The phrase has been applied to various people over the years, but a few individuals seem to stand out above the rest. So just who were the Founding Fathers of the United States?
Who Were the Founding Fathers?
When people talk about the Founding Fathers, they are referring to the historical figures that worked vigilantly to promote the American Revolution against British colonialism. These men would go on to help form the earliest government of the United States. It should be noted that the term “Founding Fathers” was coined by Warren G. Harding in 1916. Prior to that, they were simply called the “Fathers.”
In 1973, Historian Richard B. Morris identified seven figures as the key Founding Fathers. These men were: George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams.
While their names may be commonplace in American history, you might not know much about each of these men and what role they played in the birth of the United States. We’ll share a bit about each Founding Father below, and the impact they had in early America.
Of course, George Washington is most widely remembered as the first President of the United States. Washington was unanimously elected by the country’s electors in both the 1788-89 and 1792 elections. He was also the Continental Army’s Commander-in-Chief during the American Revolutionary War. Washington is sometimes also referred to as the “Father of His Country,” which is a pretty impressive title to hold.
The fourth President of the United States, James Madison has been called the “Father of the Constitution”. He played an instrumental role in drafting the United States Constitution, and led the creation of the Bill of Rights.
Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence, later serving as the third President of the United States. Along with James Madison, Jefferson is responsible for the creation of the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party during the formation of the First Party System. He also oversaw the negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase and played a major role in bringing Enlightenment ideas to the New World.
In addition to signing the Declaration of Independence, John Jay is recognized as the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was an essential player in brokering the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which put an end to the Revolutionary War.
Alexander Hamilton served unofficially as Chief of Staff under President Washington. He collaborated with James Madison and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 persuasive essays that urged New York’s citizens to ratify the new U.S. Constitution. He was also the first Secretary of the Treasury.
Author, political theorist, politician, scientist, civic activist, inventor… The list is endless when it comes to explaining why Benjamin Franklin is a leading figure of early American history. He served in the Second Continental Congress during the American Revolution, helped draft the Declaration of Independence, and participated in negotiations for the Treaty of Paris. He is also known for the invention of the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other notable innovations.
John Adams presided as the first Vice President of the United States under George Washington, and also served as the country’s second President. He served on the First Continental Congress during the American Revolution, and proposed a resolution that each of the colonies adopt their own independent governments. His son, John Quincy Adams, went on to become the sixth President.
With achievements like these, it’s no wonder these men have been cemented into American history!
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