Who Were the "Founding Fathers"?

Three of America's seven Founding Fathers.
Three of America's seven Founding Fathers.

The Founding Fathers refers to the individuals credited with achieving the independence of the United States of America. These seven men, from the original 13 colonies in the United States, worked to promote the American Revolution against British colonialism and are responsible for creating some of the most important documents in this country today, including the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Each individual listed below also helped form the earliest government of the US.

7. George Washington

George Washington is best known as the first president of the newly independent nation. Prior to holding this position, however, he served in the military from 1752 to 1758. The following year, the voting population in Virginia elected him to join the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he first began speaking against the British colonial powers. He was also a member of the First Continental Congress and was recruited to head the Continental Army against the British troops during the American Revolutionary War. As commander-in-chief, Washington led the military to several victories that eventually won the war. This victory made him a popular figure throughout the colonies and he was elected as the first president, with a ballot of 69 electors to 0.

6. James Madison

James Madison played an important role in writing the United States Constitution and is often referred to as the Father of the Constitution. Prior to creating the majority of this important founding document, Madison served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, the Virginia Convention, the Continental Congress, and the Council of the State of Virginia. He is also responsible for forming the Constitutional Congress, which met from May to September of 1787 to negotiate the details of the final version of the US Constitution. After authoring this document, he worked with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to publish the Federalist Papers, which were used to persuade the 13 colonies to agree with the final version. Additionally, James Madison served as the fourth president of the US.

5. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is considered a Founding Father because of his role in writing the Declaration of Independence as a member of the Committee of Five. He was responsible for writing the original draft, which was presented to the Continental Congress for consideration. Like the other Founding Fathers, Jefferson also served as a politician in the House of Burgesses, the Continental Congress, and the House of Delegates. Additionally, he was the governor of Virginia. After achieving independence, George Washington appointed Jefferson to serve as the first secretary of state. He went on to become the second vice president and the third president of the United States.

4. John Jay

John Jay represented the United States at the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which put an end to the American Revolutionary War. Additionally, he was one of the key authors of the Federalist Papers, which served to convince the original colonies to vote in favor of amending the constitution. Prior to these actions, Jay became involved in the movement for independence when he joined the New York Committee of Correspondence. He went on to become a delegate in the First and Second Continental Congresses, although he resigned from the Second Continental Congress due to his refusal to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was against taking military action to achieve independence. President George Washington appointed him as the first US supreme court justice after he declined to accept the nomination as secretary of state.

3. Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton became involved with the American Revolution when he joined a militia group while studying at King’s College in New York. This militia went on to fight in the American Revolutionary War and Hamilton became a lieutenant and captain in the military. Additionally, he held the unofficial position of chief of staff under President George Washington, and later was elected to serve as a delegate of New York on the Constitutional Convention. In an attempt to convince the colonies to ratify the constitution, Hamilton collaborated with James Madison and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 persuasive essays. In 1789, Washington selected Hamilton to serve as the first secretary of the treasury. In this position, Hamilton had a critical role in strengthening federal powers, establishing the first national bank, and creating the United States Mint.

2. Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was more than a Founding Father of the United States; he is also known for his lasting impact on the fields of diplomacy, literature, political science, and science. He became involved in politics in 1751, when he was elected to serve on the Pennsylvania Assembly, where he worked to promote increased autonomy for the colony. Franklin spent 6 years in Great Britain, trying to negotiate with the British crown and warning them that increasing control over the continental colonies would result in rebellion. In 1775, he served as a delegate on the Second Continental Congress and went on to assist in the creation of the constitution and was one of its signers. Franklin traveled to France as a diplomat and played a critical role in gaining French support of the American independence movement. France provided foreign aid to the colonies, which helped them defeat the British military. He stayed in France to negotiate the terms of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war. Additionally, he played an important role in establishing the postal service of the United States, enabling communication to be sent between towns and colonies at a faster speed.

1. John Adams

Like the previously mentioned Founding Fathers, John Adams served as a representative on the First and Second Continental Congresses. Prior to this political move, he was a member of the legislative body of the colony of Massachusetts. Adams was also responsible for nominating George Washington as the commander-in-chief of the American military forces during the war. Additionally, he served on the committee that worked together to create the United States Constitution. Adams also spent time in France as a diplomat with fellow Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, returned to work on the Constitutional Convention of Massachusetts, and later returned to France to help negotiate the Treaty of Paris. John Adams went on to become the first vice president of the newly formed nation and later became the second president.


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