One of the greatest contradictions of the Founding Fathers was their disunity with regard to slavery at a time that they were seeking liberty for themselves. In her study of "Thomas Jefferson, historian Annette Gordon-Reed emphasizes this irony, "Others of the founders held slaves, but no other founder drafted the charter for freedom, " In addition to Jefferson, "George Washington, "John Jay and many other of the Founding Fathers practiced slavery but were also conflicted by the institution which many saw as immoral and politically divisive. "Benjamin Franklin owned slaves (though Franklin later became an "abolitionist). "John Jay would try unsuccessfully to abolish slavery as early as 1777 in New York State but was overruled (though he would later sign the Gradual Emancipation Act into law while Governor). "Alexander Hamilton opposed slavery, well familiar with slavery and its effect on slaves and on slaveholders  though he negotiated slave transactions for his wife's family, the Schuylers  John Adams, Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine never owned slaves 
"Slaves and slavery are mentioned only indirectly in the 1787 Constitution. For example, "Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 prescribes that "three fifths of all other Persons" are to be counted for the apportionment of seats in the "House of Representatives and direct taxes. Additionally, in "Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3, slaves are referred to as "persons held in service or labor". The Founding Fathers, however, did make important efforts to contain slavery. Many Northern states had adopted legislation to end or significantly reduce slavery during and after the American Revolution. In 1782 "Virginia passed a "manumission law that allowed slave owners to free their slaves by will or deed. As a result, thousands of slaves were manumitted in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, in 1784, proposed to ban slavery in all the Western Territories, which failed to pass Congress by one vote. Partially following Jefferson's plan, Congress did ban slavery in the "Northwest Ordinance of 1787, for lands north of the "Ohio River.
The "international slave trade was banned in all states except "South Carolina, by 1800. Finally in 1807, President Jefferson called for and signed into law a Federally-enforced ban on the international slave trade throughout the U.S. and its territories. It became a federal crime to import or export a slave. However, the domestic "slave trade was allowed, for expansion, or for diffusion of slavery into the "Louisiana Territory.
In the winter and spring of 1786–1787, twelve of the thirteen states chose a total of 74 delegates to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Nineteen delegates chose not to accept election or attend the debates; for example, "Patrick Henry of Virginia thought that state politics were far more interesting and important than national politics, though during the ratification controversy of 1787–1788 he claimed, "I smelled a rat." Rhode Island did not send delegates because of its politicians' suspicions of the Convention delegates' motivations. As the colony was founded by "Roger Williams as a sanctuary for "Baptists, Rhode Island's absence at the Convention in part explains the absence of Baptist affiliation among those who did attend. Of the 55 who did attend at some point, no more than 38 delegates showed up at one time.
Most of the Founding Fathers married and had children. Many of their spouses, like "Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, "Martha Washington, "Abigail Adams, Sarah Livingston Jay, "Dolley Madison, Mary White Morris and Catherine Alexander Duer were strong women and made significant contributions of their own to the fight for liberty.
Sherman fathered the largest family: 15 children by two wives. At least nine (Bassett, Brearly, Johnson, Mason, Paterson, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Sherman, Wilson, and Wythe) married more than once. Four (Baldwin, Gilman, Jenifer, and Alexander Martin) were lifelong "bachelors. Many of the delegates also had children conceived "illegitimately. George Washington, "The Father of our Country," had no biological descendants.
The "National Archives and Records Administration also known as NARA, defines America's Founding Documents or "Charters of Freedom as the Declaration of Independence (1776), The Constitution (1787) and the Bill of Rights (1791). These original instruments which represent the philosophy of our young nation are housed in Washington, D. C. in the NARA Rotunda. The "Library of Congress further identifies the Articles of Confederation, also preserved at NARA, as a primary American document. Th Articles of Confederation served as the first constitution of the United States until its replacement by the present Constitution on March 4, 1789.
