The founding fathers of America
Last updated on October 3rd, 2019 at 12:34 pm
Central to American political history is the role played by the founding fathers. The phrase founding fathers is used to describe the political leaders who played a big role in the revolution days and establishing the political structures just after independence. The list of the founding fathers is long ranging from those who took part in the Declaration of Independence, those who drafted the articles of confederation as well as those who were involved in writing the American constitution. Historians have expanded this list to include even those who played a big role in entrenching the Bill of rights to the constitution and those who played a big role in the consequent amendment to the constitution. Though the list is long, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson stand out as the men who played the most important role in the establishment of the American Nation.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) might not have played an open role like George Washington who was physically on the battlefield, but nonetheless greatly influenced the establishment of the American nation in the staterooms and halls of governments. The current United States of America owes a lot to his intellect and his diplomatic skills. His exemplary abilities in writing, politics, music and scientific innovation helped in shaping the current United States.
His central role in revolution will be remembered by the presence of his signature in four of the most important documents: Declaration of independence (1776), the constitution (1787), Treaty of Alliance with France (1778) and the Treaty of Paris (1783) (Stanfield, 2001). He was an active member in drafting the constitution of the United States. Besides all the other qualities, Franklin used his negotiation skills to bring France into supporting the American Revolution. Franklin constantly persuaded Britain to abandon its colonial policy. It will be remembered that it is Franklin, while in his quasi-diplomatic mission to France, who managed to convince France to sign a military agreement against Britain (Stanfield, 2001). This was not a simple task to any other person, but Franklin, thank to his intellects, negotiation skills, charm, and public goodwill, managed to convince France to support America in its revolutionary war.
Besides diplomatic activities, Franklin also remained an active public servant. In revolutionary times, Franklin assumed the role of an elder statesman who offered guidance to young revolutionaries. The fact that the leadership of America remained in Philadelphia, where Franklin was up to late 1700 only to move to Washington D.C later is a clear picture of how he influenced American politics of that time.
To say that George Washington (1732-1799) was the central figure in the American Revolution is an understatement. The political activities of George Washington, which climaxed by him becoming the first American president should not be used to obscure the subtle role he played as the first American intelligence chief and his role in the battlefield. His intelligence skills came in handy when he was the general of the Continental Army. Without his intelligence in the army and great commanding skills, the Continental Army could not have defeated the mightier British army (Meacham, 2007). In instances where any other general could have retreated, Washington urged his soldiers to move on. It is no wonder that Washington features prominently in commemoration of American independence. Most of the Americans often refer to him as “the father of our country”. Maybe if it were not George Washington, the American nation would have attained independence much later like the other British colonies.
After the victory, Washington presided over the Constitution Convention. In American politics, by virtue of being the first president, Washington is the person who first established that a president should only rule for a limited time (Burke, 2007). Unlike other nations where the founding father continued to cling to power, Washington established that leadership is not a reserve of only one person but should circulate among the populace. This must be a very wise idea that continues to be advocated in many democracies around the world.
Thomas Jefferson is the other indispensable figure in the American Revolution. Many people will be surprised that unlike other nation-states like the Europeans, the formation of the American state is different (Meacham, 2007). While the European nations had their source of national identity in language, ethnicity, and religion, the American nation is established on a set of beliefs that were well captured by Thomas Jefferson as the “self-evident truths” (Appleby, 2003). It does not take a blood relation or genealogy for one to become an American; rather it is a belief in values of the American nations. Jefferson is an important person who helped in entrenching these liberal ideas in the American constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights. If it were not for these common values that Americans have continued to hold on, maybe the nation could have disintegrated into the like of the East European nations like the Soviet Union. Jefferson will continue to be remembered for his central role in drafting the declaration for independence as well as an accomplished statesman who rose to the helm of American political leadership.
Appleby, J. (2003) Thomas Jefferson: The American Presidents Series: The 3rd President, 1801-1809. Los Angeles: Henry Holt and Company
Burke, J. (2007). American Connections: The Founding Fathers, Networked. New Jersey: Simon and Schuster.
Meacham, J. (2007). American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. New York: Random House Publishing Group.
Stanfield, J. (2001). America’s Founding Fathers — Who are They? NewYork: Universal-Publishers.
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