On Independence Day: Adams, Jefferson, Obama and the Constitution

Published on June 30th, 2014

By Joe Guzzardi
June 30, 2014

On Independence Day, let’s consider the intertwined lives of Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. While we’re at it, let’s also discuss the current White House occupant, Barack Obama, the Constitution and the state of today’s American nation. 

First, a brief American history review. On July 4, 1826 Adams and Jefferson, bitter rivals during their lives, died within hours of each other. Ironically, the date of their deaths marked the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence’s signing.

Jefferson, 83, and Adams, 89, struggled to survive until the 4th. According to accounts, Jefferson had been drifting in and out of consciousness for weeks, until he awoke on the 4th to ask, “Has July 4th arrived?” before he died at his Monticello home at 12:50 P.M. Five hundred miles to the Northeast in Quincy, Massachusetts, Adams uttered his last words just moments before Jefferson passed away: “Jefferson survives!”

In their final years the two former presidents, once intense political rivals, mellowed toward each other. Adams and Jefferson recognized that they were both dedicated to the same causes—independence from England and a grand, glorious America. Each acknowledged the other’s long tireless service on the nation’s behalf. For two decades beginning in 1789, Adams or Jefferson held the office of either president or vice president. 

Adams’ eight years as Washington’s understudy provided him with an excellent foundation to serve. But replacing the beloved Washington was too tough an act for Adams to follow. The people wanted Washington forever.

By the end of Adams’ first term, Jefferson openly criticized the sitting president, calling him a leader who was “distrustful, obstinate, excessively vain,” and who “takes no counsel from anyone.” In the contentious 1800 election, said to be the birthplace of negative campaigning, Jefferson prevailed over the incumbent Adams. 

One reason Jefferson was elected may have been the public backlash to Adams’ 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. The acts were directed against the French who Adams and his Federalist Party feared threatened the new American democracy’s future. Specifically, the Alien Act stated that the president could deport “dangerous” aliens at will. 

Adams’ views on immigration provide a segue to the current border mess where tens of thousands of Central Americans are crossing with impunity. Since Obama’s second term began, immigration and the president’s various unconstitutional deferred action executive orders have consistently been in the headlines.

Most recently, the unchecked arrival of Central American families has raised the question among critics whether these aliens in their mass numbers represent a danger, as Adams may have interpreted the word, to American sovereignty.

For the last five years, Obama has made it clear that he will not enforce immigration law. His proposal to end the border crisis is deceptive, at best. Instead of requesting a fence or a revision in immigration law that allows Central Americans and other foreign nationals to stay while Mexicans and Canadian border crossers must immediately be returned, the president sent Congress a letter asking for $2 billion additional taxpayer money to feed, shelter and medicate the aliens.

Let’s be candid. If any one of any age can enter illegally and almost anything he might say to immigration officials will qualify him to remain permanently and with White House’s tacit blessing, American sovereignty is under siege.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]

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