The Info List - Founding Fathers Of The United States

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The FOUNDING FATHERS OF THE UNITED STATES were those individuals of the Thirteen Colonies in North America who led the American Revolution against the authority of the British Crown in word and deed and contributed to the establishment of the United States of America .

Historian Richard B. Morris in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: John Adams , Benjamin Franklin , Alexander Hamilton , John Jay , Thomas Jefferson , James Madison , and George Washington . Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were members of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence . Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were authors of _The Federalist_ Papers , advocating ratification of the Constitution . Jay, Adams and Franklin negotiated the Treaty of Paris (1783) that would end the American Revolutionary War . Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and was President of the Constitutional Convention . Washington, Jay and Franklin are considered the Founding Fathers of U.S. Intelligence by the CIA . All held additional important roles in the early government of the United States, with Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison serving as President. Jay was the nation's first Chief Justice. Four of these seven - Washington, Jay, Hamilton and Madison - were not signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The term Founding Fathers is sometimes used to refer to the Signers of the embossed version of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It 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 , a trade ban and one of the colonists' first collective volleys protesting British control and the Intolerable Acts in 1774 or 2) those who signed the Articles of Confederation , the first U.S. constitutional document.

The phrase "Founding Fathers" is a twentieth-century appellation, coined by Warren G. Harding in 1916. In the 19th century, they were referred to as simply, the "Fathers". One historian eschews the narrow definition (or Great Man theory ) associated with the term "Founding Fathers" and applies it to a broader group of people, that includes not only Morris' "Seven" or the Signers or the Framers but also all those, no matter their race or gender, who, whether as politicians, jurists, statesmen, soldiers, diplomats, or ordinary citizens, took part in winning U.S. independence and creating the United States of America.


* 1 Background

* 2 Interesting facts and commonalities

* 2.1 Education

* 2.1.1 Colleges attended

* 2.1.2 Advanced degrees and apprenticeships

* Doctors of medicine * Theology * Legal apprenticeships

* 2.1.3 Self-taught or little formal education

* 2.2 Demographics * 2.3 Political experience * 2.4 Occupations and finances * 2.5 Religion * 2.6 Ownership of slaves and position on slavery * 2.7 Attendance at conventions * 2.8 Spouses and children * 2.9 Charters of freedom and historical documents of the United States * 2.10 Post-constitution life * 2.11 Youth and longevity * 2.12 Founders who were not signatories or delegates

* 3 Legacy

* 3.1 Institutions formed by Founders

* 3.2 Scholarship on the Founders

* 3.2.1 Living historians whose focus is the Founding Fathers * 3.2.2 Noted collections of the Founding Fathers

* 3.3 In stage and film * 3.4 Children\'s books

* 4 See also * 5 Notes * 6 References * 7 External links


The Albany Congress of 1754 was a conference attended by seven colonies, which presaged later efforts at cooperation. The Stamp Act Congress of 1765 included representatives from nine colonies.

The First Continental Congress met briefly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1774, consisting of fifty-six delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies (excluding Georgia ) that became the United States of America. 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 was Patrick Henry , and John Adams , who like all delegates were elected by their respective colonial assemblies. Other delegates included Samuel Adams from Massachusetts, John Dickinson 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 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 Morris of Pennsylvania, John Hancock of Massachusetts, and John Witherspoon of New Jersey. Hancock was elected Congress President two weeks into the session when Peyton Randolph was recalled to Virginia to preside over the House of Burgesses . 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 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 the British Parliament . 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 , which met from 1781 to 1789. Later, 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 .


_ Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States _, by Howard Chandler Christy George Washington served as President of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Benjamin Franklin , an early advocate of colonial unity, was a foundational figure in defining the U.S. ethos and exemplified the emerging nation's ideals. Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist papers with Jay and Madison John Jay was President of the Continental Congress from 1778-1779 and negotiated the Treaty of Paris with Adams and Franklin. James Madison , called the "Father of the Constitution" by his contemporaries. Peyton Randolph , as President of the Continental Congress, presided over creation of the Continental Association. Richard Henry Lee , who introduced the Lee Resolution in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. A Committee of Five , composed of John Adams , Thomas Jefferson , Benjamin Franklin , Roger Sherman , and Robert Livingston , drafted and presented to the Continental Congress what became known as the U.S. Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. John Hancock , President of the Continental Congress, renowned for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence. John Dickinson authored the first draft of the Articles of Confederation in 1776 while serving in the Continental Congress as a delegate from Pennsylvania, and signed them late the following year, after being elected to Congress as a delegate from Delaware. Henry Laurens was President of the Continental Congress when the Articles were passed on November 15, 1777. Roger Sherman , the only person who signed all four U.S. historical documents.

