The Public Interest

The cultural contradictions of conservatism

George F. Will

Spring 1996

A POETIC episode in our national history occurred July 4, 1826. On that 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the author of that founding document, Thomas Jefferson, died. So did John Adams, who did as much as anyone to produce the occasion for Jefferson’s document. The second president’s last words referred to the third president: “Thomas Jefferson survives.” The third president’s last words were, “Is it the Fourth?”

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