Founding Brothers

How did each man view the Revolution?

Adams and Jefferson

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

The Jeffersonian version of the American Revolution depicts Adams and Jefferson fighting alongside one another against England, all to help form the new government. However, a line of division was drawn between them when they each headed to a different political party. For Jefferson, a clash of dichotomies has always existed: Tories vs. Whigs; America vs. Europe; Republican vs. Federalist; the forces of light vs. the forces of darkness, etc. Jefferson easily cast the Federalists in the role of the villains whose corrupt theology catered to the “few,” while Jefferson’s own Republicans favored the “many.”

Adams, however, did not truly fit into Jefferson’s version of history. He was never technically a Federalist, nor did his political ideals differ so greatly from Jefferson’s. Jefferson urged Adams to tell his own version of history, so that posterity could judge which was correct.

Adams’s story was unfortunately jumbled in the retelling. His accounts of history were realistic and grounded, but lacked the romantic quality of Jefferson‘s. Yet the conversational give and take of their correspondence offered Adams the chance to oppose this romanticized view even if he could not compose it into a single narrative. Jefferson’s idealistic version ultimately triumphed for posterity.