The Founding Fathers represented a cross-section of 18th-century U.S. leadership. Almost all of them were well-educated men of means who were leaders in their communities. Many were also prominent in national affairs. Virtually every one had taken part in the American Revolution ; at least 29 had served in the Continental Army , most of them in positions of command. Scholars have examined the collective biography of them as well as the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution.


Many of the Founding Fathers attended or held degrees from the colonial colleges , most notably Columbia , Princeton , Harvard , the College of William and Mary , Yale and University of Pennsylvania . Some had previously been home schooled or obtained early instruction from private tutors or academies. Others had studied abroad. Ironically, Benjamin Franklin who had little formal education himself would ultimately establish the University of Pennsylvania based on European models (1740); "Penn" would have the first medical school (1765) in the thirteen colonies where another Founder, Benjamin Rush would eventually teach.

With a limited number of professional schools established in the U.S., Founders also sought advanced degrees from traditional institutions in England and Scotland such as the University of Edinburgh and University of St. Andrews .

Colleges Attended

* College of William and Mary: Thomas Jefferson * Harvard : John Adams, John Hancock and William Williams * Columbia : John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, Robert R. Livingston and Egbert Benson . * Princeton : James Madison, Gunning Bedford, Jr. , Aaron Burr , Benjamin Rush and William Paterson * University of Pennsylvania: Hugh Williamson * Yale University: Oliver Wolcott * James Wilson attended University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh though he never received a degree.

Advanced Degrees And Apprenticeships

Doctors Of Medicine

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


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

Legal Apprenticeships

Several like John Jay, James Wilson, John Williams and George Wythe were trained as lawyers through apprenticeships in the colonies while a few trained at the Inns of Court in London.

Self-taught Or Little Formal Education

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


* Most of the Founding Fathers were natives of the Thirteen Colonies . At least nine were born elsewhere: four (Butler, Fitzsimons, McHenry, and Paterson) in Ireland , two (Davie and Robert Morris) in England , two (Wilson and Witherspoon) in Scotland , and one (Hamilton) in the West Indies . * Many of them had moved from one state to another. Eighteen had already lived, studied or worked in more than one state or colony: Baldwin, Bassett, Bedford, Davie, Dickinson, Few, Franklin, Ingersoll, Hamilton, Livingston, Alexander Martin, Luther Martin, Mercer, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, Read, Sherman, and Williamson. * Several others had studied or traveled abroad.


The Founding Fathers had extensive political experience. Many had been members of the Continental Congress . Nearly all of the 55 Constitutional Convention delegates had experience in colonial and state government, and the majority had held county and local offices.

* Thomas Mifflin and Nathaniel Gorham had served as President of the Continental Congress . * The ones who lacked congressional experience were Bassett , Blair , Brearly , Broom , Davie , Dayton , Alexander Martin , Luther Martin , Mason , McClurg , Paterson , Charles Pinckney , Strong , and Yates . * Eight men (Clymer , Franklin , Gerry , Robert Morris , Read , Roger Sherman , Wilson , and Wythe ) had signed the Declaration of Independence . * Six (Carroll , Dickinson , Gerry , Gouverneur Morris , Robert Morris , and Roger Sherman ) had signed the Articles of Confederation . * Two, Sherman and Robert Morris, three of the nation's historical documents. * Dickinson, Franklin, Langdon, and Rutledge had been governors.


The Founding Fathers practiced a wide range of high and middle-status occupations , and many pursued more than one career simultaneously. They did not differ dramatically from the Loyalists , except they were generally younger and less senior in their professions. 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.

* As many as thirty-five had legal training , though not all of them practiced law . Some had also been local judges . * At the time of the convention, 13 men were merchants : Blount, Broom, Clymer, Dayton, Fitzsimons, Shields, Gilman, Gorham, Langdon, Robert Morris, Pierce, Sherman, and Wilson. * 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 owned or managed slave -operated plantations or large farms , particularly in the southern colonies: Bassett, Blair, Blount, Davie, Johnson, Butler, Carroll, Jefferson, Jenifer, Madison, Mason, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney , Rutledge, Spaight, and Washington. * Many wealthy Northerners owned domestic slaves: Franklin later freed his slaves and was a key founder of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society . 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 signed into law a gradual abolition law; fully ending slavery as of 1827. He freed his own slaves in 1798. * Broom and Few were small farmers . * Eight of the men received a substantial part of their income from public office: Baldwin, Blair, Brearly, Gilman, Livingston, Madison, and Rutledge. * Three had retired from active economic endeavors: Franklin, McHenry, and Mifflin. * Franklin and Williamson were scientists , in addition to their other activities. * McClurg, McHenry, Rush, and Williamson were physicians * Johnson and Witherspoon were college presidents .


