“Founders’ Son”: The Fathers in Abraham Lincoln’s Life

When Abraham Lincoln departed his Springfield, Illinois home in 1861, to be inaugurated as the sixteenth President of the United States, he told his friends and neighbors that the task before him was “more difficult than that which devolved upon General Washington.” One could argue the historical accuracy of that claim, but all must agree […]

The Colossus of Independence

The morning of July 1, 1776, dawned hot and humid. Before the morning ended a summer storm engulfed Philadelphia. John Adams woke before the dawn. He dress, wrote a letter to Archibald Bulloch, ate breakfast, and walked to the State House. “This morning is assigned the greatest debate of all,” he told Bulloch. “A declaration, […]

“Inventing Freedom”: A Book Review

On May 9, 2014, in America, Books, Declaration of Independence, Freedom, History, Liberty, U.S. Constitution, by Derrick G. Jeter

In the midst of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln observed that “the world has never had a good definition of the word liberty . . . [but was] much in want of one.” It was true then; it is true now. In Lincoln’s context the issue was slavery. “With some the word liberty may […]

Founding Fathers Friday: Abraham Baldwin

In the late eighteenth century, Georgia was America’s far-flung and backwoods colony. More of an appendix than a vital organ to the overall wellbeing of the original thirteen. Large in land, Georgia was puny in population—in 1787 it boasted of approximately 25,000 souls, while the city of Philadelphia boasted of 40,000 souls. But Georgia was […]

Founding Fathers Friday: John Taylor of Caroline

On December 6, 2013, in America, American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, Founding Fathers, Freedom, by Derrick G. Jeter

We tend to think of the Founding Fathers as a homogeneous band of white men wearing powdered wigs and silk stockings. And while it’s true all the men we call Founding Fathers were white and wore powdered wigs and silk stockings, they were hardly indistinguishable when it came to the really important things in life—religion […]

Founding Fathers Friday: Patrick Henry

At the beginning of the American Revolution three Virginians sat at the pinnacle of prominence: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry. Jefferson, the pen of the Revolution, Washington, the sword of the Revolution, and Henry, the voice of the Revolution. Two—Washington and Jefferson—would establish lasting fame as national heroes. And ironically, the man who […]

Founding Fathers Friday: James Monroe

George Washington is the first Founding Father, if not by chronological at least in historical importance. Of this, few would dispute. James Monroe is the last Founding Father—if not in historical importance at least by chronological. Like all of the Virginia Founders, except Patrick Henry, Monroe was born to relative wealth and property. Born on […]

Founding Fathers Friday: James McClurg

Founders like George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin have become almost demigod-like in our history. Maybe not so much today, but at various times in our history we’ve placed certain Founders on unreachable pedestals. In the summer of 1787, these and other notable Founders hadn’t quite reached the demigod status—though Washington and Franklin were […]

Founding Fathers Friday: George Mason

He once said he’d rather cut off his hand than sign the Constitution. The Founder who became the godfather of the Declaration of Independence and the “Father of the Bill of Rights” never came around to support the newly created national government. In the eyes of George Mason, the only sure guard of liberty came […]

Founding Fathers Friday: John Dickinson

John Adams first met John Dickinson in 1774, in Philadelphia, at the First Continental Congress. After taking the measure of the man, Adams wrote in his diary on October 24 that “Mr. Dickinson is very modest, delicate, and timid.” That was a pretty accurate assessment of the man who would become Adams’s chief protagonist in […]