On July 3, 1826, Thomas Jefferson was near death. According to the Monticello website, three men were with him at various times during those last hours: “Robley Dunglison, the attending physician; Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Jefferson’s grandson; and Nicholas Trist, the husband of Jefferson’s granddaughter,Virginia Randolph.”
According to all three men, Jefferson’s next to last words related to July 4th. He wondered if he had made it to Independence Day. According to the Monticello article, Randolph heard Jefferson call his servants together in the wee hours of July 4. However, his words were not recorded. The article closes with this summary:
In summary, Jefferson’s last words are lost; one supposes they were farewells to the household staff. His last recorded words are “No, doctor, nothing more.” But these are perhaps too prosaic to be memorable. “Is it the Fourth?” or “This is the Fourth of July” have come to be accepted as Jefferson’s last words because they contain what everyone wants to find in such death-bed scenes: deeper meaning.
Tomorrow, I will post the extraordinary story surrounding the deaths of Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, fifty years after the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence.