Fifty years to the date after signing the Declaration of Independence our third president, Thomas Jefferson, died on July 4, 1826—just hours before the death of his fellow signer John Adams. Just six years earlier, Jefferson completed an 84-page manuscript he called the “Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” Gleaned from the four Gospels of the New Testament, and Jefferson’s private work, it remained unknown until his great-granddaughter sold the manuscript to the Smithsonian Institution in 1895. In 2011, the Smithsonian undertook a challenging restoration project of the fragile document, and what is now known as the “Jefferson Bible” was presented to scholars and the general public at the Smithsonian’s Albert H. Small Documents Gallery.
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