Founding Fathers


george washington

George Washington: The First Founding Father

On 15 January 1783, General George Washington stood before his officers in a moment of crisis. His men had toiled and suffered for months with little pay, and Congress did not appear willing to ante-up. Washington could sense the growing possibility of mutiny. In a...
alexander hamilton

Alexander Hamilton: Father of America’s Economy

The columnist George Will wrote in 1992 that, “There is an elegant memorial in Washington to Jefferson, but none to Hamilton. However, if you seek Hamilton’s monument, look around. You are living in it. We honor Jefferson, but live in Hamilton’s country, a mighty...
thomas jefferson

Thomas Jefferson: The Scholar Farmer

Few figures in American history are studied or debated as frequently as Thomas Jefferson. A colleague once remarked that American history and American politics are simple: you are either a Jeffersonian or a Hamiltonian. He might be right. Little has changed in two...
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john adams

John Adams: The Perennial “Second Fiddle”

Thomas Jefferson described John Adams as irritable and vain and a “bad calculator of the force and probable effect of the motives which govern men.” On the surface, he was in almost every conceivable way the antithesis of Jefferson, though the two would find common...
james madison

James Madison: The Enigmatic Founding Father

James Madison is perhaps the most enigmatic of the Founders. Patrick Henry called him a “theoretic statesman,” a slap at Madison’s character and reclusive nature. One Spanish ambassador said Madison was “full of subterfuges, evasion, and subtleties. . . . ” Another...
benjamin franklin

Benjamin Franklin: Printer, Diplomat, International Celebrity

Other than George Washington, Benjamin Franklin was the most famous American of his generation. Any noteworthy activity in Philadelphia had his fingerprints, including the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Franklin was a philanthropist,...

Samuel Adams: Good Lager, Better Polemicist

“Samuel Adams is a beer.” This response appeared on countless essay exams give by instructors of American history. While funny, it typifies what most Americans know about Samuel Adams; very little, if anything. Yet, Samuel Adams has been one of the more controversial...
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John Hancock: More Than a Declaration Signatory

“Place your John Hancock on that line.” We have all heard that phrase dozens of times, but you may have asked, who is John Hancock? Hancock was a wealthy merchant, a patriot, a president of the Continental Congress, a governor of Massachusetts, and a mild...
john taylor of caroline

John Taylor of Caroline: More Jeffersonian than Jefferson

If anyone could be more Jeffersonian than Jefferson himself, it would probably be John Taylor of Caroline. Jefferson is the recognized champion of states’ rights, individual liberty, and the agrarian tradition, but in contrast to Taylor’s five published books, a...
roger sherman

Roger Sherman: Founding Father and “An Old Puritan”

Thomas Jefferson once described Roger Sherman as “a man who never said a foolish thing in his life.” John Adams said he was “an old Puritan, as honest as an angel and as firm in the cause of American Independence as Mount Atlas.” Such lofty praise from two of the most...
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