Franklin T. Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of the Founders. Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 28 were Anglicans (in the Church of England ; or Episcopalian , after the American Revolutionary War was won), 21 were Protestants , and two were Roman Catholics (D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons). Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, eight were Presbyterians , seven were Congregationalists , two were Lutherans , two were Dutch Reformed , and two were Methodists .

A few prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical Christians such as Thomas Jefferson, who constructed the _ Jefferson Bible _, and Benjamin Franklin.

Historian Gregg L. Frazer argues that the leading Founders (Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Wilson, Morris, Madison, Hamilton, and Washington) were neither Christians nor Deists, but rather supporters of a hybrid "theistic rationalism ".

The Faiths of the Founding Fathers is a book that that discusses the religion held by the founding fathers, written in 2006 by historian of U.S. religion David L. Holmes .


Portrait of George Washington and his valet slave William Lee . See also: George Washington and slavery and Thomas Jefferson and slavery

One of the greatest contradictions of the Founding Fathers was their disunity with regard to slavery at a time that they were seeking liberty for themselves. In her study of Thomas Jefferson , historian Annette Gordon-Reed emphasizes this irony, "Others of the founders held slaves, but no other founder drafted the charter for freedom, " In addition to Jefferson, George Washington , John Jay and many other of the Founding Fathers practiced slavery but were also conflicted by the institution which many saw as immoral and politically divisive. Benjamin Franklin owned slaves (though Franklin later became an abolitionist ). John Jay would try unsuccessfully to abolish slavery as early as 1777 in the State of New York but was overruled (though he would later sign the Gradual Emancipation Act into law while Governor). Alexander 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 Schuylers . John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Thomas Paine never owned slaves

Slaves and slavery are mentioned only indirectly in the 1787 Constitution. For example, 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 House of Representatives and direct taxes. Additionally, in 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. Thomas Jefferson, in 1784, 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 of 1787 , for lands north of the Ohio River .

The 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 .


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; for example, Patrick Henry of Virginia thought that state politics were far more interesting and important than national politics, though during the ratification controversy of 1787–1788 he claimed, "I smelled a rat." Rhode Island did not send delegates because of its politicians' 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.


Most of the Founding Fathers married and had children. Many of their spouses, like Eliza Schuyler Hamilton , Martha Washington , Abigail Adams , Sarah Livingston Jay, Dolley Madison , Mary White Morris and Catherine Alexander Duer were strong women and made significant contributions of their own to the fight for liberty.

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. Four (Baldwin, Gilman, Jenifer, and Alexander Martin) were lifelong bachelors . Many of the delegates also had children conceived illegitimately . George Washington, "The Father of our Country," had no biological descendants.


The National Archives and Records Administration also known as NARA, defines U.S. Founding Documents, or Charters of Freedom , as the Declaration of Independence (1776), The Constitution (1787) and the Bill of Rights (1791). These original instruments which represent the philosophy of the United States are housed in Washington, D.C. in the NARA Rotunda. The Library of Congress further identifies the Articles of Confederation, also preserved at NARA, as a primary U.S. document. The Articles of Confederation served as the first constitution of the United States until its replacement by the present Constitution on March 4, 1789.

Signatories of the Continental Association (CA), Declaration of Independence (DI), Articles of Confederation (AC), and the United States Constitution (USC)):

NAME PROVINCE/STATE CA (1774) DI (1776) AC (1777) USC (1787)

