The odds that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826

American history says that two former presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on July 4, 1826, fifty years after signing the Declaration of Independence. I’ve long wondered about that. I took classes in college on the subject of statistics, but the problem was that I was having a testosterone storm centered on a certain girl, and my mental capacities were shut down. I eked out a C and remember very little.

Fortunately, others of more steadfast makeup took those courses and can do that work. Kevin Knudson of Forbes Magazine is one. He wrote about it here.

Since 1826 was not a leap year, the odds of the two men dying on the same day are simply 1/365. Even that is unlikely … would you bet a horse with those odds? It is by itself daunting.

But Knudson goes a little deeper yet. The men were of different ages, Adams 90, Jefferson 83. Those are long lives for that era: The odds that Jefferson would live to be 83 against a 65 norm would be 17.9%, or about one  in five. For Adams, age 90, it is even more unlikely, about 13%. Since the two deaths were independent of one another, we can multiply those odds together, yielding a 2.5% likelihood of them both being alive in 1826. Multiply that by 1/365 of dying on the same day, and the result is a staggering 7 in 100,000 that it really happened.

I take it one step further … 7 in 100,000 is the odds that they died on ANY day in 1826. But July 4 was not just any day. It was a special day, a hyped day, one of exceptional historical significance overshadowing all other 364 days. I add yet another 1/365 likelihood to this equation, making the odds of those two deaths on that particular  day 7 in 36,500,000, or 1 in 5,200,000.

I am not betting that horse. Statistics never say something is impossible. But in this case I am suggesting either a mutual suicide pact, or a hoax with bodies kept on ice until the appropriate patriotic death day rolled around – or one or both men simply disappearing from public view at that time. It happens now, and so could happen then.

It most likely did not happen the way we are told. I am not betting that horse.

22 thoughts on “The odds that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826

  1. very interesting…I had no idea they “supposedly” died on the same day of the year – July 4th no less….smells like rotten fish to me!

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    1. Sure looks that way, the flesh tone of the two women at odds with the two men, along with shadows. But I have overthought these things before, and so do not offer anything more than an opinion that could well be wrong.

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  2. PS: 1826, “First Photograph Ever Taken,” I like to speculate, “1826: Second Photograph Ever Taken” turns out to be a paste-up. They’ve been monkeying with visual presentations of reality for so long as the means have been available. Photos presented and irresistible opportunity to do so. Just as with “If it is on TV, people think it is real,” so too “If it is a photo, people think it is real.” The photo below James Joyce et al has them briskly walking towards the camera, but none [but Joyce] looking at it. It is staged. Even then they had a notion that movement is a means of making something look real, but placement of the camera cannot be coincidental. One of them would be saying “get out if my way.” As with the scenes of the TV show House being largely built around people walking down a hallway talking, moving the story forward, motion gives the illusion of reality.

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    1. Also Joyce and the woman are tilted slightly to the left, while the railing in background is vertical. And the blown out white sidewalk doesn’t match the lower contrast on the figures.

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        1. That can happen when background is overexposed. I simply try to put myself in the shoes of the photographer … why is he perfectly placed to catch a shot of them briskly walking forward? It is possible, but these days all photos are by authorized photographers and all photos are seen before being published. Then too?

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  3. The whole “america’ thing is one big put on. Founding Fathers? Freemason/Euro Elite lineages. New World? Try armed enforcers for the (then concealed) New World Order (U.N. headquarters sits on land donated by Rockefellers) is military that is nearing it’s useless eater phase. The Jesuit Pope is nearing the final stages of a World Church based out Vatican City. He just teamed up w/Islam-Muslim leader’s, behind closed door’s. But, most will wave it off as a MM-esque fakery. Soon Iran will be attacked via nine won-won, but this time the tables will be turned on us.

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  4. From above:

    I was going to enter life easily identifying fallacies, only to learn that they are deeply embedded and hard to uncover.

    The math here is not fallacious, but I’ll suggest it is a bit misleading.

    Thanks for the nice words below. It has been a while. Wow, your views seem much more conservative than I remember. Maybe its me.

    Anyway, the topic here is better viewed as a version of the birthday problem (google it) often used to illustrate the non-intuitiveness of statistical odds. Also illustrative of how the granularity of a situation changes the odds: asking for the odds of one particular thing at one particular time is different than asking if that thing will ever occur at some time.

    The likelihood listed here is as if someone had stood up in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 and announced that Jefferson and Adams would both pass on July 4, 1826; long odds indeed. But it is better viewed as asking, “in the next fifty years, what is likelihood that two of the assembled 56 will expire on the same day?” That turns out to be around a one in eleven chance, making it much less surprising.

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    1. I am returning to my roots, true conservatism and not right wing reactionism. I bristle at things I hear and read about Ayn Rand and “free markets” and the evils of socialized medicine, as the conservatives are not squared up on those issues, deflecting most of the real-world problems. But I am comfortable around them, far more than with liberals.

      A commenter once pointed out to me that the odds of a golf ball hitting a particular blade of grass are staggering! No, they are not. Those odds are 1:1, as that is an incident. If the next ball then hits the same blade of grass, that is COincident, and indeed the odds are staggering.

      Your one in eleven is the odds that two people in a room of x number of people will share a birthday. That is mathematically easy to see, far less than 1/365. However, add to that incident that both men were presidents, descended from British royalty, signers of the Declaration, living to ripe old age, and then dying on the same day, that day happening to be the same day that the Declaration was supposedly signed (7+4=11), and the odds are, again, staggering.

