Founding Fathers of the United States
   HOME

TheInfoList



The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers or Founders, were a group of
American revolutionary Patriots (also known as Revolutionaries, Continentals, Rebels, or American Whigs) were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and United States Declaration of Independence, declared th ...
leaders who united the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
, led the war for independence from
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
, and built a
frame of government A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of Legal entity, entity and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed. When ...

frame of government
for the new
United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five major , 326 , and some . At , it is the world's . The United States shares significan ...

United States of America
upon
classical liberalism Classical liberalism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosopher ...
and
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
principles during the later decades of the 18th century. The phrase ''Founding Fathers'' was coined by Senator
Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
in 1916. In 1973, historian Richard B. Morris identified seven figures as key Founding Fathers:
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific stud ...

John Adams
,
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States that was negotiated on behalf of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simp ...

Benjamin Franklin
,
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
,
John Jay John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) was an American statesman, patriot, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of ...

John Jay
,
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were cr ...

Thomas Jefferson
,
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. ...

James Madison
, and
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
, based on the critical and substantive roles they played in the formation of the country's new government.Richard B. Morris, ''Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries'' (New York: Harper & Row, 1973). Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were members of the
Committee of Five'' The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress was a group of five members who drafted and presented to the full Congress what would become America's Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. This Declaration committee operated from ...

Committee of Five
that drafted the
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...

Declaration of Independence
. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were authors of ''
The Federalist Papers ''The Federalist Papers'' is a collection of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer ...
'', advocating ratification of the
Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
. The constitutions drafted by Jay and Adams for their respective states of New York (1777) and Massachusetts (1780) were heavily relied upon when creating language for the U.S. Constitution. Jay, Adams, and Franklin negotiated the Treaty of Paris that brought an end to the American Revolutionary War. Washington was
Commander-in-Chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Image:CIC-USS-CarlVinson-2001.jpg, A watchstander at her station in the combat information center of USS Carl Vinson, USS ''Carl Vinson'' in the ...
of the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land- ...
and later president of the Constitutional Convention. All held additional important roles in the early government of the United States, with Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison serving as
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
, Adams and Jefferson as
vice president A vice president, also director in British English, is an officer An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationsh ...
, Jay as the nation's first
chief justice The chief justice is the Chief judge, presiding member of a supreme court in any of many countries with a justice system based on English common law, such as the High Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of Ghana, the ...
, Hamilton as the first
Secretary of the Treasury The United States secretary of the treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with all financial and monetary matters relating to the federal government, and, until 2003, also included several major ...
, Jefferson and Madison as Secretary of State, and Franklin was America's most senior diplomat and later the governmental leader of
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
. The term Founding Fathers is sometimes more broadly used to refer to the signers of the embossed version of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, although four of the key founders – Washington, Jay, Hamilton, and Madison – were not signers. ''Signers'' is not to be confused with the term ''Framers''; the Framers are defined by the National Archives as those 55 individuals who were appointed to be delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and took part in drafting the proposed Constitution of the United States. Of the 55 Framers, only 39 were signers of the Constitution. Two further groupings of Founding Fathers include: 1) those who signed the
Continental Association The Continental Association, often known as the Association, was a detailed system created by America's First Continental Congress The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from 12 of the 13 British colonies that became the Uni ...
, a trade ban and one of the colonists' first collective volleys protesting British control and the
Intolerable Acts The Intolerable Acts were punitive laws passed by the British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dep ...
in 1774, and 2) those who signed the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
, the first U.S. constitutional document.


Background

The
First Continental Congress The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from 12 of the 13 British colonies that became the United States. It met from September 5 to October 26, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall Carpenters' Hall is the official birthplace of the C ...
met briefly in
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the of in the . It is the in the United States and the city in the state of Pennsylvania, with a 2020 population of 1,603,797. It is also the in the Northeastern U ...

Philadelphia
, Pennsylvania, in 1774, consisting of 56 delegates from twelve of the thirteen American colonies except for
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Wester ...
. Among them was George Washington, who would soon be drawn out of military retirement to command the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Also in attendance were
Patrick Henry Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736June 6, 1799) was an American attorney, planter, politician, and orator best known for his declaration to the Second Virginia Convention (1775): " Give me liberty, or give me death!" A Founding Father, he served as ...

Patrick Henry
and John Adams, who, like all delegates, were elected by their respective colonial assemblies. Other delegates included
Samuel Adams Samuel Adams ( – October 2, 1803) was an American statesman, Political philosophy, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a politician in Province of Massachusetts Bay, colonial Massachusetts, a l ...