Andrew Adams Connecticut


John Adams Massachusetts Yes Yes

Samuel Adams Massachusetts Yes Yes Yes

Thomas Adams Virginia


John Alsop New York Yes

Abraham Baldwin Georgia


John Banister Virginia


Josiah Bartlett New Hampshire

Yes Yes

Richard Bassett Delaware


Gunning Bedford, Jr. Delaware


Edward Biddle Pennsylvania Yes

John Blair Virginia


Richard Bland Virginia Yes

William Blount North Carolina


Simon Boerum New York Yes

Carter Braxton Virginia


David Brearley New Jersey


Jacob Broom Delaware


Pierce Butler South Carolina


Charles Carroll of Carrollton Maryland


Daniel Carroll Maryland

Yes Yes

Richard Caswell North Carolina Yes

Samuel Chase Maryland Yes Yes

Abraham Clark New Jersey


William Clingan Pennsylvania


George Clymer Pennsylvania



John Collins Rhode Island


Stephen Crane New Jersey Yes

Thomas Cushing Massachusetts Yes

Francis Dana Massachusetts


Jonathan Dayton New Jersey


Silas Deane Connecticut Yes

John De Hart New Jersey Yes

John Dickinson Delaware

Yes Yes

Pennsylvania Yes

William Henry Drayton South Carolina


James Duane New York Yes


William Duer New York


Eliphalet Dyer Connecticut Yes

William Ellery Rhode Island

Yes Yes

William Few Georgia


Thomas Fitzsimons Pennsylvania


William Floyd New York Yes Yes

Nathaniel Folsom New Hampshire Yes

Benjamin Franklin Pennsylvania



Christopher Gadsden South Carolina Yes

Joseph Galloway Pennsylvania Yes

Elbridge Gerry Massachusetts

Yes Yes

Nicholas Gilman New Hampshire


Nathaniel Gorham Massachusetts


Button Gwinnett Georgia


Lyman Hall Georgia


Alexander Hamilton New York


John Hancock Massachusetts

Yes Yes

John Hanson Maryland


Cornelius Harnett North Carolina


Benjamin Harrison Virginia Yes Yes

John Hart New Jersey


John Harvie Virginia


Patrick Henry Virginia Yes

Joseph Hewes North Carolina Yes Yes

Thomas Heyward, Jr. South Carolina

Yes Yes

Samuel Holten Massachusetts


William Hooper North Carolina Yes Yes

Stephen Hopkins Rhode Island Yes Yes

Francis Hopkinson New Jersey


Titus Hosmer Connecticut


Charles Humphreys Pennsylvania Yes

Samuel Huntington Connecticut

Yes Yes

Richard Hutson South Carolina


Jared Ingersoll Pennsylvania


William Jackson South Carolina


John Jay New York Yes

Thomas Jefferson Virginia


Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Maryland


Thomas Johnson Maryland Yes

William Samuel Johnson Connecticut


Rufus King Massachusetts


James Kinsey New Jersey Yes

John Langdon New Hampshire


Edward Langworthy Georgia


Henry Laurens South Carolina


Francis Lightfoot Lee Virginia

Yes Yes

Richard Henry Lee Virginia Yes Yes Yes

Francis Lewis New York

Yes Yes

Philip Livingston New York Yes Yes

William Livingston New Jersey Yes


James Lovell Massachusetts


Isaac Low New York Yes

Thomas Lynch South Carolina Yes

Thomas Lynch, Jr. South Carolina


James Madison Virginia


Henry Marchant Rhode Island


John Mathews South Carolina


James McHenry Maryland


Thomas McKean Delaware Yes Yes Yes

Arthur Middleton South Carolina


Henry Middleton South Carolina Yes

Thomas Mifflin Pennsylvania Yes


Gouverneur Morris New York




Lewis Morris New York


Robert Morris Pennsylvania

Yes Yes Yes

John Morton Pennsylvania Yes Yes

Thomas Nelson, Jr. Virginia


William Paca Maryland Yes Yes

Robert Treat Paine Massachusetts Yes Yes

William Paterson New Jersey


Edmund Pendleton Virginia Yes

John Penn North Carolina

Yes Yes

Charles Pinckney South Carolina


Charles Cotesworth Pinckney South Carolina


Peyton Randolph Virginia Yes

George Read Delaware Yes Yes


Joseph Reed Pennsylvania


Daniel Roberdeau Pennsylvania


Caesar Rodney Delaware Yes Yes

George Ross Pennsylvania Yes Yes

Benjamin Rush Pennsylvania


Edward Rutledge South Carolina Yes Yes

John Rutledge South Carolina Yes


Nathaniel Scudder New Jersey


Roger Sherman Connecticut Yes Yes Yes Yes

James Smith Pennsylvania


Jonathan Bayard Smith Pennsylvania


Richard Smith New Jersey Yes

Richard Dobbs Spaight North Carolina


Richard Stockton New Jersey


Thomas Stone Maryland


John Sullivan New Hampshire Yes

George Taylor Pennsylvania


Edward Telfair Georgia


Matthew Thornton New Hampshire


Matthew Tilghman Maryland Yes

Nicholas Van Dyke Delaware


George Walton Georgia


John Walton Georgia


Samuel Ward Rhode Island Yes

George Washington Virginia Yes


John Wentworth, Jr. New Hampshire


William Whipple New Hampshire


John Williams North Carolina


William Williams Connecticut


Hugh Williamson North Carolina


James Wilson Pennsylvania



Henry Wisner New York Yes

John Witherspoon New Jersey

Yes Yes

Oliver Wolcott Connecticut

Yes Yes

George Wythe Virginia



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 and Madison served in highest U.S. office of President. Jay would be elected to two terms as Governor of New York.

