Monthly Archives: April 2016

Common traits of the founding Fathers

Common traits of the founding Fathers:

  • They had careers and other interests that dominated their lives
  • They did not consider themselves career politicians. At the time there was no consideration given to term limits as their services took time away from their other concerns and was self-regulated.
  • They had an amazing command of the language regardless of the amount of their formal education.
  • They opposed slavery, Jefferson tended towards hypocrisy on this issue.
  • Emphasized tolerance of all religious dogmas, supported the moral teachings of Jesus as well as accepting many of the Deist concepts.
  • Did not agree on the role of the Central Government…. There was then, as today, much debate on this issue.

Summary

It seems that many of today’s agenda supporters subscribe their positions to the Founding Fathers, but their views lack substantial evidence.  It seems to me that they (the fathers) were, in general, just people and not perfect folks by any means. However, they were, as a general rule, extremely moral, tolerant, intelligent and sincerely concerned about the welfare of our new country and its citizens. Thankfully none considered their public service a career (with the possible exception of Hamilton).  For the most part they were satisfied with the original constitution sans amendments. The bills of rights (first 10 amendments) were the product of James Madison’s vision.

Benjamin Franklin:

Benjamin Franklin:

Politics: Franklin seemed not to concern himself with many of the so called “political” issue of his day regarding central government, state’s rights, etc. Rather, he focused on individual morality and espoused seeking personal virtues of:

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
  4. “Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”
  6. “Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.”
  11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”

Additionally he opposed the idea of slavery. While he did own two slaves at one time he did free them.

Occupation: Printer, librarian, newspaperman, publisher, postmaster and inventor.

Religion: Franklin retained a lifelong commitment to the Puritan virtues and political values he had grown up with, and through his civic work and publishing, he succeeded in passing these values into the American culture permanently. He had a “passion for virtue”. These Puritan values included his devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity and community spirit.  Franklin, steeped in Puritanism and an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical movement, rejected the salvation dogma, but embraced the radical notion of egalitarian democracy. One of Franklin’s notable characteristics was his respect, tolerance and promotion of all churches. Franklin’s rejection of dogma and doctrine and his stress on the God of ethics and morality and civic virtue made him the “prophet of tolerance.

“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure.[

Other facts: He served as President of Pennsylvania, proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read and established a “common-law” arrangement 7 years later, fathered an illegitimate son (William), published Poor William’s Almanac, invented bifocals, did not discover electricity, was inducted into the “chess” hall of fame, founded the American Philosophical Society to help scientific men discuss their discoveries and theories and served as Ambassador to France.

stay tuned next week for the wrap up on this topic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adams and Hamilton

John Adams:

Politics: A member of the Federalist Party and strong proponent for Centralized Government. Extremely opposed to slavery (never owned a slave).

Occupation: Lawyer/Farmer

Religion: Congregationalist and Christian Unitarian with Deist leanings.

Other facts: Successfully defended British soldiers regarding the Boston Massacre event.

Thomas Jefferson:

Politics: A member of the Democratic-Republican Party and an advocate of State’s rights.

Occupation: Lawyer/Farmer/Architect/Inventor among many talents.

Religion: Jefferson’s religious and spiritual beliefs were a combination of various religious and theological precepts. Around 1764, Jefferson had lost faith in conventional religion after he had tested the Bible for its historical accuracy. Rather he adopted a stern code of personal moral conduct and drew inspiration from classical literature.  While he embraced various Christian principles he rejected most of the orthodox Christianity of his day and was especially hostile to the Catholic Church as he saw it operate in France. Jefferson advanced the idea of Separation of Church and State, believing that the government should not have an official religion while at the same time it should not prohibit any particular religious expression. He first expressed these thoughts in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut.

Throughout his life Jefferson was intensely interested in theology, biblical study, and morality. As a landowner he played a role in governing his local Episcopal Church; in terms of belief he was inclined toward Deism and the moral philosophy of Christianity.

Other facts: Wrote the original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Sally’s Hemmings (reputed very close friend and slave of Jefferson) father was John Wayles, who held her as a slave, and he was also the father of Jefferson’s wife Martha. Sally was at least three-quarters white and strikingly similar in looks and voice to Jefferson’s late wife. He was opposed to the institution of slavery, yet owned in excess of 300 slaves near the end of his life! He only ever freed five of his slaves and then only through his will after his death. He passed within hours of his longtime opponent, yet friend, John Adams! He founded the University of Virginia and oversaw the Louisiana Purchase and the unsuccessful acquisition of Florida. He initiated the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Served as 2 term President, Vice President, Governor of Virginia, member of congress, Secretary of State & Minister to France.

Alexander Hamilton

Politics: He was a Federalist, opposed slavery and one of the foremost proponents of a strong centralized government.

Occupation: Import/Export Clerk, Carpenter & militiaman/officer & self-educated lawyer.

Religion: He was nominally an Episcopalian but, he was not clearly affiliated with the denomination and did not seem to attend church regularly or take communion. Like Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, Hamilton had probably fallen under the sway of deism, which sought to substitute reason for revelation and dropped the notion of an active God that will intervene in human affairs. At the same time, he never doubted God’s existence, embracing Christianity as a system of morality and cosmic justice

Other facts: Author of the Federalist Papers, was born out of wedlock and raised in the West Indies, served in the Congress, as Secretary of the Treasury, established the US mint and was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. He was never elected President, but much influenced early constitutional policy

stay tuned next week for more on this subject from additional Founding Fathers