The founders of our Democratic Republic, some interesting facts

Chapter 13

The founders of our Democratic Republic, some interesting facts

I find that I hear quite a bit of rhetoric regarding the founding fathers and what they originally intended. Most of what is bandied about, in my opinion is pure hogwash. Where we tend to be in mutual agreement is that if they were alive today they would be extremely disappointed in what they have spawned.

A brief summary of the early days and revolutionary times add value to this subject.

Historians generally agree that during the revolution there where three competing groups: 1/3 of the people considered themselves patriots of the newly declared republic, 1/3 were loyalists to the crown (and considered the rebels to be traitors) and 1/3 were apathetic. My view is a bit different. When you consider that apathy tends to rule the day I would speculate that the ratios were more in the 20%, 20% & 60% (apathetic) range. Both loyalists and rebels considered themselves “patriots”. The revolution was initiated, primarily, by the merchant class in revolt against the trade taxes imposed by the “crown”.

The resident “Americans” of the day sided with the British and loyalists primarily because they treated that group considerably more respect than the revolutionists. Historians generally concur, that without French support, the outcome of the revolution would have been considerably different.

But I digress, what I want to examine are the attitudes and views of a few of our more significant leaders relative to the founding principles of the new country (from Wikipedia):

 George Washington:

Politics: Member of the Federalist Party, maintained a balanced view of state’s rights vs. authority of the central government. Owned slaves, but eventually opposed slavery and willed their release after the death of Martha. was a huge proponent of neutrality in foreign affairs. In 1793, he declared that the US would be impartial towards powers currently at war.

Occupation: surveyor/farmer/General

Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian (American version of the Church of England). Even during his lifetime, people were unsure of the degree to which Washington believed in Christianity. As noted above, some of his contemporaries called him a deist. Debate continues to this day regarding whether he is best categorized as a deist or as a Christian, and some writers have introduced other terms to describe a blending of the two. Washington held that all religions, and nearly all religious practices, were beneficial to humans. On some occasions, such as during the Constitutional Convention, he attended Presbyterian, Catholic, and Friends Sunday services. Washington was an early supporter of religious toleration and freedom of religion. In 1775, he ordered that his troops not show anti-Catholic sentiments by burning the pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Night.  When hiring workmen for Mount Vernon, he wrote to his agent, “If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans [Muslims], Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.”  In 1790, Washington expressed his support for religious tolerance where in a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island he stated, “May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Other facts: Only president to be elected unanimously (received all electoral votes). He served only two terms, despite no term restrictions at the time. Fathered no children, has two step children & did not chop down a cherry tree!

stay tuned next week for more on this subject from other of our Founding Fathers