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.


Death age of the Founding Fathers.

Many of the Founding Fathers were under 40 years old at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776: James Armistead Lafayette was 15, Marquis de Lafayette was 18, Alexander Hamilton was 19, Aaron Burr was 20, Gouverneur Morris and Betsy Ross were 24. The oldest were Benjamin Franklin, 70 and Samuel Whittemore , 81.

Secretary Charles Thomson lived to the age of 94. Johnson died at 92. John Adams lived to the age of 90. A few — Franklin, Jay, Jefferson, Madison, Hugh Williamson , and George Wythe — lived into their eighties. Approximately 16 died in their seventies, 21 in their sixties, 8 in their fifties, and 5 in their forties. Three (Alexander Hamilton , Richard Dobbs Spaight and Button Gwinnett ) were killed in duels .

Political adversaries John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the same day - July 4, 1826

The last remaining founders, also called the " Last of the Romans ", lived well into the nineteenth century.


The following men and women are also recognized by many as having been founders of the United States based upon their significant contributions to the formation of American nation and democracy.

* Abigail Adams , advisor, First Lady and mother of a president. * Ethan Allen , military and political leader in Vermont. * Richard Allen , African-American bishop. * John Bartram , botanist, horticulturist and explorer. * Egbert Benson , politician from New York. * Elias Boudinot , New Jersey delegate to Continental Congress. * Aaron Burr , Vice President under Jefferson. * George Rogers Clark , army general. * George Clinton , New York governor and Vice President of the U.S. * Tench Coxe , economist in Continental Congress. * William Richardson Davie , delegate to the Constitutional Convention (leaving before he could sign it), and Governor of North Carolina . * Albert Gallatin , politician and Treasury Secretary. * Horatio Gates , army general. * Nathanael Greene , army general. * Nathan Hale , captured U.S. soldier executed in 1776. * Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton , wife of Alexander Hamilton * James Iredell , advocate for Constitution, judge. * John Paul Jones , navy captain. * Henry Knox , army general, Secretary of War . * Tadeusz Kościuszko , Polish army general. * Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette , French army general. * Henry Lee III , army officer and Virginia governor. * Robert R. Livingston , diplomat and jurist. * William Maclay , Pennsylvania politician and U.S. Senator. * Dolley Madison , spouse of President James Madison . * John Marshall , fourth Chief Justice of the United States . * George Mason , revolutionary writer, co-father of the Bill of Rights. * Philip Mazzei , Italian physician, merchant and author. * James Monroe , fifth President of the United States * Daniel Morgan , military hero and Virginia Congressman. * James Otis, Jr. , Massachusetts lawyer and politician. * Thomas Paine , author of _Common Sense _. * Andrew Pickens , army general and SC congressman. * Timothy Pickering , U.S. Secretary of State from Massachusetts. * Israel Putnam , army general. * Edmund Randolph , first United States Attorney General . * Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau , French army general. * Haym Solomon , financier and spy for Continental Army. * Thomas Sumter , SC military hero and congressman. * Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben , Prussian officer. * Joseph Warren , doctor, revolutionary leader. * Mercy Otis Warren , political writer. * Anthony Wayne , army general and politician. * Noah Webster , writer, lexicographer , educator. * Thomas Willing , banker. * Paine Wingate , oldest survivor, Continental Congress .



Several Founding Fathers were instrumental in establishing schools and societal institutions that still exist today:

* Benjamin Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania, while Jefferson founded the University of Virginia . * Benjamin Rush founded Dickinson College and Franklin College, (today Franklin and Marshall ) as well as the College of Physicians of Philadelphia , the oldest medical society in America. * Alexander Hamilton founded the New York Post , as well as the United States Coast Guard . * Henry Knox helped found the Society of the Cincinnati in 1783; the society was predicated on service as an officer in the Revolutionary War and heredity. Members included Washington, Hamilton and Burr. Other Founders like Sam Adams, John Adams, Franklin and Jay criticized the formation of what they considered to be an elitist body and threat to the Constitution. Franklin would later accept an honorary membership though Jay declined.


Articles and books by twenty-first 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.

Living Historians Whose Focus Is The Founding Fathers

RON CHERNOW won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of George Washington. His bestselling book about Alexander Hamilton inspired the blockbuster musical of the same name.

JOSEPH J. ELLIS - According to 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.

"We can win no laurels in a war for independence," Webster acknowledged in 1825. "Earlier and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are there places for us ... the founders of states. Our fathers have filled them. But there remains to us a great duty of defence and preservation."