Signatories of two of the Charters of Freedom, The Articles of Confederation and the Continental Association are indicated below. (Continental Association (CA), Declaration of Independence (DI), Articles of Confederation (AC), and the United States Constitution (USC)):
|Name||Province/State||CA (1774)||DI (1776)||AC (1777)||USC (1787)|
|"John Alsop||"New York||Yes|
|"Josiah Bartlett||"New Hampshire||Yes||Yes|
|"Gunning Bedford, Jr.||"Delaware||Yes|
|"William Blount||"North Carolina||Yes|
|"Simon Boerum||"New York||Yes|
|"David Brearley||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"Pierce Butler||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Charles Carroll of Carrollton||"Maryland||Yes|
|"Richard Caswell||"North Carolina||Yes|
|"Abraham Clark||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"John Collins||"Rhode Island||Yes|
|"Stephen Crane||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"Jonathan Dayton||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"John De Hart||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"William Henry Drayton||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"James Duane||"New York||Yes||Yes|
|"William Duer||"New York||Yes|
|"William Ellery||"Rhode Island||Yes||Yes|
|"William Floyd||"New York||Yes||Yes|
|"Nathaniel Folsom||"New Hampshire||Yes|
|"Christopher Gadsden||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Nicholas Gilman||"New Hampshire||Yes|
|"Alexander Hamilton||"New York||Yes|
|"Cornelius Harnett||"North Carolina||Yes|
|"John Hart||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"Joseph Hewes||"North Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|"Thomas Heyward, Jr.||"South Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|"William Hooper||"North Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|"Stephen Hopkins||"Rhode Island||Yes||Yes|
|"Francis Hopkinson||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"Richard Hutson||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"John Jay||"New York||Yes|
|"Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer||"Maryland||Yes|
|"William Samuel Johnson||"Connecticut||Yes|
|"James Kinsey||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"John Langdon||"New Hampshire||Yes|
|"Henry Laurens||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Francis Lightfoot Lee||"Virginia||Yes||Yes|
|"Richard Henry Lee||"Virginia||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|"Francis Lewis||"New York||Yes||Yes|
|"Philip Livingston||"New York||Yes||Yes|
|"William Livingston||"New Jersey||Yes||Yes|
|"Isaac Low||"New York||Yes|
|"Thomas Lynch||"South Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|"Henry Marchant||"Rhode Island||Yes|
|"John Mathews||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Arthur Middleton||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Henry Middleton||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Gouverneur Morris||"New York||Yes|
|"Lewis Morris||"New York||Yes|
|"Thomas Nelson, Jr.||"Virginia||Yes|
|"Robert Treat Paine||"Massachusetts||Yes||Yes|
|"William Paterson||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"John Penn||"North Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|"Charles Pinckney||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Charles Cotesworth Pinckney||"South Carolina||Yes|
|"Edward Rutledge||"South Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|"John Rutledge||"South Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|"Nathaniel Scudder||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"Jonathan Bayard Smith||"Pennsylvania||Yes|
|"Richard Smith||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"Richard Dobbs Spaight||"North Carolina||Yes|
|"Richard Stockton||"New Jersey||Yes|
|"John Sullivan||"New Hampshire||Yes|
|"Matthew Thornton||"New Hampshire||Yes|
|"Nicholas Van Dyke||"Delaware||Yes|
|"Samuel Ward||"Rhode Island||Yes|
|"John Wentworth, Jr.||"New Hampshire||Yes|
|"William Whipple||"New Hampshire||Yes|
|"John Williams||"North Carolina||Yes|
|"Hugh Williamson||"North Carolina||Yes|
|"Henry Wisner||"New York||Yes|
|"John Witherspoon||"New Jersey||Yes||Yes|
Subsequent events in the lives of the Founding Fathers after the adoption of the Constitution were characterized by success or failure, reflecting the abilities of these men as well as the vagaries of fate. Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison served in America's highest office of President. Jay would be elected to two terms as Governor of New York.