Samuel Adams
from Massachusetts,
John Dickinson John Dickinson (November 13 Julian_calendar">/nowiki> Julian_calendar">/nowiki>Julian_calendar_November_2">Julian_calendar.html"_;"title="/nowiki>Julian_calendar">/nowiki>Julian_calendar_November_2_1732_–_February_14,_1808),_a_Founding_Fathe ...
from Pennsylvania, and New York's John Jay. This congress, in addition to formulating appeals to the British Crown, established the Continental Association to administer boycott actions against Britain. When the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
convened on May 10, 1775, it essentially reconstituted the First Congress. Many of the same 56 delegates who attended the first meeting participated in the second. New arrivals included Benjamin Franklin and
Robert MorrisRobert or Bob Morris may refer to: Politics * Robert Hunter Morris (1700–1764), Lieutenant Governor of Colonial Pennsylvania * Robert Morris (financier) (1734–1806), financier of the American Revolution and signatory to three of the United Stat ...
of Pennsylvania,
John Hancock John Hancock ( – October 8, 1793) was an American Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot (American Revolution), Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as President of the Co ...

John Hancock
of Massachusetts,
John Witherspoon John Witherspoon (February 5, 1723 – November 15, 1794) was a Scottish Americans, Scottish American Presbyterian minister and a Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father of the United States. Witherspoon embraced the concepts of Sc ...

John Witherspoon
of New Jersey, and
Charles Carroll of Carrollton Charles Carroll (September 19, 1737 – November 14, 1832), known as Charles Carroll of Carrollton or Charles Carroll III to distinguish him from his similarly-named relatives, was an American statesman, a wealthy Maryland Maryland ( ) is ...
of Maryland. Hancock was elected Congress president two weeks into the session when
Peyton Randolph Peyton Randolph (September 10, 1721 – October 22, 1775) was a planter and public official from the Colony of Virginia. He served as Speaker (politics), Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, president of Virginia Conventions, and the first ...

Peyton Randolph
was recalled to Virginia to preside over the
House of Burgesses The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the State legislature (United States), legislative body of the Virginia, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest con ...
.
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were cr ...

Thomas Jefferson
replaced Randolph in the Virginia congressional delegation. The second Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon was the only active clergyman to sign the Declaration. He also signed the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
and attended the New Jersey (1787) convention that ratified the Federal Constitution. The newly founded country of the United States had to create a new government to replace their governance by the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
. The U.S. adopted the Articles of Confederation, a declaration that established a national government with a one-house legislature. Its ratification by all thirteen colonies gave the second Congress a new name: the
Congress of the Confederation The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly kno ...
, which met from 1781 to 1789. The Constitutional Convention took place during the summer of 1787, in Philadelphia. Although the convention was called to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset for some including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton was to create a new frame of government rather than amending the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the convention. The result of the convention was the United States Constitution and the replacement of the Continental Congress with the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with ...

United States Congress
.


List of Founding Fathers

Among the state documents
promulgated Promulgation is the formal proclamation or the declaration that a new statute, statutory or administrative law is enacted after its final Enactment of a bill, approval. In some jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions, this additional step is necessary b ...
between 1774 and 1789 by the Continental Congress, four are paramount: the Continental Association (CA) , the
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...

Declaration of Independence
(DI) , the Articles of Confederation (AC), and the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...
(USC). Altogether, 145 men signed at least one of the four documents. In each instance, roughly 50% of the names signed are unique to that document. Six men signed three of the four documents, and only
Roger Sherman Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793) was an early American statesman and lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in ever ...
of Connecticut signed all of them. The following persons are considered Founding Fathers of the United States of America, including some who did not sign a formative document: Notes:


Social background and commonalities

The Founding Fathers represented a cross-section of 18th-century U.S. leadership. According to a study of the biographies by Caroline Robbins: They were leaders in their communities; several were also prominent in national affairs. Virtually all participated in the American Revolution; at the Constitutional Convention at least 29 had served in the Continental Army, most of them in positions of command.


Education

Many of the Founding Fathers attended or graduated from the
colonial colleges The colonial colleges are nine institutions of higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an opt ...
, most notably
Columbia Columbia may refer to: * Columbia (personification), the historical female national personification of the United States, and a poetic name for the Americas Places North America Natural features * Columbia Plateau, a geologic and geographic regio ...

Columbia
(known at the time as "King's College"),
Princeton Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...

Princeton
originally known as "The College of New Jersey",
Harvard Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

Harvard
,
Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United States. The term ''Ivy ...
, the
University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a in , Pennsylvania. The university, established as the College of Philadelphia in 1740, is one of the nine chartered prior to the . , Penn's founder and first president, advocated an edu ...

University of Pennsylvania
, and the
College of William and Mary The College of William & Mary (also known as William & Mary, W&M, and officially The College of William and Mary in Virginia) is a public university, public research university in Williamsburg, Virginia. Founded in 1693 by letters patent issued ...

