Happy Fourth of July, everyone! In honor of this special day, let’s give a proper shout-out to some of our Founding Fathers: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. There are officially more than seven involved; however, these men are arguably the “key” Founding Fathers. These men are also much more than just wigged characters in our history books; they represent the ideals of freedom and the pursuit of happiness. The birth of our nation would have not been possible without each of their efforts and dedication! Let us highlight each of these members and their stories in celebration of our patriotism:
George Washington (1732-1799)
This Virginia-native served as the first President of the United States from 1789-1797. George Washington was one of the leading Patriots and played a major role in drafting the Constitution of the United States in 1787; he set up protocols in the new government’s war between Britain and France. The Proclamation of Neutrality, Jay Treaty and other reforms under his leadership supported his beliefs in avoiding war with Britain at all costs. He returned to farming after his tenure as a president. Upon his death, he was famously eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen".
John Adams (1735-1826)
John Adams was a leading advocate for the separation of the American colonies from England. This Founding Father served as the first Vice President (1789-1797) and second President of the United States (1797-1801). He was a Massachusetts-native, successful lawyer and Harvard graduate. Adams went on to serve as a member of the Continental Congress and assisted in drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Thomas Jefferson was born and educated in colonial Virginia; he graduated from the College of William & Mary practicing law. He became a Founding Father by signing the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third president of the United States from 1801-1809. At the start of the American Revolution, Jefferson was the Virginian representative for the Continental Congress. He was also widely-known as the leader of the Enlightenment - a period in the 16th and 17th century marked by intellectual and scientific advancement.
James Madison (1751-1836)
James Madison is known as the fourth president of the United States(1809-1817), being renowned for his political philosophy and participation in the founding of the U.S. Government and Constitution. Madison worked towards establishing religious freedom in his state of Virginia from a young age and has been ranked as an above-average president by historians. He was also referred to the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” as he was the author of the first ten amendments.
Alexander Hamilton (1755~1804)
This Founding Father worked his way to the top. Born in Charlestown, Nevis and orphaned as a child, Alexander Hamilton eventually became a self-taught lawyer and Washington’s right hand man. Hamilton also worked as Secretary of Treasury after he founded the U.S. Treasury, hoping to strengthen the U.S. banking and economic system to back up the proposed central government. He died following a duel with notorious Founding Father Aaron Burr, who blamed Hamilton for a smear PR campaign that caused him to lose an election for governor of New York State.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
A scientist, diplomat, inventor, printer/publisher and politician- Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents who, even today, is highly respected (so much so that he’s on the $100 bill). He never served in an official U.S.A political position (though he was “president” or governor of Pennsylvania for three years when it was still a colony), but his work was crucial in both the instigation of the revolution and the framework for the country to come afterwards. Franklin is well-known for being a drafter of several important U.S. documents, including the Declaration of Independence. Franklin also wrote “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” a forecasting book featuring poetry, weather predictions, and astronomy.
John Jay (1745-1829)
New York-native, John Jay, served as the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court among a variety of top government posts. Jay drafted the state’s first constitution in 1777 and was chosen president of the Continental Congress the following year. Jay served two years as governor of New York and then sought a deeper consolation in religion after his time in politics. Although he was not a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Jay strongly supported ratification of the Constitution and would have contributed far more than the five essays he wrote for The Federalist had illness not crept up.