The reverence with which most Americans hold the Founding Fathers —that collective sobriquet given to the leaders of our fledgling Republic — is remarkable in its almost total lack of objectivity.
Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton and the rest are viewed these days as demigods when compared to the mere mortals who currently run the country. The nation often shakes its collective head at the peccadilloes of Bill Clinton, Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Anthony Weiner, the “Johns” (Edwards, Ensign and Kennedy) and all the rest.
“Where are the great leaders of yesteryear?” we plaintively cry. “Why can’t today’s politicians be more like our beloved Founding Fathers?”
Good news, America! Turns out they are! Let’s take a quick look at some Founding Father Facts (FFF™):
Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, fathered several children by the teenage daughter of one of them, and though he believed in God and called himself a Christian, he did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. He died in debt equal to $1-2 million in today’s dollars.
Alexander Hamilton admitted to an affair with a married woman, after paying blackmail money to her husband. When questioned about the omission of God in the Constitution, Hamilton responded that the new nation was not in need of “foreign aid.”
Benjamin Franklin authored an article entitled “Fart Proudly”, chronicled 228 slang terms and phrases to describe drunkenness and managed to keep two “wives”—one in London, one in Philadelphia.
George Washington, generally considered a great general, fought 9 battles in the American Revolution. His record? 3-6. By the way, he wasn’t our first President. John Hanson of Maryland served as the President of the Continental Congress from 1781, when the Articles of Confederation were ratified, until 1789, when Washington was elected.
Aaron Burr was a philanderer, charged with the murder of a former Treasury Secretary, and was indicted for treason against the country…4 times.
John Adams married his third cousin, Abigail Adams.
None of this in any way diminishes the accomplishments of the men who fought, argued and eventually compromised to create the new nation. Yet, as Adams himself put it, “Facts are stubborn things.”
Even when they are ignored.
Ben Franklin invented the urinary catheter and the odometer.