As we prepare to celebrate the United States of America’s 239th birthday the weekend with the requisite overdose of grilled foods, cold beverages, and fireworks, it seems appropriate that the Founding Fathers have found their way back into the headlines.
The Supreme Court, created by these historical giants, has rocked the political world with its recent nation-changing rulings, bringing the debate about the plans these long-dead men had for our country to the fore once again.
For all of the yelling and screaming about the framer’s intentions, it is surprising (to the degree that we can still be surprised by anything in the political sphere) that people so often speak about the founders without any real discussion of who they were and why they did the things that they did.
From one point of view, these men were the ultimate products of the Enlightenment, standing up against tyranny to create “a more perfect union” that would light the way for democratic modernity. From another, the revolution was a colonial rebellion over taxes, led by lawyers and rabble rousers, in which the colonies ultimately proved more trouble than they were worth to the Brits. (That little rebellion then accidentally triggered the French Revolution, the actual world changing event.)
As always, the truth is somewhere between these two extremes.
With their dual roles as historical giants and fallible men in mind, we pay tribute to those who created our nation. Here are the 12 most important founding Fathers (including a Mother), ranked for your enjoyment.
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