If you're reading this on our nation's birthday, the Fourth of July, you might like to know a remarkable coincidence occurred on this date back in 1826. Two of our former presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died that same day ... more than that. Exactly 50 years earlier, the Declaration of Independence, which both had worked on, was read to the Second Continental Congress. Though Jefferson wrote most of it, Adams was on the committee, adding an additional complaint or two about King George's unfair treatment.
That alone may excite astrologers into pouring over their planet charting, but even more coincidences are linked: Jefferson was Adams' vice president. Their philosophies about how the new government should be run differed enough, however, to form two opposing political parties -- Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. This, in turn, caused an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be added separating how presidents and vice presidents are elected.
Also, they were two of our more educated presidents; Adams went to Harvard while Jefferson was a graduate of William and Mary. (Did you know eight of our presidents never went to college -- Washington, Lincoln, Van Buren, Taylor, Fillmore, Cleveland, Andrew Johnson and Truman?). If Taylor and Tyler had died on the same day, so what? But Adams and Jefferson ... whew!
Now to toss in another quirky coincidence -- a man later referred to as the "Father of American Music" was born that very day. Over in Lawrence, Pennsylvania, some midwife brought future composer Stephen Foster into the world. Many of us start humming "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races" and "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair" just reading or hearing his name. Find a recording of his "Beautiful Dreamer" and compare it to some of the "hits" being belted out on the radio or TV today.
Living in the days before copyright laws and mass media recordings, Foster made very little money publishing his songs, ending his final days living in a cheap hotel on New York's Lower East Side. That was where he suffered a midwinter chill that became a fever, which eventually landed him in Bellevue Hospital. Stephen Foster was 37 years old when he passed away a few days later. Attendants found only 38 cents in his pocket -- a historic irony when you think of the money being made today by those who compose some of today's most popular pieces such as "Poker Face," "Since U Been Gone" and "Bootylicious!"
The Foster melodies bring to mind the following story: an elderly little lady approached a hipster-type fellow standing on a corner. The guy was wearing a cool Borsalino hat, shades, a draped, pink sport coat and pegged, black trousers with a gold watch chain looped down to one knee. The lady asked, "Does the crosstown trolley pass this way?"
While snapping the fingers of one hand rhythmically, the hipster quickly responds, "Doo-da-doo-da-day!"
Contact Joe King at alamedanews@ ayareanewsgroup.com.