A Prophetic Dream of a Founding Father
In yesterday’s post, we said God was taking the prophetic anointing to a greater level of maturity and accuracy. We honor and appreciate this anointing of Christ – it is as important as the apostolic, evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching anointings. Christ, which means “anointed one,” broke His anointing down into these 5 functions and gave them as “gifts” to His church, in order that it might fully represent Him (Ephesians 4:7-13). We need all of them functioning in order to accurately and fully reveal Him.
From time to time we have shared about prophetic dreams. Today’s post reveals how a prophetic dream enabled one of our Founding Fathers to assist in healing a serious rift between two other Founders. Our second and third presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, became alienated through strife, regarding political issues. The rift lasted about 10 years.
When the Declaration of Independence was unanimously adopted by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, there was cause for celebration among the 13 colonies. While Thomas Jefferson was the main writer, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and two others advised and edited as they compiled the document, separating the United States from the tyranny of Great Britain.1
Twenty years later, before the elections of 1796 and 1800, Jefferson and Adams still enjoyed a friendship. As mentioned, they had worked closely together to write the Declaration of Independence. They visited each other while serving as diplomats in Europe in the 1780s—Jefferson as minister to France and Adams as the nation’s first Ambassador to Great Britain. After Jefferson’s wife passed away in 1782, he regularly visited the Adams’ home. In fact, John and Abigail Adams became like a surrogate family to Jefferson.2
“Jefferson revealed his affection for Adams to James Madison, writing that Adams ‘is so amiable, that I pronounce you will love him if ever you become acquainted with him.’ Mrs. Adams once called Jefferson ‘one of the choice ones of the earth,’ and Mr. Adams wrote Jefferson saying that ‘Correspondence with you…is one of the most agreeable events in my life.’”3
The rift began while Adams was serving as George Washington’s vice president in the 1790s. Then, Adams won the presidential election of 1796. Jefferson had run against Adams and received the second highest amount of votes, so according to the law at that time, Jefferson became vice president under Adams. How awkward would that be!
Jefferson ran against Adams again in the presidential election of 1800, which turned into a bitter battle, with nasty attack ads and personal accusations. Adams was a staunch Federalist promoting centralized, national power, while Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican who sought a limited government with greater control given to the states. Jefferson won that election. Adams left Washington D.C., to avoid Jefferson’s inauguration, so strong was Adam’s feelings against him at the time.4
Communication between Jefferson and Adams ceased after this contentious and divisive presidential campaign. Their mutual friend, Dr. Benjamin Rush, was deeply troubled over the chasm between the two men. One night, after Jefferson left the presidency, Dr. Rush had a dream which he felt had a prophetic message. On October 17, 1809, Rush wrote the dream and sent it to Adams, urging him to write Jefferson. He sent several more requests over the next two years.
Dr. Rush’s final attempt to get Adams to write Jefferson was on December 16, 1811. Jefferson had told Dr. Rush that he was open to reconciliation but needed Adams to write first. Rush wrote to Adams and said: “And now my dear friend – permit me again to suggest to you, to receive the olive branch which has thus been offered to you by the hand of a Man who still loves you. Fellow labourers in creating the great fabric of American Independence…Embrace, embrace each other. Bedew your letters of reconciliation with tears of affection and joy.”5
After more than a decade of silence they realized their friendship was more valuable than their differences, so they renewed their correspondence. Adams took the first step and wrote to Jefferson on New Year’s Day in 1812, concluding by saying, “I wish you, Sir, many happy new years and that you may enter the next and many succeeding years with as animating Prospects for the Public as those at present before us. I am, Sir, with a long and sincere esteem, your Friend and Servant.”6
Jefferson replied to Adams three weeks later on January 21, 1812: “A letter from you calls up recollections very dear to my mind. It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties & dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government.”7
The two men were regaining a level of trust. On July 15, 1813, Adams wrote Jefferson: “You and I, ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.” 8
“As accurately described in Rush’s dream, Adams and Jefferson did again become close friends, and there did indeed follow the ‘correspondence of several years’ described in the dream. Furthermore, the ‘world was favored with a sight of the letters’ as entire volumes were eventually published which contained the letters written between those two in their latter years.”9 Their letters, over the next 14 years, covered such subjects as government, liberty, religion, philosophy, agriculture, family news, disappointments, and happiness.10
Seventeen years after Dr. Rush’s 1809 dream, Adams and Jefferson did “sink into the grave nearly at the same time” also as the dream had indicated. Amazingly, they both died on July 4th, 1826 – the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence! Adams was 90 and Jefferson was 83. Once political opponents, John Adams’ last words were of his friend. Historians differ, but it was either: “Jefferson survives” or “Jefferson still lives.” He didn’t know, however, that Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.11
Most people aren’t aware that both Adams and Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Incredibly, it was as though both men willed themselves to live until that landmark day. Their passion to see the survival of this “holy experiment” – as many described America in that day – kept them alive until this milestone was reached. Adams, too weak to attend the national Fourth of July celebration, asked to be sat in a chair by his window in order to watch the festivities. While there, he drifted into unconsciousness and died later that night. Another of Adams’ last words spoken before he graduated to Heaven were “Independence forever.”12 Passionate in life; passionate in death.
Who was Dr. Benjamin Rush? He, whose prophetic dream helped unite these two?
- He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
- He served as physician-general of the Continental Army.
- He was a professor of medicine at University of Pennsylvania.
- He helped establish five universities and colleges.
- He was a prolific antislavery writer.
- He helped start America’s first Bible Society. In 1791 he founded First Day Society, an early type of Sunday Schools.
Rush died in 1813—known as one of America’s most notable founders.13 Peacemaker. Reconciler. Prophetic dreamer. Friend to two mutual statesmen who needed to reconcile. A man who believed in forgiveness. One who highly honored God.
Although Adams and Jefferson were wounded by partisan politics and never saw eye-to-eye regarding government, as old men they re-evaluated their lives, chose to try and understand the other, and forgave them. Their letters give us a rich picture of America in their times. What a legacy. We can give thanks to a man who was determined that they mend their friendship…and who acted on a God-given dream!
What a privilege to live in this America!
Pray with me:
Father, thank You for the brave men who wrote and adopted our Declaration of Independence, making us a free nation. We often forget their solemn sacrifices when many knew by signing that document they might be signing their own death warrants. Some did lose their homes, fortunes, loved ones. Thank You for all those who lay down their political differences for the sake of unity and freedom. Thank You for the lessons they taught us about forgiveness and reconciliation. May we be worthy of their sacrifices.
Thank You for speaking to us, Holy Spirit, through Your word, dreams, visions, prophecy, and words of knowledge. Teach us to value Your voice, and to recognize it more quickly. We ask You to mature the prophetic giftings in the church, that we might enjoy and see the full fruit of this Christ-anointing. May listening to You become more than an exciting anomaly. May it be a daily pleasure.
We ask this in the name of our worthy Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
We will do our part to help maintain our freedoms; and we will pray for God’s wisdom for our leaders, in order that we fulfill our nation’s destiny.
12. Adams, John. July 4, 1826.
13. Toby Mac and Michael Tait, Under God, (Bloomington, Minnesota, Bethany House Publishers, 2004), 29-30