JOANNE B. FREEMAN Freeman's area of expertise is the life and legacy of Alexander 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 Thomas Jefferson regarding his relationship with Sally Hemings and her children. She has studied the challenges facing 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."

JACK N. RAKOVE - Thomas Jefferson

PETER S. ONUF - Thomas Jefferson

Noted Collections Of The Founding Fathers

* Adams Papers Project * Founders Online

Founders Online is a searchable database of over 178,000 documents authored by or addressed to George Washington, 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


The Founding Fathers were portrayed in the Tony Award winning musical _1776_ , a stage production about the debates over, and eventual adoption of, the Declaration of Independence ; the popular performance was later turned into the 1972 film

More recently, several of the Founding Fathers - Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Laurens and Burr - were reimagined in _Hamilton_ an acclaimed production about the life of Alexander Hamilton , with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda .The show was inspired by the 2004 biography _Alexander Hamilton_ by historian Ron Chernow . The groundbreaking rap musical won 11 Tony Awards.


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).


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* List of national founders (worldwide) * History of the United States Constitution * Rights of Englishmen * Patriot (American Revolution) * Sons of Liberty * Military leadership in the American Revolutionary War


* ^ "American Revolution: Key to Declaration of Independence". Retrieved April 6, 2017. * ^ Mellinkoff, David. _Mellinkoff's Dictionary of American Legal Usage_ (West Publishing, 1992) * ^ Richard B. Morris, _Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries_ (New York: Harper & Row, 1973). * ^ Kettler, Sarah. "The Founding Fathers: Who Were They Really?". Biography. Retrieved April 5, 2017. * ^ PBS NewsHour. "Forgotten Founding Father". * ^ Rose, P.K. "The Founding Fathers of American Intelligence". Retrieved April 5, 2017. * ^ "Did any of our "Founding Fathers" NOT sign the Declaration of Independence?". Harvard University: Declaration Resources Project. Retrieved April 8, 2017. * ^ "Signers of the Declaration". National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved April 7, 2017. * ^ National Archives. "Meet the Framers of the Constitution". * ^ US Constitution Online. "The Framers". * ^ Carl G. Karsch. "The First Continental Congress: A Dangerous Journey Begins". Carpenter's Hall. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2017. * ^ Stanfield, Jack. _America's Founding Fathers: Who Are They? Thumbnail Sketches of 164 Patriots_ (Universal-Publishers, 2001). * ^ Jill Lepore, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle American History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 16. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ R. B. Bernstein, _The Founding Fathers Reconsidered_ (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). * ^ Shane White. "The Other New York Hamilton". The Observer. Retrieved April 9, 2017. * ^ Burnett, _Continental Congress_, 64–67. * ^ Fowler, _Baron of Beacon Hill_, 189. * ^ "Signers of the Declaration". National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. p. Biography #54. Retrieved April 24, 2014. * ^ "Confederation Congress". Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved October 23, 2010. * ^ Calvin C. Jillson (2009). _American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change_ (5th ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-203-88702-8 . * ^ See Brown (19764); Martin (19739); "Data on the Framers of the Constitution," at * ^ Brown (1976); Harris (1969) * ^ "The Alma Maters of Our Founding Fathers". Retrieved April 7, 2017. * ^ "A Brief History of Columbia". Columbia University. 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-14. * ^ " Benjamin Rush (1746 - 1813) access-date=April 9, 2017". Penn University Archives and Records Center. * ^ "George Wythe". Colonial Williamsburg. Retrieved April 9, 2017.

* ^ Martin (1973); Greene (1973) * ^ Greene (1973) * ^ Greene (1973). * ^ Brown (1976) * ^ William R. Davie, Blackwell P. Robinson. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1957. * ^ _A_ _B_ Lambert, Franklin T. (2003). _The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America_. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (published 2006). ISBN 978-0691126029 . * ^ Letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813 "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government," * ^ Letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814 "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." * ^ The Religion of Thomas Jefferson Retrieved July 9, 2011 * ^ Quoted in The New England Currant (July 23, 1722), "Silence Dogood, No. 9; _Corruptio optimi est pessima_." "And it is a sad Observation, that when the People too late see their Error, yet the Clergy still persist in their Encomiums on the Hypocrite; and when he happens to die for the Good of his Country, without leaving behind him the Memory of one good Action, he shall be sure to have his Funeral Sermon stuff'd with Pious Expressions which he dropt at such a Time, and at such a Place, and on such an Occasion; than which nothing can be more prejudicial to the Interest of Religion, nor indeed to the Memory of the Person deceas'd. The Reason of this Blindness in the Clergy is, because they are honourably supported (as they ought to be) by their People, and see nor feel nothing of the Oppression which is obvious and burdensome to every one else." * ^ Frazer, Gregg L. (2012). _The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution_. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0700620214 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Annette Gordon-Reed, _Engaging Jefferson: Blacks and the Founding Father_, The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 171-182 * ^ "The Founders and Slavery: John Jay Saves the Day". The Economist. Retrieved April 5, 2017. * ^ _A_ _B_ Wright, William D. (2002). _Critical Reflections on Black History_. West Port , Connecticut : Praeger Publishers. p. 125. * ^ The Selected Papers of John Jay, Columbia University, http://www.columbia.edu/cu/libraries/inside/dev/jay/JaySlavery.html * ^ Horton, James O. (2004). "Alexander Hamilton: Slavery and Race in a Revolutionary Generation". _New York Journal of American History_. New York Historical Society (3). Retrieved October 29, 2016.

