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The Academy Remembers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

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Academy Vice President John Thornton Kirkland delivered “A Discourse in Commemoration of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson” before the society on October 30, 1826. Adams was a Charter Member of the Academy and served as its second President; Jefferson was elected in 1787. Both men had died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Kirkland spoke of the sobering effect their deaths had on the Members, who had previously voted to offer "a tribute of respectful remembrance" in their honor. Adams and Jefferson were praised as “men, who, in the lofty contemplation of American Independence, saw, with wise discernment, its essential connection with intellectual improvement; who brightened the darkest hours of a perilous conflict with the light of letters, and adorned their elevated stations and their calm retirement by the promotion of science, and by generous and uniform encouragement of all good learning in the community.”

Kirkland asked the Members to honor Adams and Jefferson by continuing their quest for positive advancements in knowledge: “They would exhort us to manifest our sentiments of regard, not merely by praises, but by the practice of the virtues which make us at once happy and useful; by emulating their industry in seeking knowledge and doing good; by holding in due estimation the public blessings which they laboured and suffered to secure; and by a perpetual co-operation in maintaining and advancing the welfare of our common country.”

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