Founding Brothers

Why does Ellis believe the summer of 1813 was a turning point in the correspondence between Jefferson and Adams and what topics did they discuss in their letters from 1813-1814?

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The major themes throughout the 1813-1814 phase of the correspondence are social inequality and the role of elites in American governance. Indirectly, the men are talking about themselves, and others of the Revolutionary generation. Jefferson posed the question, “Whether the power of the people, of that of the aristori should prevail” (233). Adams insisted that the elites were an inevitable and intricate part of every society, and certainly occurred naturally in America. Jefferson reflected that the “Band of the Brothers of ‘76” had been selected by skill, and in the republican tradition, rather than by breeding or wealth. He also stated that the aristocracy had been left behind in Europe. Adams argued that it is wealth - or the lack of it - which creates inequality, especially in America, and therefore called Jefferson’s hope for human equality an impossible dream. In short, for Adams, the source of the problem was not European feudalism, but human nature.