* ^ Magness,Phillip. "Alexander Hamilton\'s Exaggerated Abolitionism". Retrieved April 6, 2017. * ^ "The Founding Fathers and Slavery". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 9, 2017. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Freehling, William W. (February 1972). "The Founding Fathers and Slavery". _The American Historical Review_. 77 (1): 87. JSTOR 1856595 . doi :10.2307/1856595 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _The Cambridge History of Law in America_. 2008. p. 278. * ^ Freehling, William W. (February 1972). "The Founding Fathers and Slavery". _The American Historical Review_. 77 (1): 88. JSTOR 1856595 . doi :10.2307/1856595 . * ^ Freehling, William W. (February 1972). "The Founding Fathers and Slavery". _The American Historical Review_. 77 (1): 85. JSTOR 1856595 . doi :10.2307/1856595 . * ^ See the discussion of the Convention in Clinton L. Rossiter, _1787: The Grand Convention_ (New York: Macmillan, 1966; reprint ed., with new foreword by Richard B. Morris, New York: W. W. Norton, 1987). * ^ _A_ _B_ Griswold, Rufus (1855), _The Republican Court, or, American Society in the Days of Washington_, D. Appleton & Co. * ^ Staar (January 2009). "Our Founding Fathers". _Huffington Post_. Retrieved 22 February 2012. * ^ George Washington's Mount Vernon. "Father of His Country". Retrieved April 6, 2017. * ^ National Archives. "America\'s Founding Documents". Retrieved April 6, 2017. * ^ "Articles of Confederation". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 10, 2017. * ^ Martin (1973) * ^ Andrlik, Todd. "How Old Were the Leaders of the American Revolution on July 4, 1776?". * ^ History. " Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Die". * ^ Elizabeth Fox-Genovese; Eugene D. Genovese (2005). _The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders\' Worldview_. Cambridge University Press. p. 278. ISBN 9780521850650 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Encyclopædia Britannica. _Founding fathers: the essential guide to the men who made America_ (John Wiley and Sons, 2007). * ^ McWilliams, J. (1976). "The Faces of Ethan Allen: 1760-1860". _The New England Quarterly_. 49 (2): 257–282. JSTOR 364502 . doi :10.2307/364502 . * ^ Newman, Richard. _Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers_ (NYU Press, 2009). * ^ Jane Goodall (27 August 2013). Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants. Grand Central Publishing. pp. 60–61. ISBN 978-1-4555-1321-5 . * ^ Ballenas, Carl. _Images of America: Jamaica_ (Arcadia Publishing, 2011). * ^ Holmes, David. _The Faiths of the Founding Fathers_. (Oxford University Press US, 2006). * ^ Wood, Gordon S. _Revolutionary Characters, What Made the Founding Fathers Different_. (New York: Penguin Books, 2007) 225–242. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ _I_ Buchanan, John. "Founding Fighters: The Battlefield Leaders Who Made American Independence (review)". _The Journal of Military History_ (Volume 71, Number 2, April 2007), pp. 522–524. * ^ Stephen Yafa (2006). _Cotton: The Biography of a Revolutionary Fiber_. Penguin. p. 75. ISBN 9780143037224 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Dungan, Nicholas. _Gallatin: America's Swiss Founding Father_ (NYU Press 2010). * ^ Roberts, Cokie. "_Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation_". Harper Perennial, 2005 * ^ Roberts, Cokie. "_Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation_". Harper, 2008 * ^ Broadwater, Jeff (2006). _George Mason, Forgotten Founder_. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-3053-6 . OCLC 67239589 . * ^ LaGumina, Salvatore. _The Italian American experience: an encyclopedia_, page 361 (Taylor & Francis, 2000). * ^ Unger, Harlow (2009). _James Monroe: The Last Founding Father_. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81808-6 . * ^ Kann, Mark E. (1999). _The Gendering of American Politics: Founding Mothers, Founding Fathers, and Political Patriarchy_. ABC-CLIO. p. xi. ISBN 978-0-275-96112-1 . * ^ "Founding Father Thomas Paine: He Genuinely Abhorred Slavery". _The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education_ (48): 45. 