College of William and Mary
. Some had previously been home schooled or obtained early instruction from private tutors or academies. Others had studied abroad. Ironically, Franklin who had little formal education, would ultimately establish the
College of Philadelphia The College and Academy of Philadelphia was a secondary school and later university located in Philadelphia. It was founded in 1749 by a group of local notables that included Benjamin Franklin and initially included a "charity school" that taught ...

College of Philadelphia
(1755); "Penn" would have the first medical school (1765) in the thirteen colonies where another Founder, Rush, would eventually teach. With a limited number of professional schools established in the colonies, Founders also sought advanced degrees from traditional institutions in England and Scotland such as the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in ) is a in , . Granted a by King in 1582 and officially opened in 1583, it is one of Scotland's and the in continuous op ...
, the
University of St Andrews (Aien aristeuein) , motto_lang = grc , mottoeng = Ever to ExcelorEver to be the Best , established = , type = Public university, Public university, research university/ancient university , endowment = Pound sterling, £95.6 million , bud ...
, and the
University of Glasgow , image_name = University_of_Glasgow_Coat_of_Arms.jpg , image_size = 150px , latin_name = Universitas Glasguensis , motto = la, Via, Veritas, Vita ''Via et veritas et vita'' (, ) is a Latin language, Latin phrase meaning "the way and the t ...

University of Glasgow
.


Colleges attended

* College of William and Mary: Jefferson, Harrison * Harvard College: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Hancock and William Williams * King's College (now Columbia): Jay, Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Livingston and
Egbert Benson Egbert Benson (June 21, 1746 – August 24, 1833) was a lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in everyday speech to attorney, is t ...

Egbert Benson
. * College of New Jersey (now Princeton): Madison, Bedford, Rush, and Paterson * College of Philadelphia, later merged into the University of Pennsylvania: eight signers of the Declaration of Independence and twelve signers of the U.S. Constitution * Yale College: Wolcott and Andrew Adams * James Wilson attended the University of St Andrews and the University of Glasgow


Advanced degrees and apprenticeships


Doctors of Medicine

* University of Edinburgh: Rush * University of Utrecht, Netherlands: Hugh Williamson


Theology

* University of Edinburgh: Witherspoon (attended, no degree) * University of St Andrews: Witherspoon (honorary doctorate)


Legal apprenticeships

Several like Jay, Wilson, John Williams and Wythe were trained as lawyers through apprenticeships in the colonies while a few trained at the Inns of Court in London. Charles Carroll earned his law degree at Temple in London.


Self-taught or little formal education

Franklin, Washington, John Williams and Wisner had little formal education and were largely Autodidacticism, self-taught or learned through apprenticeship.


Demographics

The great majority were born in the Thirteen Colonies, but eighteen were born in other parts of the British Empire#"First" British Empire (1583–1783), British Empire: * England: Robert Morris, Banister, Duer, Jackson, and Gwinnett * Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland: James Smith, Butler, Fitzsimons, McHenry, Taylor, Thomson, Thornton, and Paterson * Nevis, West Indies: Hamilton and Roberdeau * Scotland: Wilson, Telfair, and Witherspoon Many of them had moved from one colony to another. Eighteen had lived, studied or worked in more than one colony: Baldwin, Bassett, Bedford, Dickinson, Few, Franklin, Ingersoll, Hamilton, Livingston, Martin, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, Read, Sherman, and Williamson. Several others had studied or traveled abroad.


Occupations

The Founding Fathers practiced a wide range of Occupational prestige, high and middle-status occupations, and many pursued more than one career simultaneously. They did not differ dramatically from the Loyalist (American Revolution), Loyalists, except they were generally younger and less senior in their professions.Greene (1973). * As many as 35 including Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and Jay were trained as lawyers though not all of them practiced law. Some had also been local judges.Brown (1976). * Washington trained as a land surveyor before he became commander of a small militia. * At the time of the convention, 13 men were merchants: Blount, Broom, Clymer, Dayton, Fitzsimons, Gilman, Gorham, Langdon, Robert Morris, Pierce, Sherman, and Wilson. * Broom and Few were small farmers. * Franklin, McHenry and Mifflin had retired from active economic endeavors. * Franklin and Williamson were scientists, in addition to their other activities. * McHenry, Rush and Williamson were physicians. * William Samuel Johnson and Witherspoon were college presidents.


