Organizers of the fiftieth anniversary Independence Day celebrations in Washington DC wanted Thomas Jefferson to join them. He was old and sick at the time, forcing him to politely decline the invite.
He would die within days, ironically on the very day, July the Fourth, he and the compatriots had signed the Declaration fifty years earlier. The year was 1826, eighteen-hundred and twenty-six. It was a strange day, filled with historic coincidences. John Adams died later that day, too.
In declining the invitation, Jefferson drafted a letter at Monticello.
“ . . . that form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”