The United States of America is a country that was founded by men who had specific visions for the future. They wanted to establish a nation where equality would be guaranteed for all, regardless of race, creed, or station in life.
These men were not only brilliant political minds but also deeply religious individuals who firmly believed that the end of days would come soon and that it was their duty to build a society where righteousness could thrive.
The lives of these Founding Fathers have been chronicled in many different works and documentaries over the years. This article will attempt to showcase some of their fascinating legacies through brief overviews of their personal lives, careers, and lasting legacies.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Benjamin Franklin was a brilliant scientist, politician, and inventor who served as the first United States Ambassador to France and the first Secretary of the United States Treasury. Franklin was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.
As a young man, he was both a patriot and a skeptic, favoring non-violent resistance to British rule in America but also believing that the British could be reasoned with if necessary. Franklin eventually became a key figure in the American Revolution and was a founder of the United States of America.
In his early career, Franklin pursued many scientific endeavors, becoming the first person to successfully conduct electricity experiments, create a stinging liquid that could be used as an anticoagulant, and invent the lightning rod and bifocal glasses. He also founded the first public lending library, became an avid publisher, and launched a major paper delivery service.
Franklin was considered one of the founding fathers because he was an early advocate for education and the importance of a well-educated populace. He also believed in the power of civic engagement and encouraging citizens to get involved in the political process.
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the most influential Founding Father outside of the Washington-Adams Axis. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States.
Jefferson was born into a wealthy plantation-owning family in the Virginia Blue Ridge, but he displayed an early talent for studying and learning about new ideas. He was a Democratic-Republican who believed in a decentralized federal government and a culture of innovation in the United States that benefited from both the natural environment and human ingenuity.
Jefferson was married to the iconic first lady of the United States, Martha Wayles S. Jefferson. Together this dynamic duo mentored the young Jefferson and helped shape his views on civic engagement and the role of women in society.
Jefferson was also a leading advocate of religious freedom, an opinion that was in line with his long-time friend and mentors Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s legacy today is incredibly significant, as he was one of the key founding voices articulating the values of the United States and cultivating a sense of nationalism.
James Madison (1751–1836)
James Madison was the fourth President of the United States and the principal author of the Federalist Papers. His contributions to the development of the United States Constitution are at the heart of his legacy. Madison was a key Founding Father who served as a key player in the Revolution and the Constitution.
Madison was born into a political family, as his father was a prominent Democratic-Republican politician in colonial Virginia. After graduating from Harvard University, Madison became a politician in his own right, serving as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Continental Congress.
After the Revolutionary War, Madison moved to the new federal capital of Philadelphia, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was a founding member of the Democratic-Republican Party and served as a key advisor to the new federal government during the constitutional convention.
Madison is best known for the Federalist Papers, a series of 85 essays that he and Alexander Hamilton wrote to promote the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. In addition to the Constitution, Madison was also a key player in the creation of the Bill of Rights and the establishment of the federal judiciary. His remarkable contributions to the new nation are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and a great many laws and institutions that continue to shape the nation today.
Alexander Hamilton (1755-1812)
Alexander Hamilton was one of the most brilliant minds behind the United States Constitution. He served as a key Founding Father and played a major role in the Revolutionary War and the drafting of the Constitution. Hamilton was born into a well-off New York family with a long tradition of political involvement.
Throughout his youth, he developed a keen interest in politics, aided in part by his uncle who was a major figure in the Federalist Party. He attended King’s College in New York and quickly became an avid student of law and politics. Hamilton entered the Revolutionary War in 1776 at the age of 26 and served with distinction in the Continental Army.
After the war, he served as a key figure in New York’s political scene and rose to prominence as a leading member of the Federalist Party. Hamilton worked tirelessly to promote the Federalist Party and was instrumental in the creation of the U.S. Constitution. He was a key advisor to President George Washington and served as Secretary of the Treasury in the new federal government.
George Washington (1732–1799)
George Washington is emblematic of the best of the Founding Fathers. He was a brilliant military leader and a champion of the new federal government. Washington was born into a well-off Virginia family with a long tradition of public service.
His first military service was with the British through the French and Indian wars, where he showed tremendous leadership and courage. After the Revolutionary War, Washington became a key political figure in the new federal government. He served as the first President of the United States and was unanimously chosen by the Constitutional Convention as the first President of the United States.
Washington was a towering figure in the nation’s early history, as he led the young nation to victory in the Revolutionary War while at the same time promoting the values of civic engagement and a strong national identity. His extraordinary life and legacy remain an inspiration for many Americans today.
Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)
Abraham Lincoln was a key figure in the United States during the Civil War, as he led the Union to victory at great cost to his own life. Lincoln was born in a small rural Illinois family with a long history of public service. He married well and also had a successful career as a lawyer and politician before being elected President.
Lincoln served as a U.S. Representative before serving as a Senator from Illinois, a key swing state in the 1860 presidential election. In 1862, the Union had only managed to control a few small outposts in the South, and Lincoln was criticized for his lack of progress in liberating the South from the confederacy.
However, Lincoln gradually built a powerful Union army and his initial strategy of avoiding major battles and invading enemy territory proved successful. Lincoln campaigned for reelection as President in 1864 with a powerful speech entitled “the blood-stained banner of the Union” that was full of soaring rhetoric and patriotism. He was reelected in a landslide and shortly thereafter launched a war to emancipate the slaves, which led to his assassination.
The Legacy of the Founding Fathers in Modern Society
The Founding Fathers have had a profound impact on the nation and its values. Their legacies are evident in the Constitution, laws, and institutions that remain in place today.
They also had a great impact on the intellectual landscape of America and the world, with figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson having a profound influence on modern society.
Their contributions to the nation’s founding are also reflected in the values of equality, civic engagement, and national identity that are still present in modern society.