House of the Temple: Photo Collection

I found this on YouTube and thought I'd share it.  It's a collection of photos takes of the House of the Temple in Washington D.C.  Just beautiful.  Kind of an interesting choice in music as well . . .

Freemasons And Beer

Of course when you think of Freemasons and beer, most people think of one Freemason in particular.  Samuel Adams.

And rightly so.  The Samuel Adams Brewery produces in my opinion (which is backed up by years of extensive field research) some of the most finely crafted beers in America.  But in reality, all evidence seems to discount the fact that Samuel Adams was a brewer. Sam Adams was a malter--he worked in a malthouse which produced malt that was used in beer, but he was not a brewer himself.  But he was a great American Patriot, a Founding Father, and also a man that enjoyed a nice dark ale.

You might even think about Benjamin Franklin.  He was a man that enjoyed all the pleasures that life had to offer, and sometimes to excess as he would be the first to admit.  He also coined the famous quote that all beer drinkers know by heart, and share enthusiastically the sentiment.

But in reality, it was George Washington that perhaps knew his beer better than any other of the Founding Fathers.  And after the Revolutionary War, George Washington had a strictly "Buy American" policy about beer as he told his friend Lafayette in a letter, "We have already been too long subject to British prejudices. I use no porter or cheese in my family, but such as is made in America; both these articles may now be purchased of an excellent quality."

George Washington bought his porter from a brewer in Philadelphia.  In fact, it was his secretary's job to make sure he was well supplied when he returned to Mount Vernon.  Washington's secretary, Tobias Lear once wrote to the brewer:

Washington's Beer Recipe

"Will you be so good as to desire Mr. Hare to have if he continues to make the best Porter in Philadelphia 3 gross of his best put up for Mount Vernon? as the President means to visit that place in the recess of Congress and it is probable there will be a large demand for Porter at that time."

I take that to mean that when George was home, it was important to make sure the fridge was well-stocked with cold beer.  Of course, if George ran it, all wasn't necessarily lost--he had his own beer recipe. 

That's right, it wasn't Sam Adams that was the brewer, it was George Washington.  In fact, he wasn't only a home brewer, he was a distiller as well.  In 1799, Mount Vernon was the largest producer of rye whiskey in the United States.

Ever since the birth of our nation, beer has been the beverage of choice for Americans.  In fact, at a large parade in Philadelphia that celebrated the ratification of the Constitution, several of the local brewers marched in the parade under a banner that read:  "Ale--proper drink for Americans."

Famous Freemason: Marquis de Lafayette

"Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country."
~Marquis de Lafayette

This week in 1777, a 19-year-old French aristocrat, Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, accepted a commission as a major-general in the Continental Army.

He was recruited to serve in the Continental Army in France by Silas Deane, and an agreement was struck with French military expert, Baron Johann DeKalb, and his protege, the Marquis de Lafayette, to offer their military knowledge and experience to the American cause. Of course, as it turns out, the young Lafayette had no military experience, but was more than willing to learn. 

But King Louis XVI feared angering Britain by sending aid to America and prohibited Lafayette's departure. The British ambassador to the French court at Versailles demanded the seizure of Lafayette's ship, which resulted in Lafayette's arrest. Lafayette managed to escape, set sail and elude two British ships dispatched to recapture him. Following his safe arrival in South Carolina, Lafayette traveled to Philadelphia, expecting to be made General George Washington's second-in-command. Congress was reluctant to promote him over more experienced colonial officers because of his age and inexperience, but the young Frenchman's willingness to volunteer his services without pay won their respect and Lafayette was commissioned as a major-general.

Lafayette and Washington
Lafayette served at Brandywine in 1777, as well as Barren Hill, Monmouth and Rhode Island in 1778. Following the formal treaty of alliance with Lafayette's native France in February 1778 and Britain's subsequent declaration of war, Lafayette asked to return to Paris and consult the king as to his future service.  He earned the respect and friendship of General George Washington, and that friendship endured for the rest of Washington's life--in fact, Lafayette named his son after General Washington.

