America was founded on the ideals of a group of men that we have come to know as the “Founding Fathers”. These men – many of whom were in their twenties and thirties at the time of the signing of Declaration of Independence – were guided by a set of ideals that our country’s foundation is based upon. What we tend to forget is that these men were just normal people who stood up against a powerful nation and did above normal things. Here are five of our most important Founding Fathers and some of the things they did.
George Washington (1732-1799)
Just forty-three years old when he was asked to lead the Colonies into battle against the British, his role as commander often makes us refer to him as “The Father of our Country”. During the Revolutionary War, he was successful in kicking the British out of Boston and succeeding at Saratoga and Yorktown. Washington lost New York to the British, but was still capable of winning the war. What Makes Him The Best: Following the end of the war in 1783, King George III asked what Washington would do next and was told of rumors that he would return to his farm; this prompted the king to state, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” Washington DID return to private life and retired to his plantation at Mount Vernon. He was offered to be made King of the United States, but refused the honor. He would become President for two terms and return again to his private life.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Jefferson is probably best known for being the author of the Declaration of Independence which he co-wrote with fellow Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin. However, Jefferson was the main author of the manuscript and usually gets full credit. Jefferson was a political idealist and philosopher who’s thoughts have stuck with us till this very day. The entire premise of separation of Church and State was Jefferson’s idea which he wrote in a letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 and borrowed from another philosopher, named John Locke (not the one on the television show, Lost). Jefferson was also the second person to be Vice President of the United States, the third President, and the person responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. Additionally, he was also an architect, inventor, and farmer. What Makes Him The Best: Jefferson wrote what is arguably the most famous document in the United States, yet during his lifetime, very few people knew it! The man ran for political office three times and never mentioned it. Could you imagine that happening in politics today? Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, on the fiftieth anniversary of the document he wrote.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
The “Old Man” of the Founding Fathers, Franklin is probably one of the most easily recognizable. He was 70 years old – and long-retired – when the Declaration of Independence was signed. A skilled statesmen and political manipulator, Franklin chose to live in France during the Revolutionary War working on getting support against England in Europe. The behind-the-scenes work he did helped to win the war that the younger crowd was fighting for over here. Franklin, an already renowned author, inventor, and scientist was able to win over the court of France and get the help we needed here to win the war. What Makes Him Best: Franklin was the First Ambassador America had and is often referred to as “The First American”. During his time in the Colonies, he fought the hardest to join the different states into one unified country that could be strong together. He never wanted to seek political office.
John Adams (1735-1826)
Adams was an attorney and farmer from the state of Virginia. Originally, he did not want the Colonies to go to war with England. In fact, he defended the British troops responsible for the Boston Massacre. He was the first Vice President of the United States and the second President. He served only one term. Adams was not a very well-liked man. When he went to France to help influence the war, he was immediately at odds with Benjamin Franklin and other Founding Father, John Jay, who despised him. While Adams was a hard worker and up at dawn, he would often meet Franklin just going to bed from a night of socializing. However, the two of them worked great together, in tandem. He was pretty much hated by Jefferson, too, who didn’t care for his brand of politics. What Makes Him The Best: Adams is the person who pursued the Dutch to get the money for America to win the Revolutionary War. He is also the author of the peace treaty that ended hostilities with Britain and ended the war. In addition to this, he was a great judge of character, who first stated that George Washington should lead the Colonial Armies against the British. John Adams, while typically overlooked, was possibly the most influential of our Founding Fathers. He and Jefferson died on the same day: July 4th, 1826 – exactly 50 years following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His last words were: “At least Jefferson lives.” – speaking of his old friend and political enemy who died just the hour before.
Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)
This Founding Father was the first Secretary of the Treasury, an economist, and writer of the Federalist papers. Like Adams, Hamilton had a lot of detractors. The most famous of these was another early government leader, known as Aaron Burr. Burr, is probably best known for putting a bullet in Hamilton during a duel. This is a shame, though, because Hamilton had a lot to offer our country in the way we do business. During the Revolutionary War, Hamilton was in charge of an artillery battery and an aide of Washington. He later studied law and founded the Bank of New York. He would be the first lawyer to interpret Constitutional Law. He admired British political systems and wanted a stronger Federal government. What Makes Him Best: Hamilton started the Federalist Party which was opposed to Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party (the Democratic-Republican’s were the same party – not two like today). One of the sticking points was that Hamilton had formed a National Bank, which would later become the foundation of our whole banking system.