- The Age of Enlightenment shaped Ideals of liberty and freedom held by the United States founding fathers.
- The founding fathers were prominent statements whose outstanding contribution to the
The American Revolution was a war fought for the independence of the American colonies against England. Whereas the main agenda of the war was to achieve the political independence of America from England, the underlying force was the courage and the ideals held by the great personalities of the time. This section is to highlight their contribution to the revolutionary cause and humanity.
The Founding Fathers were consumers of the enlightenment philosophies of especially the 17th and 18th Century. The most influential figures of this time were
John Locke (1632 – 1704) John Locke is perhaps the most influential figure on the liberal political thinking. He was a philosopher and political theorist credited with the idea of social contract, the idea that the legitimacy of government depends on free consent given by the people to be governed. He wrote about liberty, religious tolerance and rights to life and property. He was a great inspiration to Thomas Jefferson, Madison, and Voltaire who were active in the American and French Revolutions.
Voltaire (1694 – 1778) He is known for his work Candide (1762) a satirical account that criticizes social convections. He is best acclaimed for promoting Republican Ideals owing to his critique of the absolute monarchy of France.
Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809) was a writer and political philosopher whose pamphlet Common Sense and Crisis influenced the American Revolution. He was acclaimed and suffered critics because of his works, which included Rights of Man, a defense of the French Revolution and republican principles; and The Age of Reason, an exposition of the place of religion in society.
The Founding Fathers
Prominent Statesmen that led the colonies to demand and fight for freedoms are regarded as the Americas’ founding fathers. The contribution is regarding war strategy and engagement in the battlefield and even though leaders, of mainly the liberal ideas that captured by the Declaration of Independence, framers of the constitution among others. They were:
Adam Smith (1735 – 1826) His parents were among the early Puritan settlers of New England. He studied law at Harvard University, was among the most prominent leaders in the resistance movements. He wrote a dissertation discussing the right of the English Parliament to levy taxes on colonists titled “A dissertation on canon and feudal law.” This was in response to the Stamp Acts and the Townshend Act. His is best celebrated for his participation during the first and second Continental Congress, an author of the Massachusetts Constitution (1780), signer of the Treaty of Paris (1783) first American ambassador to the Court of St. James (1785–88), and first vice president (1789–97) and second president (1797–1801) of the United States.
Samuel Adams (1722—1803) was a radical figure and Massachusetts leader during the American Revolution. He was a delegate in the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. He was a lieutenant governor (1789–93) and governor (1794–97) of Massachusetts.
Benjamin Franklin, (1706 – 1790) pseudonym Richard Saunders. He was a scientist, author, printer and publisher. He also contributed in the drafting the Declaration of Independence and was among its signers. He helped was among the delegates in France during the Revolution and Constitutional Convection. He made contributions in science, especially in the understanding of electricity.
Patrick Henry (1736 – 1799) was a great orator and a prominent figure during the American Revolution. He was the first governor of Virginia (1776-79, 1784 – 86) and a delegate to the two Continental Congresses and drafted the first constitution of the state. He made a speech sharing his convictions on the inevitability of the war with Britain over the freedom of America and equipped the militia in Virginia to stand against the British with the famed declamation ‘I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” During the war, he supported Washington by sending militia to boost his troops.
Thomas Jefferson, (1743 – 1826). He is acclaimed for drafting the Declaration of Independence of the United States. He was America’s first secretary of state (1789–94), second vice president (1797–1801), and, as the third president (1801–09). He the leader during the Louisiana Purchase one of the single most important events in American history. He espoused ideals of separation of church and states, contributed to the establishment of the University of Virginia and emphasized that the freedom of the individual was the core of the revolutionary movement. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial was dedicated to him at the 200th Anniversary of his birth.
James Madison, (1751 – 1836), fourth president of the United States (1809–17) He influenced the planning and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. During his tenure in the House of Representative, he single-handedly sponsored the first ten amendments to the United States, referred to as the Bill of Rights.
John Marshall, (1755.— 1835,), was the principal founder of the U.S principal of Constitutional law and the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He is celebrated for asserting the Independence of the Supreme Court over within the federal system of the United States. In Marbury vs. Madison (1803), he established the Supreme Courts mandate to extrapolate on Constitutional law and exercise judicial review by declaring specific laws unconstitutional. In McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819), he upheld the power of Congress to create the Bank of the United States and declared unconstitutional for states to tax instruments of federal government. In the same ruling, he asserted the role of the court in interpretation of the constitution, the powers of the organs within the federal system and the democratic nature of the U.S government. He rejected slavery and the constitutional gaps that enabled slavery despite being a Southerner and called it “disgraceful to mankind.”
George Washington, (1732 – 1799), was a commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the armed resistance to Britain and helped deliver America’s victory during the Revolution.