On the topic of Freemasonry, it has been disputed for two centuries where Lafayette became a Mason. There are no definitive records showing exactly when and where Lafayette was initiated. Lafayette was a hero of both the American Revolutionary War and later two French revolutions. Freemasons from both countries are anxious to claim him as their own. French Masonic scholars believe he was made a Mason in France prior to coming to American and enlisting in the Continental army. However, the most widely accepted and best supported belief is that Lafayette was made a Mason after coming to America, most likely after meeting George Washington. This version is supported by Lafayette’s own writings. American Masonic scholars place the time of the initiation during the winter of 1777-78 when Washington’s army was wintering over at Valley Forge. It is believed that General George Washington himself may have acted as Master of the Lodge during Lafayette’s initiation ceremony.

Dr. George W. Chaytor was a noted Masonic scholar and past master. Addressing the Lafayette Lodge No. 14 in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 18, 1875, on the occasion of the lodge’s fiftieth anniversary of its constitution, he made the following statement on the subject of Lafayette’s admission into the Masonic order:

He [Lafayette] was not a Mason when he landed in America, nor was he a Mason at the Battle of Brandywine. The Army under Washington, in December, 1777, retired to Valley Forge, where they wintered. Connected with the Army was a Lodge. It was at Valley Forge that he was made a Mason. On this point there should be no second opinion—for surely Lafayette knew best where he was made a Mason.
Lafayette’s own remarks do support the fact he was made a Mason in America, after having met General George Washington. Lafayette said, “After I was made a Mason, General Washington seemed to have received a new light—I never had, from that moment, any cause to doubt his entire confidence. It was not long before I had a separate command of great importance.”


Freemasons In Space

The end of an era as Atlantis lifts off one last time
When the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down on Thursday, it ended America's longest running spaceflight program.  "After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle's earned its place in history. And it's come to a final stop," radioed commander Christopher Ferguson as Atlanta rolled to a stop.  "Job well done, America," came the reply from Mission Control.

Atlantis lands for the last time

Oddly enough, the grand finale of the Space Shuttle program came to an end fifty years to the day that Astronaut Gus Grissom became the second American in space on July 21, 1961.  John Glenn had been there first, only a few months before.  Although Gus Grissom wasn't first, he would be the first American to make two trips into space.  John Glenn would eventually receive that honor, but it would take him a few years to get back into space--37 years to be exact.  He returned to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery at the age of 77. 

Gus Grissom

But both men shared something besides being amongst America's first astronauts--they were both Freemasons.  John Glenn is a member of Concord Lodge No. 688 in Ohio, and Gus Grissom was a member of Mitchell Lodge No. 288 in Indiana.  In fact, many of America's early astronauts were Freemasons, including Buzz Aldrin, Gordon Cooper, Don Eisele, Fred Haise, Edgar Mitchell, Wally Schirra, Thomas Stafford, James Webb, and Paul Weitz.

Many of these brave men were pilots before they were astronauts--several flew fighters in World War II and the Korean War.  They were a unique breed of fearless adventures that while understanding the risks, were willing to take them in order to achieve the gains.  And the men and women that followed aboard the Space Shuttles shared that same unique spirit. 

The future of NASA is fuzzy and uncertain at this time, which is a shame.  NASA has always represented that spirit of exploration that has always been a part of the American tradition.  It would indeed be a shame if exploration of the unknown questions in our universe were abandoned by the very country that has always lead the way. 


Summer Gear: The Nearly Indestructible Tilley Endurables

I love hats. You might have picked up on that in the past. I’ve been collecting and wearing hats for years. I’ve got baseball caps, fedoras, boonies, Panamas, straw hats, bucket hats, fishing hats—I’ve even got a waxed canvas outback hat I only wear when it rains. I’ve never met a hat I don’t like.
But I’m very hard on hats, especially the summer ones. They’re either comfortable and useless for protection against the sun or they provide good protection and are hot and miserable to wear. But thanks to a tip from a friend of mine (and Brother Freemason), Terry Tillis, I think I may have found the last summer hat I’ll ever need. Terry is another hat enthusiast like me, and I’m glad I took his advice and ordered a Tilley Hat.

I got one of the Tilley Endurables (the TH4 hemp hat). This is one ruggedly built, remarkably well-designed hat. It’s obvious that a lot of thought as been put into the design, and Tilley remarked that they’ve continued to improve the hats they make year after year.

Mine is made of hemp fabric that is purportedly nearly indestructible. In fact, one of the stories told about a Tilley hat claims a zookeeper lost his hat when an elephant ate it. He got it back a few days later, washed it, and put it back to use. Apparently, his hat became one of the elephant’s favorite snacks—it happened twice more. Tilley wanted it for his hat museum, but the zookeeper refused to give it up. Just for the record, if an elephant eats my hat, I’m not waiting around to get it back.

