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Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Forgotten Founders

ABOVE: 1876 Currier and Ives lithograph of Patrick Henry

Last night I heard a talk-radio host state that the majority of citizens in the United States cannot name more than a dozen Founding Fathers. I agreed with him and could only come up with 18 names myself. There is some debate over exactly how many of our Nation’s principle founders qualify for the title of “Father,” but I have compiled a list that includes the signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Articles of Confederation and signers of the U.S. Constitution. I then added a list of other political contributors worthy of mention. (Note: many names are repeated)


When examining the list I am amazed at how many names I am not familiar with. It also struck me that I could name the starting line-up of most of my favorite baseball teams (by season), yet I have no clue who half these guys are. It goes to show how we prioritize information and how limiting our teaching to a few “marquee” names can drastically narrow our historical knowledge.


I invite you to join me in exploring the lives of the forgotten founders. I plan on picking 10 ‘foreign’ names to investigate. I will share my findings by writing mini-bios in a future post. As enamored as I am with the Franklins, Adams, and Jeffersons of the group, I feel an obligation, not just as a historian, but as a citizen, to learn something about their overlooked peers.


The Signers of the Declaration of Independence


Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton,  

Rhode Island:  Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery 

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark 

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas M' Kean 

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carrol

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton 

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Thomas Lynch, Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


The Signers of the Articles of Confederation


New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, John Wentworth, Jr.

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, Francis Dana, James Lovell, Samuel Holten

Rhode Island: William Ellery, Henry Marchant, John Collins 

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, Oliver Wolcott, Titus Hosmer, Andrew Adams

New York:  James Duane, Francis Lewis, William Duer, Gouverneur Morris,  

New Jersey: John Witherspoon, Nathaniel Scudder 

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Daniel Roberdeau, Jonathan Bayard Smith, William Clingan, Joseph Reed

Delaware: Thomas McKean, John Dickinson, Nicholas Van Dyke 

Maryland: John Hanson, Daniel Carroll

Virginia: Richard Henry Lee, John Banister, Thomas Adams, John Harvie, Francis Lightfoot Lee 

North Carolina: John Penn, Cornelius Harnett, John Williams

South Carolina: Henry Laurens, William Henry Drayton, John Mathews, Richard Hutson, Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Georgia: John Walton, Edward Telfair, Edward Langworthy


The Signers of the U. S. Constitution


New Hampshire: John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman

Massachusetts: Rufus King, Nathaniel Gorham

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, William Samuel Johnson

New York: Alexander Hamilton

New Jersey: William Livingston, David Brearley, William Paterson, Jonathan Dayton 

Pennsylvania: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Thomas FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, Gouverneur Morris, James Wilson

Delaware: George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom

Maryland: James McHenry, Daniel Carroll, Dan of St. Thomas Jenifer 

Virginia: John Blair, James Madison, Jr., George Washington

North Carolina: William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson

South Carolina: John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler

Georgia: William Few, Abraham Baldwin


Others of Note


Ethan Allen, Richard Bland, George Clinton, Patrick Henry, John Jay, Henry Knox, Robert Livingston, James Monroe, Thomas Paine, Edmund Randolph, Charles Thomson

Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 2:03 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 13 October 2010 2:07 PM EDT
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