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Founding Fathers of America

“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.”

As commander of the Continental Army, George Washington played a critical role in the Revolutionary War. He later became the first President of the United States.   


George Washington took part in each important stage of the Revolutionary War. He opposed the Acts of British Parliament, oversaw the Siege of Boston to success, and later commanded the Continental Army against the Redcoats. He later took part in the Siege of Yorktown, resisting the powerful British attack. Washington led the convention that drafted the Constitution, and was subsequently elected president of the Convention. Washington was elected first president of the United States in 1789.

Role in American Revolution

Compared to other Founding Fathers, such as Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin, George Washington is known not for his political thought but rather his quick and decisive action on the battlefield. For the most part, the colonial forces were under matched against the British, but were still able to thwart the attacks because of Washington's sound and defensive strategy.

Washington had opposed the British on earlier occasions, openly protesting the Townshend Acts and organizing the revolt until the act was repealed. He was also part of the First Continental Congress to represent Virginia, which was a large colony at that time. When the Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought in 1775, the Second Continental Congress met to raise an army. George Washington was the natural choice for commander of the Continent Army.

After a tough campaign at Boston, the Continental Army emerged victorious. But Washington could not repeat his success in the battle for New York City. New Jersey, however, turned out to be a success and put Washington in a position of great esteem within the colonies. He also successfully directed the final campaign of Yorktown.

George Washington developed the idea of having civilian-elected officials in command of the military, and was thus of great importance for the concept of a national government. After the War was over, he was chosen to lead the new nation as its first president.

Patrick Henry, an orator and a lawyer, was a leader in Virginia politics for thirty years. He was one of the first radicals in the American Revolution.

"I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me Liberty, or give me Death!"

Patrick Henry was born on May 29th, 1736, in Hanover County, Virginia. He was a powerful orator and used this gift to promote the American Revolution. He is best known for the speech "Give me Liberty, or give me Death," at the House of Burgesses on March 23, 1775, in Saint John's Church in Richmond, Virginia.

He denounced corruption in government offices and is remembered for the defense of historic rights. He also criticized the British government for encouraging the church in its disrespectful behavior. These arguments made Henry very popular.

Political Career

In 1765, the Louisa County elected Patrick Henry to the House of Burgesses. There he proposed the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions, which became the colonial response to the Stamp Act, five of which were passed.

In 1774, attended the First Continental Congress, representing Virginia. He became colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment in August 1775. At the start of the Revolutionary War, he urged fellow Virginians to arm themselves in defense against the British troops led by Royal Governor Lord Dunmore. He led a group of soldiers against the British, and forced them to pay for gunpowder taken from an arsenal in Williamsburg, Virginia. This event became popular as the Gunpowder Incident.

At the Virginia Convention in May through July of 1776, Henry spoke in favor of American independence, which led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence by Congress . In the same year, Henry was elected as the first governor of Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of America, played a critical role in the American Revolution. Later, he would become the third American President.

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government."

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in Virginia. After an extensive school education, he studied law and joined the Virginia bar in 1767. He had a remarkable appetite for books, and his extensive reading habits helped him make very important authorial contributions to the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson in the American Revolution

Thomas Jefferson was part of the Second Continental Congress, where he represented the colony of Virginia. When the Congress decided to adopt a declaration of independence, Jefferson was part of the committee of five men appointed the task of drafting it. Part of the reason was that Jefferson had previously sent drafts for the constitution of Virginia, and so could draw on this experience.

During the Revolutionary War, he served as the governor of Virginia. One of the sore points in his political career during this time was the inability to defend Richmond against the attack by Benedict Arnold, who had defected to the British.

Later career and presidency

Jefferson won the presidential election of 1800, defeating John Adams in a close contest. Perhaps the most significant event during his term was the Louisiana Purchase, in which the Louisiana Territory was bought from France and added to the Union. During that time, the western regions still lay unexplored; Jefferson sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804 to explore and acquire these lands.

This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.” Benjamin Franklin played a key role in securing French cooperation for the American colonies, at a time when the Revolution needed all the help it could secure.

A man of many talents, Benjamin Franklin was an exceptional inventor, writer, and diplomat. He emerged as the strongest voice of support for the rights of the colonies against Britain, and was chosen as the United States Ambassador to France. He was unparalleled in tact and diplomacy, traits that helped him secure French cooperation, establish a successful newspaper, and become the governor of Pennsylvania.

Role in the American Revolution

Franklin considered Pennsylvania his home, and was chosen to represent the colony in the Second Continental Congress. He then became part of the Committee of Five who took on the important task of drafting the Declaration of Independence. In 1775, he established the first post office in the United States, and was appointed the first Postmaster General.

Perhaps the most critical role Benjamin Franklin played was that of ambassador to France from 1776 to 1785. By 1778, he had successfully secured financial and military aid from France, a development that tipped the scale in the colonies’ favor. Franklin was admired throughout France for his refined judgment and speech, much to the chagrin of the British. This adept utilization of French–British animosity made Franklin extremely popular in America.

After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Franklin again demonstrated his acumen by working out a treaty with the British, sidelining French officials who he knew would want to exploit their favorable relations with the colonies. He managed not only to secure total independence for the colonies, but also to meet and pacify the French.

After the Revolutionary War, Franklin became involved with the abolitionist movement, publishing several important works in this regard. With help from his efforts, slavery was finally abolished from the American soil.

John Adams was at the forefront of American Revolution: he was part of the First Continental Congress, and was instrumental in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

"Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power."

John Adams—who later became the second president of the United States—is known as the major thought-leader behind the American Revolution. He was part of the Continental Congress, and on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. A renowned constitutional lawyer, Adams personified the core values of Liberalism, and was a passionate student of history and politics.

Contribution to the American Revolution

John Adams influenced the direction of the Revolution well before it became a full-fledged rebellion. When the Stamp Act (1765) was put in place without considering any representation of the colonies, they revolted against the unfair legislation. John Adams drafted a set of instructions, known as the Braintree Instructions, which was sent to the representatives of Massachusetts to address the Stamp Act.. The instructions later spread to other legislatures and served to establish a strong and organized opposition. A short time later, Adams anonymously contributed newspaper articles, criticizing the Stamp Act for violating the fundamental rights of the people.

When a dispute arose between the Governor of Massachusetts and the House of Representatives, Adams wrote to the Governor and asserted that the colonists could not conceive of being under the British parliament, as they were only ruled by the king, and that the ideals of sovereignty and independence were inseparable.

As Part of the Continental Congress

John Adams represented Massachusetts in Continental Congress, which later urged the colonies to form their own constitutions. Right from the start, Adams believed it was necessary to break free from British control. This set in motion a mass movement to begin the process of forming a new government, a development that had far-reaching consequences in keeping the Revolution on fast-track.

The most important document John Adams published was Thoughts on Government (1776), which was his advice to the nation on how to form governments. He said that the only acceptable form of governance was that which worked toward the greater good:

"There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; because the very definition of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.' "

This document was also responsible for introducing the concept of a bicameral legislature.

Adams was part of the committee elected to draft the Declaration of Independence. While he was not directly involved in writing it, he strongly supported the declaration throughout the process. He was also part of the peacemaking delegation after the Battle of Long Island.

While the Revolutionary War was still on, John Adams was chosen to represent American interests in Europe. He successfully negotiated with the British authorities, and America successfully gained the rights to the Atlantic coast and much of the land.