I may have actually run across a hat that can survive even me—and if not, it comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee even if you run it through an elephant a few times. 

I’ve been putting this hat through its paces since I got it. It looked heavy at first, but the material is actually very light. It fits low on my head, and it’s very comfortable, even when I’m sweating (that’s when a lot of hats fail the comfort test). It’s got four large brass grommets that let it plenty of airflow. Two of those grommets can be used to store your sunglasses on your hat and there’s a piece of Velcro inside to secure them (someday, a scuba diver will find all my sunglasses at the bottom of Creason Pond). It also provides maximum protection against the sun earning the maximum rating—UPF 50+. There’s even a wind cord to keep in on your head on breezy fall afternoons, and just in case you’re a careless fisherman like me, and forget little things like wind cords, it also floats.

But I think my favorite feature is the full brim on the TH4 model. When you’ve got a big nose like me, the more brim on your hat, the less likely you’re going to get too much sun on your beak. Another thing about that brim that’s unique is it lays down at an angle in the back which shields your neck, and makes it perfect for driving too—you won’t keep knocking it off with the headrest. That drives me nuts so most of my brimmed hats wind up riding in the passenger seat.

There’s a good-sized pocket inside the hat too—Tilley suggested it might be useful for keeping a room key, or a credit card, or some cash when you’re out exploring on a vacation maybe. I wasn’t very impressed with that feature, but as I was working in the yard tonight, and I leaned over and my iPod fell out of my shirt pocket, pulled my ear buds out and crashed on the ground, I suddenly thought of a use for that pocket after all. My iPod fits nicely in there, and it keeps the cord out of the way while I’m working. I may have found my perfect hat.

After just a couple days, I can tell already it’s going to be my favorite hat for daily wear. I’m pretty sure, if things work out, there will be another Tilley Hat in my closet before the snow flies again—they’ve got some very nice winter hats too.


Great Summer Reads: Charles Finch

Since I've given up on the Midnight shift for a while, I've been enjoying some light summer reading.  I was a little behind on my favorite writers.  I've been chewing throught paperbacks over the last couple weeks.  Well, that's not exactly accurate since I started reading on the Nook.  What would the term be nowadays?  You can't really chew through an e-book . . . maybe I'm surfing through fiction?  I don't know.

I know I've mentioned Charles Finch before.  He's a very talented writer.  For those of you like me, that enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories, he's got a lot to offer.  It's the same Victorian era in London, his characters are well conceived, and he really weaves a fantastic story.  I just finished his last book A Stranger in Mayfair.  I was a little concerned at the end of the third book when his detective, Charles Lennox, was elected to Parliment and got married.  I thought maybe he'd jumped the shark, but it all worked very well in the last one.  I also noticed he has a fifth book scheduled for release in November 2011 A Burial at Sea so there's something to look forward to around Thanksgiving. 

Set in England in 1865, Finch's impressive debut A Beautiful Blue Death introduces an appealing gentleman sleuth, Charles Lenox. When Lady Jane Grey's former servant, Prue Smith, dies in an apparent suicide-by-poisoning, Lady Jane asks Lenox, her closest friend, to investigate. The attractive young maid had been working in the London house of George Barnard, the current director of the Royal Mint. Lenox quickly determines that Smith's death was a homicide, but both Barnard and Scotland Yard resist that conclusion, forcing him to work discreetly. Aided by his Bunter-like butler and friend, Graham, the detective soon identifies a main suspect, only to have that theory shattered by that man's murder. Finch laces his writing with some Wodehousian touches and devises a solution intricate enough to fool most readers. Lovers of quality historical whodunits will hope this is the first in a series.

As in Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four, a crime committed in India has consequences in England years later in Finch's second Victorian whodunit The September Society to feature amateur detective Charles Lenox (after 2007's A Beautiful Blue Death). Since a prologue set in 1847 India makes clear that a double murder there is connected to a murder in London in 1866, there's little mystery about the general nature of the motive behind the later crime. Lady Annabelle Payson consults the Peter Wimsey–like Lenox after the disappearance of her Oxford undergraduate son, George, who left behind in his college room a dead cat and a note referring to the September Society. When George turns up dead as well, Lenox vows to track down the killer, aided by his manservant, the Bunter-like Graham. While neither the prose nor the puzzle are at the level of A Beautiful Blue Death, that volume showed enough promise to suggest that the author is capable of better in the next installment.

