Once political enemies, they became close friends in later life. Both served in the Continental Congress. One was elected the second President and the other elected the third. An awe swept America when they died on the same day, JULY 4, 1826, exactly 50 years since they both signed the Declaration of Independence. Their names were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In his Second Annual Message to Congress, December 5, 1826, President John Quincy Adams stated: "Since your last meeting at this place, the fiftieth anniversary of the day when our independence was declared...two of the principal actors in that solemn scene - the hand that penned the ever-memorable Declaration and the voice that sustained it in debate - were by one summons, at the distance of 700 miles from each other, called before the Judge of All to account for their deeds done upon earth." President John Quincy Adams added in an Executive Order, July 11, 1826: "A coincidence...so wonderful gives confidence... that the patriotic efforts of these...men were Heaven directed, and furnishes a new...hope that the prosperity of these States is under the special protection of a kind Providence."