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Difference between revisions of "Founding Fathers"

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(having an entire section devoted to one random nobody probably isn't the best way to go, either)
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The "'''founding fathers'''" are a loosely defined group of men who were instrumental to the creation of what we now know as the [[United States|United States of America]].
 
The "'''founding fathers'''" are a loosely defined group of men who were instrumental to the creation of what we now know as the [[United States|United States of America]].
  
In general, they include the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and those who worked on drafting the [[United States Constitution|U.S. Constitution]] eleven years later.
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In general, they include the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and those who worked on drafting the [[United States Constitution|U.S. Constitution]] and its [[Bill of Rights]] eleven years later.
 +
== Who is a founding father? ==
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There are over 130 people who can be considered to be among the  founding fathers of the [[United States]], and nobody has heard of most of them (but God help you if you run into one of their spawn at a party in the Hamptons).<ref>[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founding_Fathers_of_the_United_States#List_of_the_Founding_Fathers List of Founding Fathers]</ref>  According to the guy everyone agrees is the best American historian ever, the seven most important founding fathers were Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.<ref>[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_B._Morris Richard B. Morris] in his 1973 book ''Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries''.</ref>  So nobody else mattered.
  
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These seven people were particularly instrumental in the shape the country was to take, but many of the 126 other official founding fathers did and said a lot of important things too. 
 +
 +
And who says it's all about the A-List?  There were thousands of people across the country who are not officially considered founding fathers yet who had great influence.  James Iredell is not an official founding father but he's hardly just some Carolina cracker.  Iredell sat on the very first Supreme Court and wrote the lone dissent in ''[[Chisholm v. Georgia]]'', disagreeing with FF A-Listers John Jay, James Wilson and John Blair.  Everyone was so mad at the A-Listers that the country just two years later ratified the [[Eleventh Amendment]] overturning their ruling.  Iredell helped organize the court system of North Carolina, and some manifesto he wrote predated the Declaration of Independence but said a lot of the same stuff and his dissent became the Eleventh Amendment, more-or-less. Yet he's B-List, if even.
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Citing the founding fathers is tricky with even the A-List founders and their wildly divergent opinions, to say nothing if you start to include B-Listers like Iredell. 
 +
== Some dads ==
 
For no good reason, here is a short list of the better known Original Daddies:
 
For no good reason, here is a short list of the better known Original Daddies:
 
*[[George Washington]] - slept here, stood up in boats, first [[President of the United States|President]].
 
*[[George Washington]] - slept here, stood up in boats, first [[President of the United States|President]].
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*[[John Marshall]] - Pretty much created the American judiciary system as we know it.
 
*[[John Marshall]] - Pretty much created the American judiciary system as we know it.
 
*[[John Jay]] - First chief justice of the Supreme Court, but not as influential as Marshall; one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
 
*[[John Jay]] - First chief justice of the Supreme Court, but not as influential as Marshall; one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
*[[Patrick Henry]] - Known for being the "voice of the revolution" he is also the fundies favorite founder.
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*[[Patrick Henry]] - Known for being the "voice of the revolution" he is also the [[fundamentalism|fundamentalist]]'s favorite founder.
 
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== Some of the moms ==
Believe it or not there were several important foundin mothers.  Important ladies include:
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Believe it or not, there were several important founding mothers.  Important ladies include:
 
*Martha Washington - First First Lady
 
*Martha Washington - First First Lady
 
*Abigail Adams - Kept John Adams grounded.
 
*Abigail Adams - Kept John Adams grounded.
*Betsy Ross - Designed the American flag, at least according to legand.
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*Betsy Ross - Designed the American flag, at least according to legend.
 
*"Molly Pitcher" - The wife of an officer who took over her husband's post after he was wounded.
 
*"Molly Pitcher" - The wife of an officer who took over her husband's post after he was wounded.
 
*Dolly Madison - Saved much of the White House's art during the War of 1812.
 
*Dolly Madison - Saved much of the White House's art during the War of 1812.
Proponents of the legal doctrine of [[originalism]] often make references to these men and their thoughts on such issues as stem cell research, automatic weapons, and prayer in school.
 
  
While [[fundamentalism|fundamentalist]] [[Christianity|Christians]] like to claim that all these men were devout Christians, in truth most were, at best, [[deism|deists]], and they were, above all, [[secularism|secularists]].  
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== They shared the same uncompromised beliefs about everything ==
 +
<blockquote>''Surely the people who wrote and signed the Constitution of the United States of America can be trusted to tell us what it means.  Original letters written in their own words give us a much truer understanding of their intentions than third party commentaries written a hundred years later.'' - ChristianParents.com<ref>[http://www.christianparents.com/ffathers.htm ChristianParents.com]</ref></blockquote>
 +
[[File:Originalism in Constitutional Law.jpg|thumb|350px|What it was like.]]The quote above is true if you assume that these 130 people ''all'' believed the same things; that the founding fathers were an intellectual monolithic entity that knew exactly the effect off all their words; that no debate nor compromise was involved in the writing of the [[Constitution]]; and that wording was was not purposefully vague because they could not agree on their meanings at the framing. 
 +
 