Finances

In 1977, historian Caroline Robbins examined the status of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and concluded: A few of them were wealthy or had financial resources that ranged from good to excellent, but there are other founders who were less than wealthy. On the whole they were less wealthy than the Loyalists. * Seven were major land speculators: Blount, Dayton, Fitzsimmons, Gorham, Robert Morris, Washington, and Wilson. * Eleven speculated in securities on a large scale: Bedford, Blair, Clymer, Dayton, Fitzsimons, Franklin, King, Langdon, Robert Morris, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and Sherman. * Many derived income from Plantation complexes in the Southern United States, plantations or large farms which they owned or managed, which relied upon the labor of Slavery in the colonial United States, enslaved men and women particularly in the Southern colonies: Bassett, Blair, Blount, Butler, Charles Carroll, Davie,William R. Davie, Blackwell P. Robinson. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1957. Jefferson, Jenifer, Johnson, Madison, Mason, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Rutledge, Spaight, and Washington. * Eight of the men received a substantial part of their income from public office: Baldwin, Blair, Brearly, Gilman, Livingston, Madison, and Rutledge.


Prior political experience

Several of the Founding Fathers had extensive national, state, local and foreign political experience prior to the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. Some had been diplomats. Several had been members of the Continental Congress. * Franklin began his political career as a city councilman and then Justice of the Peace in Philadelphia. He was then elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly and was sent to London as a colonial agent which helped hone his diplomatic skills. * Jefferson, Adams, Jay and Franklin all acquired significant political experience as ministers to countries in Europe. * Adams and Jay drafted the constitutions of their respective states, Massachusetts and New York, and successfully navigated them through to adoption. * Jay, Mifflin and Gorham had served as president of the Continental Congress. * Gouverneur Morris had been a member of the New York Provincial Congress. * Dickinson, Franklin, Langdon, and Rutledge had been governors or presidents of their states. * Robert Morris had been a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly and president of Pennsylvania's Committees of safety (American Revolution), Committee of Safety. He was also a member of the Committee of Secret Correspondence. * Sherman had served in the Connecticut House of Representatives. * Gerry was a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. * Daniel Carroll served in the Maryland Senate. * Wythe had served as a member of Virginia's
House of Burgesses The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the State legislature (United States), legislative body of the Virginia, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest con ...
. * Read was a commissioner of Charlestown, Maryland. * Clymer was a member of the Philadelphia Committee of Safety and the Continental Congress. Nearly all of the Founding Fathers had some experience in colonial and state government, and the majority had held county and local offices. Those who lacked national congressional experience were Bassett, Blair, Brearly, Broom, Davie, Dayton, Martin, Mason, McClurg, Paterson, Charles Pinckney, and Strong.


Religion

Franklin T. Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of some of the Founders. Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 28 were Anglicanism, Anglicans (i.e. Church of England; or Episcopal Church (United States), Episcopalian, after the American Revolutionary War was won), 21 were other Protestantism, Protestant, and two were Roman Catholic (Daniel Carroll and Fitzsimons; Charles Carroll was Roman Catholic but was not a Constitution signatory). Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, eight were Presbyterianism, Presbyterians, seven were Congregational church, Congregationalists, two were Lutheranism, Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed Church, Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodism, Methodists. A few prominent Founding Fathers were Anti-clericalism, anti-clerical, notably Jefferson. Historian Gregg L. Frazer argues that the leading Founders (John Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Wilson, Morris, Madison, Hamilton, and Washington) were neither Christians nor Deism, Deists, but rather supporters of a hybrid "theistic rationalism". Many Founders deliberately avoided public discussion of their faith. Historian David L. Holmes uses evidence gleaned from letters, government documents, and second-hand accounts to identify their religious beliefs.