The near simultaneous murders on Christmas night of two giants of Fleet Street—Daily Telegraph writer Winston Carruthers and Daily News editor Simon Pierce—rock 1866 London in Finch's absorbing third historical The Fleet Street Murders (after 2008's The September Society). These sensational crimes disturb holiday festivities at the Mayfair home of amateur detective Charles Lenox, who jumps at the chance to further his crime-solving career. In the meantime, Lenox's restless fiancĂ©e, Lady Jane Grey, may delay their impending nuptials while Lenox is also off running for Parliament in distant Stirrington, where he learns the seamy underside of British politics. The multifaceted case includes a coded letter, wartime espionage, a gang slaying, bribery and eavesdropping, making it all fearfully complicated in the words of Inspector Jenkins of Scotland Yard. An exciting boat chase on the Thames leads to a slightly incongruous happy ending.

Set in 1860s London, Finch's fourth mystery featuring gentleman detective Charles Lenox A Stranger in Mayfair (after 2009's The Fleet Street Murders) finds Lenox newly married to his longtime friend, Lady Jane Grey, and newly elected to Parliament. When Ludovic Starling, a slight acquaintance, asks Lenox to look into the bludgeoning murder of his footman, Frederick Clarke, Lenox, who wonders why Starling hasn't called in Scotland Yard, at first declines. In the end, despite the demands of his new vocation, Lenox agrees to help. The investigator, who's troubled to learn that Starling has been less than forthright with him, can't accept the police theory that a rival servant killed Clarke. Finch equips Lenox with his own Bunter in the person of a former butler turned political secretary, but the pair come across as weak, warmed-over versions of the golden age Dorothy Sayers originals. Portentous chapter endings undermine the otherwise solid prose.

Give 'em a try--I think you'll enjoy them.


Ansar Shrine: It's All About the Kids

It was my great priviledge on Saturday, along with twelve others, to become a Noble in the Ansar Shrine (that's me, fourth from the right).  Ansar Shrine was chartered in 1915, and of the 193 Shrine Temples, Ansar was the 136th to be chartered, but it has grown to be the 17th largest in size. 

Meeting Ansar Potentate Scott Shuette
It was great fun, and I not only knew a lot of the members there, but I met a lot of new friends as well.  They put on a fantastic lunch, catered by one of the best BBQ places in town--the Hickory River Smokehouse

I'm really looking forward to being involved.  I've been writing about Famous American Freemasons for years, and over and over again, I've noted just how many of those men were members of the Shrine.  There's a reason for that.  The Shriner's are all about helping kids.  The Shriners Hospitals are one of the best examples of what Freemasonry is all about.  And I heard it over and over again on Saturday--it's all about the kids.

Looking forward to spending some time learning more about the work the Shriner's do, and getting more involved.  And of course, I'll be spending a little time with the Illini Shrine Club right here close to home. 

And by the way--you guys were right.  The wife loves the fez!


From The Secretary's Table . . .

This picture really creeps out my wife . . .
As I said earlier in the week, I've gotten a little run down doing double duty between my real job, and being a writer.  I've decided to take a little break from writing books, and focus for a awhile on being a better husband and father, and getting back to the basics in my lodge.  In the process I hope to find a little of that inspiration again I found in the beginning that got me writing book after book after book . . .

Well, I had a really good time last night at my montly lodge meeting.  I served as Secretary of my lodge for the first time.  In fact, I've been having a really good time for the last month digging through the dusty records of our lodge.

For a history buff, there might not be a better job in a Masonic lodge than that of Secretary.  Not only are you the keeper of the ancient records, you are the recorder of the new ones.  I've been digging through our records for a month.  We have detailed records of our lodge that go back to 1877.  I've found many lost historical treasurers within our archives. 

Most people probably wouldn't realize this, but Masonic Lodges are often repositories for community history.  I've found all kinds of interesting things (well, interesting to me anyway).  Birth announcements, newspaper articles, photographs, committee reports, meeting minutes . . .  I'm sure I'll tell you more about some of that later.  But I'll tell you about one thing I found that I found particularly interesting, and I was able to save.

I'm not sure where this print came from originally.  I found it sitting with a stack of stuff behind our Secretary's desk.  We merged with another lodge a couple years ago.  It might have come from there or it might have come from one of the lodges that merged with them years earlier. 