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This line of reasoning should lead you to question why the founding fathers even felt the need for a [[Supreme Court]], since everyone knew what the Constitution said and meant.
 +
 
 +
So you've dug up some founding father who wrote something that backs up what you think, and this is great.  Because now whatever belief you hold is shared by the monolithic founding fathers and you can pull out your quote to prove you are right. 
 +
 
 +
Here's how to overcome some pitfalls.  In the unlikely event somebody in earshot has read a book and says "[[Chisholm_v._Georgia|"How can you say that?  These men were immediately arguing in the Supreme Court about what they meant in the Constitution!]]" you should say that was all just [[Marbury_v._Madison|pencil sharpening]], and tell them to stop with the liberal claptrap. 
 +
 
 +
If you cite the founding fathers "original intent", it's possible that someone will point out that there were founding fathers who thought and wrote the exact opposite things that you're claiming.  History calls some of this nonsense "Federalist v. Anti-Federalist"; "Big State v. Little State"; and "Federalism v. Republicanism". 
 +
 
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To win, just say that particular founding father was an idiot everyone actually hated.<ref>[http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/05/21/Texas-school-board-reinstates-Jefferson/UPI-78131274486345/ Texas school board "reinstates" Jefferson]</ref>  Say that "the founding fathers believed X and founding father Y wrote this in a letter" and the implication is that they all believed as founding father Y, whose ideas were cheered and adopted by everyone!  Argument won, because you get to say, whoever you are arguing with over whatever position, that it is [[Originalism|originalist]]. 
 +
 
 +
Proponents of the legal doctrine of originalism often make references to these 130 men and what they thought about stem cell research, automatic weapons, segregation,<ref>[http://www.frumforum.com/rand-pauls-america Rand Paul's America]</ref> and the humor of George Carlin.<ref>[http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=438&invol=726 FCC v. Pacifica]</ref>
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== Christian soldiers or satanic atheists? ==
 +
While [[fundamentalism|fundamentalist]] [[Christianity|Christians]] like to claim that all these men were devout Christians. In truth, most were, at best, [[deism|deists]], and they were, above all, [[secularism|secularists]].  
  
 
It was Benjamin Franklin who edited out Thomas Jefferson's initial line in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be sacred..." and changed it to: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."  So much the worse for the theory of a Christian source for the founding document. Instead of being held up as sacred revealed truths, the rights are held up as purely intellectual axioms accepted by the founding fathers as the basis for rights.
 
It was Benjamin Franklin who edited out Thomas Jefferson's initial line in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be sacred..." and changed it to: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."  So much the worse for the theory of a Christian source for the founding document. Instead of being held up as sacred revealed truths, the rights are held up as purely intellectual axioms accepted by the founding fathers as the basis for rights.
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Conservatives counter that no matter how unorthodox Thomas Jefferson was in regards to religion, he, along with the other founders, most certainly believed that [[God]] was the source of our human rights. But in that event, the word "God" becomes meaningless, because the God of Christianity (and [[Judaism]], and [[Islam]]...) grants no rights in the various scriptures. There are only bald assertions by a group of men coming out of the [[Enlightenment]] period that a vague fuzzy deist "God" established the rights, and this is held as a matter of unquestioned "self-evident" truth.
 
Conservatives counter that no matter how unorthodox Thomas Jefferson was in regards to religion, he, along with the other founders, most certainly believed that [[God]] was the source of our human rights. But in that event, the word "God" becomes meaningless, because the God of Christianity (and [[Judaism]], and [[Islam]]...) grants no rights in the various scriptures. There are only bald assertions by a group of men coming out of the [[Enlightenment]] period that a vague fuzzy deist "God" established the rights, and this is held as a matter of unquestioned "self-evident" truth.
  
Finally it should be remembered that the founders were a diverse group of people (especially the ones not listed here) who had a diverse group of thoughts as to the shape that the country's future should take.  For example, at times John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were political allies, while at other times they hated each others guts (oddly enough many of these disputes seem to come back to Jefferson in one way or another).  Naturally, many of our modern political disputes often have roots in their arguments.
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== Footnotes ==
 +
<references />
  
 
[[Category:History]]
 
[[Category:History]]

Revision as of 03:45, 26 May 2010

Some founding fathers signing the Constitution

The "founding fathers" are a loosely defined group of men who were instrumental to the creation of what we now know as the United States of America.

In general, they include the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and those who worked on drafting the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights eleven years later.

Who is a founding father?

There are over 130 people who can be considered to be among the founding fathers of the United States, and nobody has heard of most of them (but God help you if you run into one of their spawn at a party in the Hamptons).[1] According to the guy everyone agrees is the best American historian ever, the seven most important founding fathers were Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.[2] So nobody else mattered.

These seven people were particularly instrumental in the shape the country was to take, but many of the 126 other official founding fathers did and said a lot of important things too.