Slavery

The Founding Fathers were not unified on the issue of slavery. Many of them were opposed to it and repeatedly attempted to end slavery in many of the colonies, but predicted that the issue would threaten to tear the country apart and had limited power to deal with it. In her study of Jefferson, historian Annette Gordon-Reed discusses this topic, "Others of the founders held slaves, but no other founder drafted the charter for freedom".Annette Gordon-Reed, ''Engaging Jefferson: Blacks and the Founding Father'', The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Jan. 2000), pp. 171–182 In addition to Jefferson, Washington and many other of the Founding Fathers were slaveowners, but some were also conflicted by the institution, seeing it as immoral and politically divisive; Washington gradually became a cautious supporter of Abolitionism in the United States, abolitionism and freed his slaves in his will. Jay and Hamilton led the successful fight to outlaw the slave trade in New York, with the efforts beginning as early as 1777. Conversely, many Founders such as Samuel Adams and John Adams were against slavery their entire lives. Rush wrote a pamphlet in 1773 which criticizes the slave trade as well as the institution of slavery. In the pamphlet, Rush argues on a scientific basis that Africans are not by nature intellectually or morally inferior, and that any apparent evidence to the contrary is only the "perverted expression" of slavery, which "is so foreign to the human mind, that the moral faculties, as well as those of the understanding are debased, and rendered torpid by it." The Continental Association contained a clause which banned any Patriot (American Revolution), Patriot involvement in slave trading. Franklin, though he was a key founder of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, originally owned slaves whom he later Manumission, manumitted. While serving in the Rhode Island Assembly, in 1769 Hopkins introduced one of the earliest anti-slavery laws in the colonies. When Jefferson entered public life as a young member of the House of Burgesses, he began his career as a social reformer by an effort to secure legislation permitting the emancipation of slaves. Jefferson say’s “In 1769, I became a member of the legislature…. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected”, but the representatives of the Crown sought “to direct our labors in subservience to [the mother country’s] interest…. and… the Royal negative closed the last door to every hope of amelioration.” Jay founded the New York Manumission Society in 1785, for which Hamilton became an officer. They and other members of the Society founded the African Free School in New York City, to educate the children of free blacks and slaves. When Jay was governor of New York in 1798, he helped secure and signed into law an abolition law; fully ending forced labor as of 1827. He freed his own slaves in 1798. Hamilton opposed slavery, as his experiences in life left him very familiar with slavery and its effect on slaves and on slaveholders, although he did negotiate slave transactions for his wife's family, the Schuyler family, Schuylers. Many of the Founding Fathers never owned slaves, including John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Paine. Slavery in the United States, Slaves and slavery are mentioned only indirectly in the 1787 Constitution. For example, Three-fifths Compromise, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 prescribes that "three-fifths of all other Persons" are to be counted for the apportionment of seats in the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives and direct taxes. Additionally, in Fugitive Slave Clause, Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3, slaves are referred to as "persons held in service or labor". The Founding Fathers, however, did make important efforts to contain slavery. Many Northern states had adopted legislation to end or significantly reduce slavery during and after the American Revolution. In 1782, Virginia passed a manumission law that allowed slave owners to free their slaves by will or deed. As a result, thousands of slaves were manumitted in Virginia. In 1784, Jefferson proposed to ban slavery in all the western territories, which failed to pass Congress by one vote. Partially following Jefferson's plan, Congress did ban slavery in the Northwest Ordinance, for lands north of the Ohio River. The Atlantic slave trade, international slave trade was banned in all states except South Carolina by 1800. Finally in 1807, President Jefferson called for and signed into law a federally-enforced ban on the international slave trade throughout the U.S. and its territories. It became a federal crime to import or export a slave. However, the domestic slave trade was allowed for expansion or for diffusion of slavery into the Louisiana Territory.


Attendance at conventions

In the winter and spring of 1786–1787, twelve of the thirteen states chose a total of 74 delegates to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Nineteen delegates chose not to accept election or attend the debates. Among them was Henry, who in response to questions about his refusal to attend was quick to reply, "I smelled a rat." He believed that the frame of government the convention organizers were intent on building would trample upon the rights of citizens. Also, Rhode Island's lack of representation at the convention was the result of suspicions of the convention delegates' motivations. As the colony was founded by Roger Williams as a sanctuary for Baptists, Rhode Island's absence at the convention in part explains the absence of Baptist affiliation among those who did attend. Of the 55 who did attend at some point, no more than 38 delegates showed up at one time.


Spouses and children

Only four (Baldwin, Gilman, Jenifer, and Martin) were lifelong bachelors. Many of the Founding Fathers' wives—such as Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Sarah Livingston Jay, Dolley Madison, Mary White Morris and Catherine Alexander Duer—were strong women who made significant contributions of their own to the fight for liberty.Griswold, Rufus (1855), ''The Republican Court, or, American Society in the Days of Washington'', D. Appleton & Co. Sherman fathered the largest family: 15 children by two wives. At least nine (Bassett, Brearly, Johnson, Mason, Paterson, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Sherman, Wilson, and Wythe) married more than once. Washington, who became known as "The Father of His Country", had no biological children, though he and his wife raised two children from her first marriage and two grandchildren.


