United States and American History: 1826

About the history of the United States in 1826, a flu epidemic, Thomas Jefferson's financial woes, Clay and Randolph duel, Jefferson and Adams die on the 4th of July.


--Maryland decreed that public office could be held by a Jew. Previously a belief in Christianity was required of office holders.

Jan. An influenza epidemic hit the South, New York, and New England.

Feb. In a letter to Madison, Thomas Jefferson proposed selling some of his property through a lottery. Prior to the Revolution this was the practice, but in 1826 it required approval of the legislature. Jefferson's financial situation was precarious. In 1823 his debts totaled over $40,000, while his farms brought in a mere $10,000 yearly. Besides being the patriarch of a large clan, Jefferson entertained constantly at Monticello, and the cost of maintaining a county gentleman's life-style was becoming unsupportable.

Shortly after his letter to Madison, a lottery bill was passed, but by that time news of Jefferson's financial straits had spread throughout the country, and people began sending gifts of money to their former President. Over $16,000 was raised in the 3 cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore alone. Jefferson called this a pure and unsolicited offering of love, adding, "I have spent 3 times as much money and given my whole life to my countrymen and now they nobly come forward, in the only way they can, to repay me and save an old servant from being turned like a dog out of doors."

Apr. 8 Henry Clay and John Randolph fought a duel in Virginia. Neither was injured. Randolph had accused Clay of being corrupt.

July 4 At 12:50 P.M. on this 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson died. Hours later another signer, former President John Adams, died at his Quincy, Mass., home. Now only one of the document's signers, Charles Carroll, remained alive.

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