Over the past few years, I can't help but take not of the fact that there seems to have been a major shift in the way both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams have been perceived. Obviously the hit HBO drama on the life of John Adams has done much to bolster this one time self-defeating founder. As Adams himself put it, "History will remember very little of me...I will have no monuments."
While it is true that John Adams was once considered a "lesser" of the Founding Fathers, recent events and research have propelled Adams to a higher level of recognition and appreciation. On the flip side, the once prominent Thomas Jefferson has witnessed a decrease in his popularity. The man who was once hailed as the greatest political mind of his era is now being remembered more for his views on religion and slavery. Jefferson's lack of Christian orthodoxy, combined with his views on slavery (not to mention the huge impact of the Sally Hemmings affair) have caused Jefferson to slip a little.
Is this fair? Should we promote Adams at the expense of Jefferson?
If there is one thing I've learned from these two men it's that they are virtually polar opposites from one another. When we compare Adams and Jefferson, we are often comparing North v. South, Puritan v. Anglican, Federalist v. Republican, aristocrat v. farmer, passionate v. reserved. I guess it would only be natural for one man's stock to go down as the other's went up. With that said, however, I feel that both men deserve to be judged not against one another, but solely on their own merits.