John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were two exceptionally influential leaders of the factionalism party during the first term of government under the U.S. Constitution. At this time, Adams had been elected as the first Vice President after placing second to George Washington in the nation's first presidential election. Meanwhile in 1792, Jefferson joined James Madison in forming an anti-administration party that would later become known as the Democratic-Republicans.
Tensions between the men hit an all time high during the election of 1796. This was the election that caused a battle between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams that came down to a very narrow victory of only a 3 vote margin. Due to the original laws for a presidential election, the runner up became Vice President. This meant for another term, Jefferson was a member of a government that he publicly opposed. Their rivalry was so intense in 1800, when Jefferson defeated Adams to become the third President, that Adams left the Capital City on Jefferson’s inauguration day. Adams was so begrudged by his loss on his way out of office he appointed a number of Jefferson's political opponents to high positions.
The friendship between Adams and Jefferson reached its lowest point during Jefferson’s two terms as President, however was slowly restored after they had both retired from politics. Ironically, on July 4th, 1826, fifty years after the Declaration of Independence was published, both Jefferson and Adams died. It has been reported that one of Adams' last statements was, "Thomas Jefferson survives," as news of his old rival’s death that morning was yet to reach him. Was their rivalry friendship one based on fate, coincidence, or something beyond our comprehension?