Post-constitution life

Subsequent events in the lives of the Founding Fathers after the adoption of the Constitution were characterized by success or failure, reflecting the abilities of these men as well as the vagaries of fate. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe served in the highest U.S. office of President. Jay was appointed as the first Chief Justice of the United States and later was elected to two terms as governor of New York. Hamilton was appointed the first Secretary of the Treasury in 1789, and later Inspector General of the Army under President John Adams in 1798. Seven (Fitzsimons, Gorham, Luther Martin, Mifflin, Robert Morris, Pierce, and Wilson) suffered serious financial reversals that left them in or near bankruptcy. Robert Morris spent three of the last years of his life imprisoned following bad land deals. Two, Blount and Dayton, were involved in possibly treasonous activities. Yet, as they had done before the convention, most of the group continued to render public service, particularly to the new government they had helped to create. Many of the Founding Fathers were under 40 years old at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776: Hamilton was 21 and Gouverneur Morris was 24. The oldest was Franklin at 70. A few Founding Fathers lived into their nineties, including: Charles Carroll, who died at age 95; Thomson, who died at 94; William Samuel Johnson, who died at 92; and John Adams, who died at 90. The last remaining Founders, also poetically called the "Last of the Romans", lived well into the 19th century. The last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence was Charles Carroll, who died in 1832. The last surviving member of the Continental Congress was John Armstrong Jr., who died in 1843. Three (Hamilton, Spaight, and Gwinnett) were killed in duels. Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826.


Legacy


Institutions formed by Founders

Several Founding Fathers were instrumental in establishing schools and societal institutions that still exist today: * Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania, while Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. * Washington supported the founding of Washington College by consenting to have the "College at Chester" named in his honor, through generous financial support, and through service on the college's Board of Visitors and Governors. * Rush founded Dickinson College and Franklin College, (today Franklin & Marshall College) as well as the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest medical society in America. * Hamilton founded the ''New York Post'', The Bank of New York, Hamilton-Oneida Academy (now Hamilton College), as well as what would become the United States Coast Guard.


Noted collections of the Founding Fathers

* Adams Papers Editorial Project * Founders Online – a searchable database of over 178,000 documents authored by or addressed to George Washington, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
The Papers of Alexander Hamilton
* The Selected Papers of John Jay at Columbia University * The Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University * The Papers of James Madison at University of Virginia * The Washington Papers at University of Virginia * The Franklin Papers at Yale University


Scholarship on the Founders

Articles and books by 21st-century historians combined with the digitization of primary sources like handwritten letters continue to contribute to an encyclopedic body of knowledge about the Founding Fathers.


Historians who focus on the Founding Fathers

Ron Chernow won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2010 Washington: A Life, biography of Washington. His 2004 Alexander Hamilton (book), bestselling book about Hamilton inspired the 2015 blockbuster Hamilton (musical), musical of the same name. Both Peter S. Onuf and Jack N. Rakove researched Jefferson extensively. According to Joseph Ellis, the concept of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. emerged in the 1820s as the last survivors died out. Ellis says "the founders", or "the fathers", comprised an aggregate of semi-sacred figures whose particular accomplishments and singular achievements were decidedly less important than their sheer presence as a powerful but faceless symbol of past greatness. For the generation of national leaders coming of age in the 1820s and 1830s – men like Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun – "the founders" represented a heroic but anonymous abstraction whose long shadow fell across all followers and whose legendary accomplishments defied comparison. Joanne B. Freeman's area of expertise is the life and legacy of Hamilton as well as political culture of the revolutionary and early national eras. Freeman has documented the often opposing visions of the Founding Fathers as they tried to build a new framework for governance, "Regional distrust, personal animosity, accusation, suspicion, implication, and denouncement—this was the tenor of national politics from the outset." Annette Gordon-Reed is an American historian and Harvard Law School professor. She is noted for changing scholarship on Jefferson regarding his relationship with Sally Hemings and her children. She has studied the challenges faced by the Founding Fathers particularly as it relates to their position and actions on slavery. She points out "the central dilemma at the heart of American democracy: the desire to create a society based on liberty and equality" that yet does not extend those privileges to all." David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2001 book, ''John Adams (book), John Adams'', focuses on the Founding Father, and his 2005 book, ''1776 (book), 1776'', details Washington's military history in the American Revolution and other independence events carried out by America's founders.


In stage and film

The Founding Fathers were portrayed in the Tony Award–winning 1969 musical 1776 (musical), ''1776'', which depicted the debates over, and eventual adoption of, the Declaration of Independence. The stage production was adapted into the 1776 (film), 1972 film of the same name. The 1989 film ''A More Perfect Union (film), A More Perfect Union'', which was filmed on location in Independence Hall, depicts the events of the Constitutional Convention. The writing and passing of the founding documents are depicted in the 1997 documentary miniseries ''Liberty!'', and the passage of the Declaration of Independence is portrayed in the second episode of the 2008 miniseries ''John Adams (miniseries)#Part II: Independence (1774–1776), John Adams'' and the third episode of the 2015 miniseries ''Sons of Liberty (miniseries), Sons of Liberty''. The Founders also feature in the 1986 miniseries ''George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation'', the 2002-03 animated television series ''Liberty's Kids'', the 2020 miniseries ''Washington (miniseries), Washington'', and in List of films about the American Revolution, many other films and List of television series and miniseries about the American Revolution, television portrayals. Several Founding Fathers—Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, and Madison—were reimagined in Hamilton (musical), ''Hamilton'', a 2015 musical inspired by Ron Chernow's 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton (book), ''Alexander Hamilton'', with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The musical won eleven Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


Children's books

In their 2015 children's book, ''The Founding Fathers'' author Jonah Winter and illustrator Barry Blitt categorized 14 leading patriots into two teams based on their contributions to the formation of America – the Varsity Squad (Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, John Adams, Madison, Jay, and Hamilton) and the Junior Varsity Squad (Sam Adams, Hancock, Henry, Morris, Marshall, Rush, and Paine).


