Our Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers. Source: (commons.wikimedia.org)
Father’s Day can represent not only fathers of families but also the fathers of our country. Our founding fathers of America consisted of seven men of valor: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin.
Our first presidents:
George Washington was the first commander in chief, the first president of the United States (1789 – 1797). He was also the commander of the Continental Army as well as president of the Constitutional Convention.
Washington had very little formal education mainly because his father died when he was only 11 years old leaving limited funds for education. Despite this, he was determined to better himself so he ultimately learned how to become a surveyor. During the French and Indian War, the Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie sent him to deliver a message to the French to leave the area. He was only 21 years old and a major at the time, but he proved he had endurance when he had to hike through woods covered in snow for days, fell off a raft in an icy river where he almost drowned and had to spend the night freezing on an island with no available shelter.
At the age of 22, he was a lieutenant colonel and managed to advance on the French with 150 men, killing 10 of their men including the commander, but later, upon his retreat to Fort Necessity, was forced to surrender when the French surrounded the fort. After being humiliated, he resigned his commission but came back later as a volunteer aide to General Braddock. During another battle near the Monongahela River, he had two horses shot out from under him and four bullet holes shot through his coat but he himself was never hit. There were others that were severely injured and he ended up leading the survivors back to safety.
John Adams was the first Vice-President for two terms and second President of the United States (1797-1801). Receiving his education at Harvard, he became a lawyer. As a leader in the independence movement, he helped to draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He was also instrumental in negotiating a peace treaty during the Revolutionary War. Ironically, there was a war between the French and the British during Adams’ presidency which made things difficult for the United States.
Adams was the first president to live in the White House. On the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he passed away just a few hours after Thomas Jefferson, whom he thought was still alive as he declared “Thomas Jefferson lives.”
Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States (1801-1809) serving two terms and was also a lawyer as well as an architect. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. During his presidency, he organized the Louisiana Purchase and pursued shipping and trade against the Barbary pirates and the British policies. He also promoted religious freedom.
Out of the six children that he and his wife, Martha had, only two of them lived more than a few years. Martha herself died at the age of 33. They had only been married for 10 years. To make matters worse, Jefferson’s father-in-law had died about a year after they were married, leaving all of his assets to them including his debt which inevitably took its toll on him. Jefferson took ill about a year before the fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of independence and died at the age of 83 on the actual anniversary day a few hours before John Adams.
James Madison was the fourth President of the United States (1809 – 1817) and also, along with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, wrote “The Federalist Papers.” Referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison also helped to frame the Bill of Rights. During his presidency, he protested against trying to fight France and Britain as America’s ships did not compare in number to theirs. Eventually, though, he did give in under pressure to declare war in 1812.
Madison died in 1836 with a desire in his heart for the Union of the States to stay united.
First Chief Justice:
John Jay was the first Chief Justice (1789 – 1795) and the second Governor of New York. He was also a lawyer and was a negotiator of the Treaty of Paris where Britain recognized America’s independence. At the end of the war, he was Secretary of Foreign Affairs and co-author of “The Federalist Papers” among many other accomplishments. Part of his accomplishments was to help abolish slavery in New York before his death in 1829.
First Secretary of the Treasury:
Alexander Hamilton was not only the first Secretary of the Treasury but also the founder of the Federalist Party and the United States Coast Guard. The Federalist Party consisted mostly of bankers and businessmen. He, like many of the others, also studied law as well as being responsible for founding the Bank of New York. Hamilton did not see eye to eye with Aaron Burr who ran against Thomas Jefferson so he helped Jefferson to defeat Burr. A few years later in 1804, Hamilton ran against Burr for governor of New York and things turned really ugly. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel on July 11, 1804, where he shot him causing him to die the next day.
Senior Diplomat and Governor of Pennsylvania:
Benjamin Franklin was considered a ‘great thinker’ or polymath as well as one of the Founding Fathers. Besides his role as Senior Diplomat and Governor of Pennsylvania, he was also an inventor, author, printer, scientist, and the list goes on. Among the list of titles he held was the first United States Postmaster General. By the 1750s, he became one of the abolitionists against slavery. He has become one of the most honored men throughout history by displaying his image on coins, the $100 bill, and in many other ways such as educational institutions and corporations.
Though these were but mere men with flaws like everyone else, they took a chance and risked their lives and their reputations in order to found this country that we now call The United States of America.