- March 19, 2015 at 7:07 am #8920Robert JennerParticipant
I have a question that I have never really seen answered, so I thought I would post it here. Who do you all consider to be the Founding Fathers of the United States? Is it the signers of the Declaration of Independence, or signers of the Constitution or is it both? I have seen references that refer to almost any politician of this time as a founding father, however, if that is the case why is Alexander Hamilton (who I personally do not like, Burr fan all the way) known more about as a founding father than Pierce Butler who sold his commission as a British Officer to purchase a plantation in South Carolina. Both men signed the Constitution after all. The one I really question is why is Roger Sherman, the only man to sign ALL the important documents of the time, the Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the Constitution not recognized as THE founding father, yet John Jay who only signed the Constitution is more recognized!March 20, 2015 at 7:47 am #8925DKeymaster
Great points. In some ways I think it seems to be attributable to the marketing/promotional/sensational benefit of individuals attaching history to their needs. In other words, if people are engaged in something (as an history author who wants to sell a book, a family member, historic property owner, teachers looking to connect with students, etc.), attaching the title “Founding Father” to a figure adds a sense of excitement and strength. As such, and as you mention many figures from that time are considered Founding Fathers, maybe it is in part to want to feel that sensationalized association with greatness.
As to whom should be considered the Founding Fathers, I would likely go with those whom were prominent figures from the 1st and 2nd Continental Congresses. They really dug in deep to not only summarize and give a single voice to the sentiment of the colonies, they also worked through the mechanisms of deciding to come together, design a plan for communication across colonies, develop a type of government, an army, currency, international relations (France, Spain), etc. and essentially build a country from the ground up.
If I had to start a definitive list of true Founding Fathers, I would say:
–George Washington – tremendous contributions to the army, leadership of the country, and character of the american spirit
–Ben Franklin – sound judgement across many areas of expertise, hard working/pioneering/inventive spirit, his direct contributions to founding a country (in Congress, on the Declaration, as ambassador in France, contributions to the post office, fire department, education, health)
–Thomas Jefferson – Balanced thinker who put country above self, drafted the Declaration of Independence (even while incorporating major concepts from earlier documents), leadership as ambassador to France, Secretary of State, Vice-President, & PresidentMarch 21, 2015 at 1:08 am #8932JoshParticipant
I think there are definite “Founding Fathers”, and for me they would be of the “First string” names, like Washington, Franklin and Jefferson and John Adams too, people like that. Indeed for my money (no dollar bill pun intended!) it’s a rather ill defined and indeed personal decision who you would describe as an FF. For instance I’d not single out every signer of the Declaration but certainly everyone who drafted it must be considered one, for it was their words and ideas that were accepted. However the on the other hand the members of the first 2 Congresses cannot be all excluded for the same reason, I mean you could argue that every soldier in the Continental army was one, so it’s hard to quantify for me. I do agree that the name is often used to unrealistic extremes by publishers, it’s an emmotive tag.
Josh.March 23, 2015 at 5:50 am #8943Robert JennerParticipant
I really agree that this is a very vague term. I agree people like Washington, Franklin and Adams are definatly FF, however, I think there are others, though not well known who are just as important. I mentioned him before but for my money the first person who should always be called a FF is Roger Sherman! He is the only man to sign the Articles of Association, the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution! What more could anybody of his time do? Now didn’t become a president like Washington, Adams and Jefferson, and he wasn’t a world inventor like Franklin, but for my money he is just as important! For that matter, men like James Wilson, Robert Morris (though both men fell on financial trouble later in their lives) and George Clymer all signed both the Declaration and the Constitution, why then is a upstart like Hamilton more important then them, I have yet to find a answer. Now if say Franklin had some hard times near the end of his life would we still have remembered him for everything he had done? I go back to Robert Morris, this man virtually bankrolled the entire Revolution, even paying out of his own pockets to keep the army together before the crossing of the Delaware!
There are more to the FF then just the big names.March 25, 2015 at 4:42 am #8949DKeymaster
Thinking more, I would agree it’s much more a vague answer. So many figures contributed consistently and in so many ways that it might be paralleled to sports teams today, where one figure like a quarterback gets the glory yet so many from the team contribute. Could international personalities be included? Coming to mind are Lafayatte and Von Steuben.
Maybe it’s more an entire generation we can claim that can define the FFs, with some figures just having more exposure than others. And dare I suggest, we include the Founding Mothers? Martha Washington, Dolly Madison, etc.
And Robert, I would agree on folks like Wilson (an original supreme court justice) and Morris (all that he did) get often overlooked. It seems a bit of the case of those remember most what was remembered last, and their earlier contributions get overshadowed.
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