carr and young Tom Jefferson studied and planned together, they rest side by side. Over the grave of the boy who grew up to be a great as well as a good man stands a stone bearing the words he had chosen for it: