Founding Brothers

What role did Dr. Benjamin Rush play in mending the relationship between Adams and Jefferson?



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By 1807, Adams was regularly writing to Rush about Jefferson, whom he had not directly discussed before. He grew more and more explicit about his resentments. When Rush in 1809 told Adams about a dream he had in which Adams and Jefferson reconciled their friendship and “sunk into the grave at nearly the same time,” Adams insisted that Jefferson would have to take the first step towards reconciliation if it were to happen (20). Rush was also corresponding with Jefferson, and knew that the chances of such a reunion were slim.

However, in 1811, one of Jefferson's associates, Edward Coles, visited Adams in Quincy. During that time, Adams confessed to Coles, “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him” (221). Adams knew that Rush had been subtly attempting to broker a friendship, and likely said this hoping it would reach Jefferson. It did, and Jefferson replied that he still had respect for Adams. On January 1, 1812, Adams sent a short letter to Jefferson, who had been out of office for 4 years. The note began a fourteen year correspondence of ideas, remembrances, apologies, and insights. Their exchange includes 158 letters.