Who were the Founding Fathers?

founding fathersToday we examine a phrase that is thrown about a lot . But what exactly is a Founding Father? And more importantly, who are considered our country’s Founding Fathers?

The dictionary definition of a Founding Father is “a member of the convention that drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787”. This, however, would exclude Thomas Jefferson, who is as deserving of the term as any other. Many historians include some or all of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Some historians distinguish between the Signers and the Framers when speaking .

Lets look at who did what.

Signers of the Declaration of Independence:

  1. John Hancock
  2. Josiah Bartlett
  3. William Whipple
  4. Matthew Thornton
  5. Sam Adams
  6. John Adams
  7. Robert Treat Paine
  8. Elbridge Gerry
  9. Stephen Hopkins
  10. William Ellery
  11. Roger Sherman
  12. Samuel Huntington
  13. William Williams
  14. Oliver Wolcott
  15. William Floyd
  16. Philip Livingston
  17. Francis Lewis
  18. Lewis Morris
  19. Richard Stockton
  20. John Witherspoon
  21. Francis Hopkinson
  22. John Hart
  23. Abraham Clark
  24. Robert Morris
  25. Benjamin Rush
  26. John Morton
  27. George Clymer
  28. James Smith
  29. George Taylor
  30. James Wilson
  31. George Ross
  32. George Ross
  33. Ceasar Rodney
  34. Thomas McKean
  35. Samuel Chase
  36. William Paca
  37. Thomas Stone
  38. Charles Carroll of Carrollton
  39. George Wythe
  40. Richard Henry Lee
  41. Thomas Jefferson
  42. Benjamin Harrison
  43. Thomas Nelsen, Jr.
  44. Francis Lightfoot Lee
  45. Carter Braxton
  46. William Hooper
  47. Joseph Hewes
  48. John Penn
  49. Edward Rutledge
  50. Thomas Heyward, Jr.
  51. Thomas Lynch, Jr.
  52. Arthur Middleton
  53. Button Gwinnett
  54. Lyman Hall
  55. George Walton

Signers of the United States Constitution:

  1. George Washington
  2. George Read
  3. Gunning Bedford, Jr.
  4. John Dickinson
  5. Richard Bassett
  6. Jacob Broom
  7. James McHenry
  8. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
  9. Daniel Carroll
  10. John Blair
  11. James Madison, Jr.
  12. William Mount
  13. Richard Dobbs Spaight
  14. Hugh Williamson
  15. John Rutlege
  16. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
  17. Charles Pinckney
  18. Pierce Butler
  19. William Few
  20. Abraham Baldwin
  21. John Langdon
  22. Nicholas Gilman
  23. Nathaniel Gorham
  24. Rufus King
  25. William Samuel Johnson
  26. Roger Sherman
  27. Alexander Hamilton
  28. William Livingston
  29. David Brearley
  30. William Paterson
  31. Jonathan Dayton
  32. Benjamin Franklin
  33. Thomas Mifflin
  34. Robert Morris
  35. George Clymer
  36. Thomas Fitzsimons
  37. Jared Ingersoll
  38. James Wilson
  39. Gouveneur Morris

Only two people signed both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution:

  • Roger Sherman of Connecticut (also signed the Articles of Association and the Articles of Confederation)
  • Robert Morris of Pennsylvania

Which of these are considered to be truly the Founding Fathers? I thought it would be interesting to boil it down to a Top Ten. There are five who might be considered fairly uninamous by most historians. They are:

  1. Benjamin Franklin
  2. George Washington
  3. John Adams
  4. Thomas Jefferson
  5. James Madison

From there its a little less concrete. Britannica lists their Top 10:

  1. John Adams
  2. Sam Adams
  3. Ben Franklin
  4. Alexander Hamilton
  5. Patrick Henry
  6. Thomas Jefferson
  7. James Madison
  8. John Marshall
  9. George Mason
  10. George Washington

American History offers their Top 10:

  1. George Washington
  2. John Adams
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. James Madison
  5. Benjamin Franklin
  6. Samual Adams
  7. Thomas Paine
  8. Patrick Henry
  9. Alexander Hamilton
  10. Gouverneur Morris

The “Others” (LOST joke, sorry) – The following signed neither the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence, but are still considered Founding Father material (if not actual Founding Fathers) for their efforts:

  1. Ethan Allen
  2. Egbert Benson
  3. Richard Bland
  4. Aaron Burr
  5. George Clinton – the artist behind the greatest funk song of all-time deserves to be on this list
  6. Patrick Henry – was incendiary on the mic; usually considered Top 10 by most
  7. John Jay
  8. Henry Knox
  9. Henry Lee III
  10. Thomas Sim Lee
  11. Robert R. Livingston
  12. John Marshall
  13. Philip Mazzei
  14. James Monroe – often overshadowed by Jefferson and Madison – pretty big footsteps to follow; also a frequent Top 10
  15. James Otis, Jr
  16. Thomas Paine – his “Common Sense” lands him on most Top 10 lists
  17. Peyton Randolph
  18. William Rickman
  19. Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette
  20. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
  21. Charles Thomson

*Link Alert* For more on the Founding Fathers including an image gallery, quotes, and even Thomas Jefferson posters, click here.

Source: Wikipedia 1,2; Britannica; American History;

9 Responses to Who were the Founding Fathers?

  1. […] Martha’s male children, did indeed name his third grandson after his friend, protege, fellow Founding Father and president, James Madison himself, making Madison the only person to have a room in Monticello […]

  2. […] country’s love affair with our Founding Fathers has lasted, for the most part, well past our bicentennial. Our towns, cities, schools, streets, […]

  3. […] Who were the Founding Fathers in Italian […]

  4. […] * Color, sketch, paint or draw one of the 1st four Presidents of these United Colonies States – that would include, but be limited to, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. However, I might also accept drawings of a Signer of the Declaration of Independence or a ratifier of the Constitution (for suggestions on either, click here). […]

  5. […] not fear! The Founding Fathers have come to the rescue once […]

  6. […] Name TJ’s Next Grandson TJ named his grandchildren after himself, BFF James Madison, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, personal secretary and explorer Meriwether Lewis, and law mentor George […]

  7. […] company called Bobbleheads is offering bobbleheads of several Founding Fathers (via Amazon) including Jefferson, Washington, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Madison, Sam and John Adams. They […]

  8. […] Who were the Founding Fathers? February 2009 8 comments 5 […]

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