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      1. I’ll admit the math loses me somewhat, viewing it from different angles as Fred suggests… Spin it however one wants though, two icons dying on an iconic date, helping to prop up the myth of cosmic specialness required to found a nation (hence: motive) ain’t just a little bit fishy.

        Wrt liberals and conservatives, to me the conservatives retain some shred of healthy peasant common sense. Of intuitive resistance to innovation from the high priests of transhumanism and techno whatever. Whereas the liberals are zombie bots screaming “Engineer me! Shape me into whatever form you desire, sculpt me, mold me, so that I may better serve your slavetopia… Make me the perfect cog in the machine you are building. Even if I’m just a transitional form on the way to the machine man of the future…”

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      2. add… that both men were _____, descended from ______, signers of the _____, ______, and then _______, ________, and the odds are, again, staggering.

        Have some care here. One can multiply probabilities together and get an arbitrarily large number; that doesn’t make it a controlling factor. For that matter, the odds are 1/365 that you could be born on any particular day; but they are 1/31.5 million that you could be born on any particular second; 1/10^17 that you could be born on any particular nanosecond; pretty soon the denominator is so large you realize the odds are zero that you will be born at all.

        I found a nice video to illustrate this, but it looks like comments can’t have hot links.

        If the next ball then hits the same blade of grass, that is COincident, and indeed the odds are staggering.

        This requires a quibble, in that golfers tend to have the same swing in the same direction: the same blades tend to get all the action.

        It might have been here, back in the day, where it was noted in pro baseball someone in the stands caught two home run balls in the same game, with an ensuing calculation that the odds were staggering that one person of the 30,000 in attendance would be blessed with two random events in one night. But pros, with their practiced swings, are quite likely to repeat a blast to the same area. Home run balls are not dropped from the sky to fall on a random fan.

        Back to Adams and Jefferson, I wasn’t aware of their coincident deaths being used as a narrative building lesson. It didn’t apparently take too strongly, anyway, as the entire founding of the country is being un-personed today, slavery and all that, in favor of various people-of-color having a greater claim to the resources of the earth, so make way for more people, more scars upon the land.

        As for the calculations, it is the odds of two people out of 56 having the same birthday in a year of 18,250 days, which is fifty(years) times three sixty five(days). One out of eleven. Check it.

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        1. The odds of being born on any given day or at any given second are 1:1. The odds of two random people meeting on the street who were born at the same second are staggering. The odds are that if you have a large group of people and ask them to name their birthdays one by one, by the time you get to 20 you will have hit a duplicate. Don’t know those odds, but very low.

          The “staggering” odds of the same person catching two home run balls are lowered considerably by his seat location, the pitchers and players, his assertiveness and athletic ability. Even so, it is a long long shot.

          The only thing that prevents us from multiplying variables together is if they are not independent. Adams and Jefferson lived to 1826 independently. That they both signed the Declaration, both were descended from British royalty, both were presidents, might be less independent as such things are usually not accidental ,,, that is, all our presidents are descended from royalty, none become president by accident, and that gathering of patriots signing that document on 7/4 (=11) is suspicious, that is, I have my doubts our revolution was anything more than a controlled exercise allowing us to think we broke free. Still, even just multiplying the odds of dying on the same day, and that day being July 4, are 1:133,225. We don’t need more than that to raise a skeptical eyebrow.

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    1. As I like to remind people, Jews may rule the world, but it could be worse. It could be the Irish. All the Jews I have known in my life have been honest, sincere, educated.[A limited number for this Catholic boy raised in Montana, I should add.]

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      1. What royal family was Reagan from? I haven’t met a Jewish person in my area that agrees with the MMC of the Nazis being gay Jewish actors. You would think they would know yet they don’t, so it seems that event is used for fear mongering their own.

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        1. Greg, Just because not one person from “your” area does not know something does not mean much of anything. Is that your evidence? If so, it is pretty weak! No offense!

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      2. Is there a presumption that some group, any group, should “rule the world?” If so, there does that come from? Does that somehow fit within the realm of “human nature,” or are other alternatives possibilities for the future?

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      3. I really do not care if they are Jewish or Irish. I have known many wonderful people from all sorts of races and I have know some not so great. That is not the point and it could not be worse just by changing the race. Being manipulated is wrong, no matter if the person is Jewish or Irish. Anyone who insists on defending them is just being a narcissist because they are Jewish and protective of themselves. Do not let TPTB off the hook just because you are from the same race.

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        1. The problem I have with this is WalMart … the underclasses all around us, whom I regard as simply underdeveloped people. They need a sense of purpose, and our system, even if run by your TPTB, reasonably gives them the ability to eke out a living and if they play it right, in the end, own a small home and have monthly income. I have struggled with this, during my liberal phase imagining them dignified serfs and work slaves, but then running for office being underwhelmed, meeting hundreds (maybe thousands) of them one-on-one, seeing that they lived by the blue glow of light coming through their windows at dusk as I worked the doors (TV), and that if they were going to come alive intellectually and spiritually, they would have to break free of that control. It does not happen. But we don’t abuse them. We let them lead decent if small lives. Your “TPTB” are not monsters, as I see it. They are just indifferent managers of the herd [trying via psyops to keep numbers under control?]

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          1. Carol no offense because it isn’t “evidence” just my local experience. Some of the comments morph into other issues, suck us in, and a never ending discussion takes place. Back on point, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the same day. What a remarkable coincidence!

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