I have no idea, but I found this print, in an old wood frame.  And it was a mess.  You could hardly see the picture from decades of dirt and grime on the frame and glass.  I took it home, thinking if I cleaned the frame and the glass we might be able to display it again.

Well that helped, but the print was damaged too.  It had gotten wet at some point.  It was water-stained, and it was badly warped.  So I ironed it out, scanned it, and went to work on it in photoshop.  I was able to remove the waterstains, and the worst of the tears and blemishes on the print too.  I improved the print sparingly--I wasn't trying to restore it to new condition, I wanted to maintain that aged appearance.  I was trying to just fix the damage that made it unsuitable for display.

I think I did pretty well.  I reprinted it on photo paper, reframed it in the orignal frame with the original behind it, and it looks amazing.  This is an artist representation of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Washington D.C. from the 1920s.  It's probably not that rare--I'd imagine there are a lot of these out there. 

My guess is, somebody probably visited the memorial and brought this print back to their lodge for display back when the memorial was still new.  I'm going to make some copies for the members of our lodge to enjoy.  I have one hanging in my office.  If you want one, let me know.  I'd be happy to send you the JPEG, and you can print one out for yourself.  You can do with it what you will.  It's a beautiful piece of artwork from our past.  A little treasure I found in the dusty and musty archives of my lodge--and I hope to see it hanging again soon.


Time To Find A New Direction

I had a rather odd conversation with my friend William J. Hussey the other night--of course all my conversations with Bill Hussey over the years have been somewhat odd.  That's why I talk to him.  There are few friends I've met during my travels in Freemasonry that entertain me more. 

Anyway, our conversation got me thinking about a few things.  Ever since I became a Master Mason back in 2005, I've been writing about Freemasons, and talking about the Craft.  I was so inspired in the very beginning, I had a lot to say about it--five books in six years is a pretty impressive amount of work.  I couldn't guess how many speeches and articles I've written on top of that.  And I also edit and write pieces for a joint newsletter for my lodge and another local lodge.  I've worked double shifts five or six nights a week for nearly seven years now.  And I've gotten a lot out of it.

But for some time, my enthusiasm has begun to ebb somewhat.  These late night shifts have taken a toll on me.  I finished my second novel over Labor Day, and since then I've been researching another book about Freemasonry, and I just can't seem to get it to work, and I'm really not that excited about it.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great idea, I'm just tired.  Looking back at my blog over the last several months (okay, it began to flag about a year ago), it's pretty obvious I haven't exactly been at the top of my form with it either and the hit counts demonstrate I'm beginning to lose the interest of my readers.  It's gotten harder and harder over time to find things I'm truly interested in writing about.  I've fallen into a deep rut, and it seems like I'm just doing the same things over and over again.  I need to find a new direction, and I've known that for awhile now.  I just wasn't sure what direction to take.

I figured it all out the other night after talking to Bill.  I've spent too much time over the years writing about Freemasonry from behind a desk, and not nearly enough time actually enjoying it like I did in the beginning.  That's what first inspired me, so why did I stop doing that? 

The answer is fairly simple--its time.  There's only so much of it.  It's that 24-inch gauge that's kicking my butt.  Researching and writing is enormously time consuming, and it doesn't leave much spare time to do the very thing I've so enjoyed writing about.  I made a choice. 

So I'm going to quit working on books, at least for a while, and spend a little more time with my brothers.  Let my batteries recharge for awhile while I get back to the basics.  Maybe during this little hiatus I'll run across something, like I did in the beginning, that grabs my attention and won't let go.  Something I find so fascinating to me that I'll have to write about it.  In the meantime, be assured that if I do run across anything interesting in my travels, I'll be sure and tell you about it on here.  I've got a few new adventures beginning--I'm sure I'll have a few thoughts here and there.

I'm nearly at the end of my last night shift for what could be some time.  It's going to be a hard habit to break, but I think it's time to turn out the light and go to bed for a change.  We'll see what tomorrow has to offer. 

It brings to mind one of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite Freemasons:

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.  Comes into us at midnight very clean.  It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands.  It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."

~ John Wayne


Who Are The Shriners?

We've all seen them--wearing their red fezzes and entertaining the crowds at parades.  You may have even gone to a Shriner's Circus at one time or another.  And almost everyone knows about the important work they do helping children through the Shriner's Hospitals.  Most of us know they're a fun-loving group of men, that have a lot of fun while they raise money for much more serious causes.