Presidents of the United States

The first five U.S. Presidents are regarded as Founding Fathers because of their active participation in the American Revolution: Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. They all previously served as delegates in the Continental Congress.


Other notable patriots of the period

The following men and women also advanced the new nation through their actions. * Abigail Adams, advisor, confidant, First Lady of the United States, first lady, wife of John Adams and mother of President John Quincy Adams * Ethan Allen, military and political leader in Vermont * Richard Allen (bishop), Richard Allen, African-American bishop, founder of the Free African Society and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, A.M.E. Church * John Bartram, botanist, horticulturist, and explorer *
Egbert Benson Egbert Benson (June 21, 1746 – August 24, 1833) was a lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in everyday speech to attorney, is t ...

Egbert Benson
, politician from New York, delegate to the Continental Congress and the Annapolis Convention (1786) *Israel Bissell, a patriot Post riders, post rider in Massachusetts who rode the news to Philadelphia of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, British attack on Lexington and Concord. * Elias Boudinot, New Jersey delegate to Continental Congress * Aaron Burr, vice president under Jefferson * Angelica Schuyler Church, sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton, correspondeded with many of the leading Founding Fathers * George Rogers Clark, army general, nicknamed "Conqueror of the Old Northwest". * George Clinton (vice president), George Clinton, New York (state), New York governor and vice president of the U.S.Bernstein, R. B. (2009). ''The Founding Fathers Reconsidered'', New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. * Tench Coxe, economist in the Continental Congress * William Richardson Davie, delegate to the Constitutional Convention (leaving before he could sign it), and governor of North Carolina * Oliver Ellsworth, member of the Continental Congress, Founding Framer on the Committee of Detail and fashioned the Connecticut Compromise at the Constitutional Convention, chief author Judiciary Act of 1789, third chief justice of the United States * Albert Gallatin, politician and treasury secretaryDungan, Nicholas (2010). ''Gallatin: America's Swiss Founding Father''. New York University Press. * Horatio Gates, army general * Nathanael Greene, Revolutionary War general; commanded Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War, the southern theater * Nathan Hale, captured U.S. soldier executed in 1776 * Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, wife of
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
* Esek Hopkins, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy * James Iredell, essayist for independence and advocate for the constitution, one of the first Supreme Court justices * John Paul Jones, navy captain * Henry Knox, army general, Secretary of War, founder Society of the Cincinnati * Tadeusz Kościuszko, American general, former Polish army general * Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish military, governor of Spanish Louisiana. * Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, French Marquis who became a Continental Army general * John Laurance, New York politician and judge who served as judge advocate general during the Revolution. * Henry Lee III, army officer and Virginia governorBuchanan, John. "Founding Fighters: The Battlefield Leaders Who Made American Independence (review)". ''The Journal of Military History'' (Vol. 71, No. 2, April 2007), pp. 522–524. * Robert R. Livingston (chancellor), Robert R. Livingston, member of the
Committee of Five'' The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress was a group of five members who drafted and presented to the full Congress what would become America's Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. This Declaration committee operated from ...

Committee of Five
, first United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs * William Maclay (Pennsylvania senator), William Maclay,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
politician and U.S. senator * Dolley Madison, first lady (wife of
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. ...

