Joss Delage

Who's your favorite Founding Father and why?

11 posts in this topic

I'll vote for Benjamin Franklin, with the caveat that I'm still learning about all of them.

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I would put John Adams as my favorite. Although I think that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would come next.

I think Adams was the most principled, although he made some incorrect decisions during his time as president. By far, I think he was the most studied of governments and knew their short-comings.

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I would call George Washington as the Founding Father of the Founding Fathers, because on the subject of making America possible, he really is in a class all by himself. I certainly admire the rest (very much so), but I place my gratitude at his feet the most. Plus, of course, he did not come short of the other Founders in terms of moral stature, and we may attribute America's existence as much to his virtues as to his generalship and leadership skills. There were times when a man had to be extraordinarily virtuous and carry the rest of the country alone on his shoulders, which he could, and did.

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I would call George Washington as the Founding Father of the Founding Fathers, because on the subject of making America possible, he really is in a class all by himself.

I'll second that. If you have not yet done so, become a registered user at the Ayn Rand Institute web site. A wonderful bonus for registered users is that currently Dr. Ridpath's passionate and moving tribute, "George Washington: Integrity and the Founding of America" is available for listening. This is a great lecture by a great teacher about the greatest Founding Father.

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I'll vote for Benjamin Franklin, with the caveat that I'm still learning about all of them.

I'll second Franklin. Since I was a child, he has always been a major personal hero for me.

I grew up in Philadelphia and Franklin was everywhere. He founded the Free Library of Philadelphia and inspired the Franklin Institute science museum where I spent many happy hours. A statue of The Young Franklin stood outside College Hall at the University of Pennsylvania where I got my BA.

Franklin excelled at being so many things I valued: Founding Father, businessman, writer, humorist, philosopher, scientist, community activist, educator, diplomat, and lover. He was a thinker and a doer and an all-around self-made American Renaissance Man.

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Patrick Henry. The thought of him delivering a thundering speech on the Illusions of Hope impresses me; I also admire his staunch, uncompromising defense of liberty.

Here's the speech, for those of you who didn't know about it:

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

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Great speech. Amazingly adaptable to our war on terror. You could modernize the language a bit, replace Britain with North Korea or Iran, and it would be perfect.

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The greatest Founding Father was George Washington. He truly was "The Indispensable Man," the Atlas upon whom the entire enterprise rested. He was so important because of his integrity. Every decent man in the colonies, regardless of his geographical or political orientation revered and trusted him. More often than not the colonists did what they had to do to achieve independence for no other reason than because he was leading them.

But I have read a number of lengthy biographies on the major Founding Fathers; George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, and I have come to the conclusion that they were all crucial to the enterprise. The freedom we enjoy today could easily have been lost had any one of them not been in place. Indeed I have compartmentalized each of them as to the significant role each played.

George Washington - He was the leader, the man who made the big decisions time and time again; the man who continually risked his reputation (which was most dear to him) on what many considered folly.

John Adams - He along with Jefferson provided the intellectual foundation for the revolution, but even more than Jefferson he provided the intellectual foundation for the constitution which keeps us semi-free today. C. Bradley Thompson's "John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty" superbly showed how it was Adams' writings on constitutional government in the two decades leading up to the revolution which provided the intellectual ammunition for the men who created our government. In addition to all of this, he was also the most influential speaker in the Continental Congress that made the fateful decision to declare independence.

Thomas Jefferson - I consider him the intellectual father of the Bill of Rights as well as obviously the writer of the Declaration of Independence. Of all the major players in this drama, he was the most avid for individual rights. On top of all that he was their most eloquent writer (the reason he was chosen to write the Declaration) and after Washington, the most able President.

Ben Franklin - I consider Franklin the revolution's salesman. Without his tireless efforts in Europe and particularly in France, the revolution would have been lost due to lack of support. At the time the colonies possessed precious little manufacturing and hard money. They had to import virtually everything they fought the war with, and it was Franklin's fame and charm that impressed the Europeans enough to provide the support.

Alexander Hamilton - I consider Hamilton the new government's financier and administrator. Had he not been brilliant enough to develop the proper methods for paying off the war debt and financing the new government the whole enterprise might have been lost due to lack of credit. In addition it was Hamilton who was truly the man that created the Executive Department of our government. Washington, as President, was the head of the government, but he delegated most of the practical details on how it was to be run to Hamilton, and Hamilton performed brilliantly in the task. Of all the Founding Fathers, Hamilton might be the most interesting based on his background (a virtual orphan growing up on an island in the Carribean) and his future orientation (of all of the Founding Fathers he best understood the future economic potential of the country he was creating).

There you have it. In short form:

Washington - the Leader

Adams and Jefferson - the Intellectuals

Franklin - the Salesman

Hamilton - the Banker and Administrator

Without any one of them the world would be a vastly different place today.

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Thomas Paine, of course. His book(more of a pamphlet) The Age of Reason was a masterpiece. Many of his other works were great also.

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Thomas Paine, of course.  His book(more of a pamphlet) The Age of Reason was a masterpiece.  Many of his other works were great also.

I agree. He was an incredible writer, and his ideas influenced many.

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I have recently read Ethan Allen's Reason:The only oracle of man. I loved it as much as The Age of Reason. Ethan Allen has earned a place among my founding fathers list.

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