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The Founding Fathers

The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some other key contribution. Within the large group known as the "Founding Fathers", there are two key subsets: the "Signers of the Declaration of Independence" (who signed the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776) and the Framers of the Constitution (who were delegates to the Federal Convention and took part in framing or drafting the proposed Constitution of the United States).

Most historians define the "Founding Fathers" to mean a larger group, including not only the Signers and the Framers but also all those who, whether as politicians, jurists, statesmen, soldiers, diplomats, or ordinary citizens, took part in winning American independence and creating the United States of America.[2] American historian Richard B. Morris, in his 1973 book Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries, identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers:

  • Benjamin Franklin,
  • George Washington,
  • John Adams,
  • Thomas Jefferson,
  • John Jay,
  • James Madison,
  • and Alexander Hamilton.[3]

The newspaper publisher, Warren G. Harding, then a Republican Senator from Ohio, coined the phrase "Founding Fathers" in his keynote address to the 1916 Republican National Convention. He used it several times thereafter, most prominently in his 1921 inaugural address as President of the United States.[4]

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