“An Affection That Can Never Die”
Adams and Jefferson
VICE PRESIDENT JEFFERSON did not call on President Adams when he arrived in the capital late in November 1800. Nor did Adams invite the vice president to the President's House. Once these two had been close friends. As late as 1791, in fact, Adams had spoken of a bond of fifteen years “between Us without the smallest interruption.” 1 They had worked together easily while serving in Congress, and later, while in Paris on diplomatic assignments, their friendship flowered to the point that Abigail Adams called Jefferson “the only person” with whom her husband “could associate with perfect freedom and unreserve.” 2
Jefferson had believed that Adams possessed the attributes necessary for extraordinary statesmanship, including honesty, a rare ability to persevere in the face of foreboding hostility, formidable intelligence, and remarkable disinterestedness. Adams, Jefferson added, was “profound in his vision … and accurate in his judgment, ” and his tireless energy ensured that he would get things done. 3 Jefferson saw blemishes in Adams, noting that he was vain and irritable, somewhat naive, and unduly cynical. Nevertheless, his virtues easily outweighed his faults, Jefferson had concluded in 1787. Adams was a gregarious and warmhearted soul, he said, and advised Madison that he “is so amiable, that I pronounce you will love him.” 4
At first blush it seems odd that an affinity ever existed between Adams and Jefferson, given their mismatched temperaments and disparate lifestyles.