James Madison
) * John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice of the United States, U.S. chief justice * George Mason, revolutionary writer, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Founding Framer and influential delegate to the Constitutional Convention, co-father of the United States Bill of Rights * Philip Mazzei, Italian physician, merchant, and author * James Monroe, fifth president of the United States * Daniel Morgan, military leader and Virginia congressman * Samuel Nicholas, commander-in-chief of the Continental Marines * James Otis Jr., Massachusetts lawyer and politician * Thomas Paine, author of the January 1776 pamphlet ''Common Sense (pamphlet), Common Sense'' which urged and inspired the colonists to declare their independence from Great Britain. * Andrew Pickens (congressman), Andrew Pickens, army general and South Carolina congressman * Timothy Pickering, United States Secretary of State, U.S. secretary of state, from Massachusetts * Oliver Pollock (1737-1823, a merchant, diplomat, and financier of the American Revolutionary War * Israel Putnam, army general * Edmund Randolph, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, where he introduced the Virginia Plan and served on the Committee of Detail, drafting committee; first United States attorney general and second U.S. secretary of state * Paul Revere, silversmith, member of the Sons of Liberty, participant in the Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, midnight ride * Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, French army general * Philip Schuyler, Revolutionary War general, U.S. Senator from New York, father of the Schuyler sisters. * Haym Solomon, financier and spy for the Continental Army * Arthur St. Clair, major general, president of the Confederation Congress, and later first governor of the Northwest Territory * Thomas Sumter, South Carolina military leader, and member of both houses of Congress * Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress throughout its existence (1774–1789), and principal designer of the obverse and partly of the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States * Richard Varick, private secretary to
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
, mayor of New York City, second attorney general of New York state, and founder of the American Bible Society * Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, Kingdom of Prussia, Prussian officer * Joseph Warren, doctor, revolutionary leaderRafael, Ray. ''The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Founding Fathers And the Birth of Our Nation'' (Penguin, 2011). * Mercy Otis Warren, political writer * Anthony Wayne, army general and politician * Noah Webster, writer, Lexicography, lexicographer, educator * Thomas Willing, delegate to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania, the first president of the Bank of North America, and the first president of the First Bank of the United States


See also

* Father of the Nation * History of the United States Constitution * History of the United States (1776–1789) * List of national founders * Military leadership in the American Revolutionary War * Rights of Englishmen * Sons of Liberty * 1776 Commission


References


Further reading

* ''American National Biography Online,'' (2000). * Bailyn, Bernard. ''To Begin the World Anew'' Knopf, 2003. * Bernstein, Richard B. ''Are We to Be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution.'' Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. * Bernstein, R.B. ''The Founding Fathers Reconsidered'' (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). * Brown, Richard D. "The Founding Fathers of 1776 and 1787: A Collective View," ''William and Mary Quarterly,'' 3rd Ser., Vol. 33, No. 3 (July 1976), pp. 465–480 . * Commager, Henry Steele. "Leadership in Eighteenth-Century America and Today," ''Daedalus'' 90 (Fall 1961): 650–673, reprinted in Henry Steele Commager, ''Freedom and Order'' (New York: George Braziller, 1966). * Ellis, Joseph J. ''Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation'' (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000). * Ellis, Joseph J. ''The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783–1789'' (New York: First Vintage Books Edition, May 2016). * Freeman, Joanne B. ''Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic.'' New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001. * Green, Steven K. ''Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding.'' Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2015. * Greene, Jack P. "The Social Origins of the American Revolution: An Evaluation and an Interpretation," ''Political Science Quarterly,'' Vol. 88, No. 1 (Mar. 1973), pp. 1–22 . * Harris, P.M.G., "The Social Origins of American Leaders: The Demographic Foundations, " ''Perspectives in American History'' 3 (1969): 159–364. * Lefer, David. ''The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution'' (2013) * Kann, Mark E. ''The Gendering of American Politics: Founding Mothers, Founding Fathers, and Political Patriarchy'' (New York: Frederick Praeger, 1999). * Adrienne Koch; ''Power, Morals, and the Founding Fathers: Essays in the Interpretation of the American Enlightenment'' (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1961). * K. M. Kostyal. ''Founding Fathers: The Fight for Freedom and the Birth of American Liberty'' (2014) * Franklin T. Lambert, ''The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America.'' (Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press, 2003). * James Kirby Martin, ''Men in Rebellion: Higher Governmental Leaders and the coming of the American Revolution,'' (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1973; reprint, New York: Free Press, 1976). * Richard B. Morris, ''Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries'' (New York: Harper & Row, 1973). * Robert Previdi; "Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America," ''Presidential Studies Quarterly,'' Vol. 29, 1999 * Rakove, Jack. ''Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America''(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2010) 487 pages; scholarly study focuses on how the Founders moved from private lives to public action, beginning in the 1770s * Cokie Roberts. ''Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation.'' New York: William Morrow, 2005. * Gordon S. Wood. ''Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different'' (New York: Penguin Press, 2006)


External links


Founders Online: Correspondence and Other Writings of Six Major Shapers of the United States

Debunks – along with other fact finding sites – the Internet Myth of "What Happened to The Signers of the Declaration of Independence"
(Published June 28, 2005) (Retrieved January 30, 2015) *
"Founding Father Quotes, Biographies, and Writings"
{{DEFAULTSORT:Founding Fathers Of The United States Age of Enlightenment American Revolution National founders, United States Patriots in the American Revolution Political leaders of the American Revolution 1910s neologisms America was founded when America was founded.