And who says it's all about the A-List? There were thousands of people across the country who are not officially considered founding fathers yet who had great influence. James Iredell is not an official founding father but he's hardly just some Carolina cracker. Iredell sat on the very first Supreme Court and wrote the lone dissent in Chisholm v. Georgia, disagreeing with FF A-Listers John Jay, James Wilson and John Blair. Everyone was so mad at the A-Listers that the country just two years later ratified the Eleventh Amendment overturning their ruling. Iredell helped organize the court system of North Carolina, and some manifesto he wrote predated the Declaration of Independence but said a lot of the same stuff and his dissent became the Eleventh Amendment, more-or-less. Yet he's B-List, if even.

Citing the founding fathers is tricky with even the A-List founders and their wildly divergent opinions, to say nothing if you start to include B-Listers like Iredell.

Some dads

For no good reason, here is a short list of the better known Original Daddies:

  • George Washington - slept here, stood up in boats, first President.
  • Benjamin Franklin - all around smart guy, noted womanizer.
  • Thomas Jefferson - scribbled the Declaration of Independence on the back of love letter envelopes.
  • Alexander Hamilton - appears on the ten dollar bill, really wanted a strong state and banks, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
  • Samuel Adams - brought the beer, in an eerie presaging of George W. Bush.
  • John Adams - cousin of the above, both best friend and worst enemy of Thomas Jefferson (sometimes simultaneously).
  • James Madison - wrote the rough drafts of the Constitution; one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
  • Thomas Paine - Stirred the country to war, then wrote the best defense of religious freedom ever.
  • John Marshall - Pretty much created the American judiciary system as we know it.
  • John Jay - First chief justice of the Supreme Court, but not as influential as Marshall; one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
  • Patrick Henry - Known for being the "voice of the revolution" he is also the fundamentalist's favorite founder.

Some of the moms

Believe it or not, there were several important founding mothers. Important ladies include:

  • Martha Washington - First First Lady
  • Abigail Adams - Kept John Adams grounded.
  • Betsy Ross - Designed the American flag, at least according to legend.
  • "Molly Pitcher" - The wife of an officer who took over her husband's post after he was wounded.
  • Dolly Madison - Saved much of the White House's art during the War of 1812.

They shared the same uncompromised beliefs about everything

Surely the people who wrote and signed the Constitution of the United States of America can be trusted to tell us what it means. Original letters written in their own words give us a much truer understanding of their intentions than third party commentaries written a hundred years later. - ChristianParents.com[3]
What it was like.
The quote above is true if you assume that these 130 people all believed the same things; that the founding fathers were an intellectual monolithic entity that knew exactly the effect off all their words; that no debate nor compromise was involved in the writing of the Constitution; and that wording was was not purposefully vague because they could not agree on their meanings at the framing.

This line of reasoning should lead you to question why the founding fathers even felt the need for a Supreme Court, since everyone knew what the Constitution said and meant.

So you've dug up some founding father who wrote something that backs up what you think, and this is great. Because now whatever belief you hold is shared by the monolithic founding fathers and you can pull out your quote to prove you are right.

Here's how to overcome some pitfalls. In the unlikely event somebody in earshot has read a book and says ""How can you say that? These men were immediately arguing in the Supreme Court about what they meant in the Constitution!" you should say that was all just pencil sharpening, and tell them to stop with the liberal claptrap.

If you cite the founding fathers "original intent", it's possible that someone will point out that there were founding fathers who thought and wrote the exact opposite things that you're claiming. History calls some of this nonsense "Federalist v. Anti-Federalist"; "Big State v. Little State"; and "Federalism v. Republicanism".

To win, just say that particular founding father was an idiot everyone actually hated.[4] Say that "the founding fathers believed X and founding father Y wrote this in a letter" and the implication is that they all believed as founding father Y, whose ideas were cheered and adopted by everyone! Argument won, because you get to say, whoever you are arguing with over whatever position, that it is originalist.

Proponents of the legal doctrine of originalism often make references to these 130 men and what they thought about stem cell research, automatic weapons, segregation,[5] and the humor of George Carlin.[6]

Christian soldiers or satanic atheists?

While fundamentalist Christians like to claim that all these men were devout Christians. In truth, most were, at best, deists, and they were, above all, secularists.

It was Benjamin Franklin who edited out Thomas Jefferson's initial line in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be sacred..." and changed it to: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." So much the worse for the theory of a Christian source for the founding document. Instead of being held up as sacred revealed truths, the rights are held up as purely intellectual axioms accepted by the founding fathers as the basis for rights.

Thomas Jefferson said that the Declaration of Independence was "an expression of the American mind." Now, if he had said it was "an expression of the American faith", like the religious right currently claims (and retrojects into the document), they might have a point.

Conservatives counter that no matter how unorthodox Thomas Jefferson was in regards to religion, he, along with the other founders, most certainly believed that God was the source of our human rights. But in that event, the word "God" becomes meaningless, because the God of Christianity (and Judaism, and Islam...) grants no rights in the various scriptures. There are only bald assertions by a group of men coming out of the Enlightenment period that a vague fuzzy deist "God" established the rights, and this is held as a matter of unquestioned "self-evident" truth.

Footnotes

  1. List of Founding Fathers
  2. Richard B. Morris in his 1973 book Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries.
  3. ChristianParents.com
  4. Texas school board "reinstates" Jefferson
  5. Rand Paul's America
  6. FCC v. Pacifica