But what a lot of people still don't know, is that Shriners are Masons.  That's right.  Every Shriner is a Master Mason, but not every Master Mason is a Shriner.  The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, most commonly known as the the Shriners, is an appendant body of Freemasonry. 

The Shriners were formed in 1870, by a group of Masons that met for lunch at Knickerbocker Cottage in Manhattan, at a special table on the second floor. They had an idea for a new fraternity for Masons stressing fun and fellowship. Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. Florence took the idea seriously enough to act upon it.

Florence was a world-renowned actor, and while on tour, he was invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The exotic style, flavor and music of this Arabian themed party gave Florence an idea. He took many notes and made drawings of the costumes and decorations.  When he returned, Fleming took the ideas supplied by Florence and converted them into what would become the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.).   That's where the Arabic and Egyptian themes came from originally.

Harry S Truman
Over the years, I've written about a lot of famous Shriners in my Famous American Freemasons books.  There's quite an impressive list of famous Shriners.  There are military leaders, politicians, actors, musicians, industrialists, astronauts, athletes, writers, comedians . . . in fact, there have been a few Shriners over the years that have called The White House home. 

One thing I didn't know about the Shriner's Hospitals, was that originally, their focus was on treatment of polio.  Since that disease has been for the most part eradicated with the polio vaccine, they shifted to helping children with birth defects like cleft palate, the treatment of spinal chord injuries, and burns.  Much of their work focuses on research.  In fact, many of the standard treatments for burns in burn units across the country originated in Shriner's Hospitals for Children.

There are currently about 325,000 Shriners in 194 Temples in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany, the Phillipines, Puerto Rico, and the Republic of Panama. 

I'm looking forward to making that 325,001.  There's a red fez in my future.  You think they'll let me drive one of those little cars in a parade? Actually, my Ford Focus is about that same size--I'll just drive that.


Famous American Freemasons Now Available at iBookstore

As of last week, all three of my nonfiction titles, Famous American Freemasons, Famous American Freemasons: Volume II, and A Freemason Said That?  Great Quotes of Famous Freemasons have been made available through iBookstore.  You can now download them and read them on your iPad, your iPod, or your iPhone. 

And very shortly, my novel One Last Shot should also be available at iBookstore.

One This Day in History: July 4, 1826

It is a remarkable coincedence that two American Presidents died on exactly the same day.  It becomes even more unusual that it was the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, a document both of the men had signed.  But it's true.  Thomas Jefferson, the second President of the United States, and John Adams, the third President, both died on July 4th, 1826.  They were both friends, and political adversaries.  John Adams last words were "Thomas Jefferson still survives."  Little did Adams know at the time, but his friend Thomas Jefferson was in the same boat he was.

After July 4, 1776, Adams traveled to France as a diplomat, where he proved instrumental in winning French support for the Patriot cause, and Jefferson returned to Virginia, where he served as state governor during the dark days of the American Revolution. After the British defeat at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, Adams was one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris that ended the war, and with Jefferson he returned to Europe to try to negotiate a U.S.-British trade treaty.

After the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, Adams was elected vice president to George Washington, and Jefferson was appointed secretary of state. During Washington's administration, Jefferson, with his democratic ideals and concept of states' rights, often came into conflict with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who supported a strong federal government and conservative property rights. Adams often arbitrated between Hamilton and his old friend Jefferson, though in politics he was generally allied with Hamilton.

In 1796, Adams defeated Jefferson in the presidential election, but the latter became vice president, because at that time the office was still filled by the candidate who finished second. As president, Adams' main concern was America's deteriorating relationship with France, and war was only averted because of his considerable diplomatic talents. In 1800, Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans (the forerunner of the Democratic Party) defeated the Federalist party of Adams and Hamilton, and Adams retired to his estate in Quincy, Massachusetts.

As president, Jefferson reduced the power and expenditures of the central government but advocated the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, which more than doubled the size of the United States. During his second administration, Jefferson faced renewed conflict with Great Britain, but he left office before the War of 1812 began. Jefferson retired to his estate in Monticello, Virginia, but he often advised his presidential successors and helped establish the University of Virginia. Jefferson also corresponded with John Adams to discuss politics, and these famous letters are regarded as masterpieces of the American enlightenment.