It is hard to believe that one of the most powerful nations – the United States of America, was also once ruled over by a foreign power. The Great American Revolution that spanned for a period of 18 years, brought independence to the nation. The freedom struggle was led by the “Founding Fathers” of USA, a term coined in the 20th century by Warren G. Harding addressing the Signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
During the time of Independence, there were only thirteen colonies on the American continent, which came together to oppose the British Empire. Dozens of strong leaders played significant roles in the revolution and were delegates of the Constitution of 1776. In 1973, Richard B. Morris, known for pioneering work in legal American history, identified “seven colonialists” as the key Founding Fathers. Here we bring you those luminaries and details about their contribution to independence:
John Jay (1745 – 1829)
A diplomat and an author of the Federalist Papers, John Jay served as the first Chief Justice of the United States. He worked to ratify the Constitution and helped in enactment of laws that led to gradual emancipation of slaves. However, after numerous contributions to the nation, he was reluctant to resume judicial life in the later years. In the waning days of John Adam’s presidency, he was assured the position as Chief Justice once again, but he declined the offer and chose to retire to his farm in Westchester County, New York. On the night of May 14th, 1829, Jay was struck with palsy. He died three days later, and was buried in Rye, where he grew up. As of today, the Jay Cemetery is a significant part of the Boston Post Road Historic District.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
A polymath, inventor, scientist, politician, and diplomat – Benjamin Franklin was one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen. His image on the US $100 bill is evident of his contribution to the USA. Franklin made numerous scientific inventions during his lifetime, including bifocals, rocking chair and a flexible catheter. Apart from drafting the US constitution and signing the Treaty of Paris, he also played a significant role in abolition of slavery. He served as a President of Pennsylvania Society for promoting the abolition. In 1790, he petitioned the US Congress to end slavery and the slave trade. He suffered from obesity and died from pleuritic attack on April 17, 1790.
Thomas Jefferson (1743- 1826)
The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson is one of the most significant leaders in American history. He was one of the youngest delegates to the Second Continental Congress, which began in 1775, and was a close friend to John Adams, a then-emerging leader of Congress. His first term presidency was remarkably productive. In the first two years in office, he lowered the national debt and stripped the presidency of all the trappings of European royalty. At the age of 82, his health began to deteriorate, and he took his last breath on July 4th, 1826.
John Adams (1735 – 1826)
“There is no good government but what is republican.”
The first Vice President of Independent USA – John Adams was a dominant advocate of American independence from Great Britain. He published significant works, which focused on a state being sovereign republic. Ironically, he also died on 4th of July, 1826, and his last words “Thomas Jefferson survives,” acknowledged his longtime friend. However, he was unaware that Jefferson had died only few hours before, on the very same day.
Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757 – 1804)
First secretary of the treasury of the United States, Alexander Hamilton was a dominant author on Federalist papers. In 1777, he was an assistant to General George Washington and had convinced the Congress to ratify the constitution, by leading the Annapolis Convention in year 1786. He died on July 12, 1804, by sustaining a gun shot during a duel with Aaron Burr, the third vice-president of USA. It was conducted as Burr believed that Hamilton had insulted him. When they took shots at each other, Burr missed it, but Hamilton sustained a gruesome injury and died the next day.
James Madison (1751-1836)
The ideas and thoughts of James Madison shaped the nation of USA, and the rights which he established are still enjoyed by the citizens. Widely known as the Father of US Constitution, James Madison was the first person to arrive at the United States Constitutional convention. While waiting for other members to arrive, he began drafting the blueprint of “Virginia Plan.” He wrote numerous tactics on how the federal government must run, expressing his ideas about forming three different branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Madison also made a draft of “Bill of Rights” which defined the basic freedom rights of every individual. He died in Montpelier on the morning of June 28, 1836.
George Washington (1732-1799)
The first President of the United States, George Washington is the face on the US one-dollar bill. Washington had actively led his men against the main British forces in the battlefields of Revolutionary War. After the independence, he chose to resign from his post of commander-in-chief and went to cultivate his lands. After 20 years of service to the nation, Washington issued a public letter “Farewell Address” to people of America. He died from a throat infection on December 14, 1799, and his eulogy acknowledged him as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”