My Top Five Founding Fathers

This was going to be a Top Ten list, but I ran out of time.  Have to get going to the town get-together for food, music, and fireworks.

5. Benjamin Franklin – Delegate to the Second Continental Congress; helped form what was to become the Declaration of Independence; as a diplomat to France during the war he played the crucial role in securing French military support against the British, without which the outcome of the Revolution would have been very different.  As an emissary to Britain, he worked hard to keep the colonies within the Empire, but once the Revolution started he never looked back – “We must all hang together, or we will surely hang separately.”

4. Thomas Jefferson – Incredibly smart; author of one of the finest documents every produced, the Declaration of Independence; as a diplomat to France was crucial in maintaining foreign relations with the new nation’s primary ally; third President.  Jefferson was a jumble of contradictions, both politically and personally, and I have many reservations about him, but he undeniably played a crucial role in the founding of the nation.

3. John Adams – Member of both Continental Congresses; was central to the choice of George Washington as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army;  instrumental in the drafting and adoption of the Declaration of Independence; first Vice-President and second President of the US.  One of my favorites.

2.  Alexander Hamilton – The epitome of the self-made man and a model for achieving what has become the American dream; he actively fought in the war; author of the Federalist Papers; as the nation’s first Treasury Secretary and trusted confidant of Washington, he almost single-handedly laid the groundwork for the US’s rise as an economic power.  Easily the most under-appreciated Founding Father.

1.  George Washington – Architect of the defeat of the greatest military power in the world by a rag-tag group of untrained colonials; resisted the pull of establishing monarchical powers for himself;  precedent-setter for Presidential traditions including term limits.  Quite simply the single most important person in the history of these United States.

Honorable mention:

James Madison – Co-author with Hamilton of the Federalist Papers and the writer of most of the Constitution.

Thomas Paine – Author of Common Sense in 1776, a powerful treatise on the need for independence from Britain.

Samuel Adams – Brewer and patriot.  What more need be said?

5 Responses

  1. Just nitpicking, but why does Madison only get honorable mention? A lot of historians put him at #1 or 2, just curious about your reasons.


    • Mcwing:

      Probably because my knowledge of Madison isn’t what it should be. I think GW is undeniably number 1, and Hamilton is my favorite, hence number 2. After that, I am open to adjustments.


  2. Hope everyone is enjoying the 4th. I’m taking a few days off and will see you all next week


  3. Ok, I would have put Madison at 2 (Constitution) and Hamilton the Jefferson. It’s not like it matters, though, an argument could have been made for any order.


  4. It is hard not to put Madison in the top five, where I would say, throw his name and those of the the other four after Washington in a hat, mainly of course because of his key role in drafting and defending the Constitution. I think I would replace Franklin with him in the top five.


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