Seven (Fitzsimons, Gorham, Luther Martin, Mifflin, Robert Morris, Pierce, and Wilson) suffered serious financial reversals that left them in or near bankruptcy; in fact, Robert Morris spent three of the last years of his life imprisoned following bad land deals. Two, Blount and Dayton, were involved in possibly treasonous activities. Yet, as they had done before the convention, most of the group continued to render public service, particularly to the new government they had helped to create.
Many of the Founding Fathers were under 40 years old at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 "James Armistead Lafayette was 15, "Marquis de Lafayette was 18, "Aaron Burr was 20, "Gouverneur Morris and "Betsy Ross were 24. The oldest were Benjamin Franklin, 70 and "Samuel Whittemore, 81.
Secretary "Charles Thomson lived to the age of 94. Johnson died at 92. John Adams lived to the age of 90. A few — Franklin, Jay, Jefferson, Madison, "Hugh Williamson, and "George Wythe — lived into their eighties. Approximately 16 died in their seventies, 21 in their sixties, 8 in their fifties, and 5 in their forties. Three ("Alexander Hamilton, "Richard Dobbs Spaight and "Button Gwinnett) were killed in "duels.
Political adversaries John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the same day - July 4, 1826 
The last remaining founders, also called the ""Last of the Romans", lived well into the nineteenth century.
The following men and women are also recognized by many as having been founders of the United States based upon their significant contributions to the formation of American nation and democracy.
Several Founding Fathers were instrumental in establishing schools and cultural institutions that still exist today:
Articles and books by 21st century historians combined with the digitization of primary sources like handwritten letters continue to contribute to an encyclopedic body of knowledge about the Founding Fathers.
"Ron Chernow won the "Pulitzer Prize for his biography of George Washington. His bestselling book about Alexander Hamilton inspired the blockbuster musical of the same name.
"Joseph J. Ellis - According to Ellis, the concept of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. emerged in the 1820s as the last survivors died out. Ellis says "the founders", or "the fathers", comprised an aggregate of semi-sacred figures whose particular accomplishments and singular achievements were decidedly less important than their sheer presence as a powerful but faceless symbol of past greatness. For the generation of national leaders coming of age in the 1820s and 1830s – men like "Andrew Jackson, "Henry Clay, "Daniel Webster, and "John C. Calhoun – "the founders" represented a heroic but anonymous abstraction whose long shadow fell across all followers and whose legendary accomplishments defied comparison.
"We can win no laurels in a war for independence," Webster acknowledged in 1825. "Earlier and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are there places for us ... [as] the founders of states. Our fathers have filled them. But there remains to us a great duty of defence and preservation."
"Joanne B. Freeman Freeman's area of expertise is the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton as well as political culture of the revolutionary and early national eras. Freeman has documented the often opposing visions of the Founding Fathers as they tried to build a new framework for governance, "Regional distrust, personal animosity, accusation, suspicion, implication, and denouncement—this was the tenor of national politics from the outset.” 
"Annette Gordon-Reed is an American historian and "Harvard Law School professor. She is noted for changing scholarship on "Thomas Jefferson regarding his relationship with "Sally Hemings and her children. She has studied the challenges facing the Founding Fathers particularly as it relates to their position and actions on slavery. She points out "the central dilemma at the heart of American democracy: the desire to create a society based on liberty and equality" that yet does not extend those privileges to all." 
"Jack N. Rakove - Thomas Jefferson
"Peter S. Onuf - Thomas Jefferson
The Founders Online is a searchable database of over 178,000 documents authored by or addressed to George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.
The Founding Fathers were portrayed in the "Tony Award winning musical "1776, a stage production about the debates over, and eventual adoption of, the "Declaration of Independence; the popular performance was later turned into the "1972 film
More recently, several of the Founding Fathers - Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Laurens and Burr - were reimagined in "Hamilton an acclaimed production about the life of "Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics and book by "Lin-Manuel Miranda.The show was inspired by the 2004 biography "Alexander Hamilton by historian "Ron Chernow.The groundbreaking rap musical won 11 Tony Awards 
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