2005. doi :10.2307/25073236 (inactive 2017-01-15). * ^ David Braff, "Forgotten Founding Father: The Impact of Thomas Paine," in Joyce Chumbley. ed., _Thomas Paine: In Search of the Common Good_ (2009) pp. 39–43 * ^ Burstein, Andrew. "Politics and Personalities: Garry Wills takes a new look at a forgotten founder, slavery and the shaping of America", _Chicago Tribune_ (November 09, 2003): "Forgotten founders such as Pickering and Morris made as many waves as those whose faces stare out from our currency." * ^ _A_ _B_ Rafael, Ray. _The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Founding Fathers: And the Birth of Our Nation_ (Penguin, 2011). * ^ "Founding Fathers: Virginia". FindLaw Constitutional Law Center. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-14. * ^ Schwartz, Laurens R. Jews and the American Revolution: Haym Solomon and Others, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 1987. * ^ Kendall, Joshua. _The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture_ (Penguin 2011). * ^ Wright, R. E. (1996). " Thomas Willing (1731-1821): Philadelphia Financier and Forgotten Founding Father". _ Pennsylvania History_. 63 (4): 525–560. JSTOR 27773931 . doi :10.2307/27773931 (inactive 2017-01-15). * ^ "A Patriot of Early New England", _ New York Times _ (December 20, 1931). This book review referred to Wingate as one of the "Fathers" of the United States, per the book title. * ^ _The New Yorker _, Volume I, page 398 (September 10, 1836): "'The Last of the Romans' — This was said of Madison at the time of his decease, but there is one other person who seems to have some claims to this honorable distinction. Paine Wingate of Stratham, N.H. still survives." * ^ "THE FOUNDING OF THE SOCIETY, 1783–1784". Society of the Cincinnati. Retrieved April 9, 2017. * ^ "History:The Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut". * ^ Joseph J. Ellis; _Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams._ (2001) p. 214. * ^ Jennifer Schuessler. "_Up From the Family Basement, a Little-Seen Hamilton Trove_". The New York Times. * ^ Joanne B. Freeman. "_The Long History of Political Idiocy_". The New York Times. * ^ Joanne B. Freeman. "_How Hamilton Uses History: What Lin-Manuel Miranda Included in His Portrait of a Heroic, Complicated Founding Father—and What He Left Out_". Slate. Retrieved April 9, 2017. * ^ Chris Bray. "_Tip and Gip Sip and Quip-The politics of never_". The Baffler. Retrieved April 11, 2017. * ^ Robert Viagas. "Hamilton Tops Tony Awards With 11 Wins". Playbill. Retrieved April 9, 2017. * ^ Winter, Jonah and Blitt, Barry, _The Founding Fathers!Those Horse-Ridin', Fiddle-Playin', Book-Readin', Gun-Totin' Gentlemen Who Started America_ Simon and Schuster, New York (2015)


* _ American National Biography Online ,_ (2000). * Bernard Bailyn, _To Begin the World Anew_ Knopf, 2003. * Richard B. Bernstein, _Are We to Be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution._ Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. * R. B. Bernstein, _The Founding Fathers Reconsidered_ (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). * Richard D. Brown. "The Founding Fathers of 1776 and 1787: A Collective View," _William and Mary Quarterly,_ 3rd Ser., Vol. 33, No. 3 (Jul. 1976), pp. 465–480 online at JSTOR. * Henry Steele Commager, "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). * Joseph J. Ellis. _Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation_ (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History. * Joseph J. Ellis. _The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789_ (New York: First Vintage Books Edition, May 2016). * Joanne B. Freeman, _Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic._ New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001. * Steven K. Green, _Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding._ Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2015. * Jack P. Greene. "The Social Origins of the American Revolution: An Evaluation and an Interpretation," _Political Science Quarterly,_ Vol. 88, No. 1 (Mar. 1973), pp. 1–22 online in JSTOR. * P.M.G. Harris, "The Social Origins of American Leaders: The Demographic Foundations, " _Perspectives in American History_ 3 (1969): 159–364. * Mark E. Kann; _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 "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)


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