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Fun Facts About the Founding Fathers

Who or what is a 'founding father'? It's a term that refers to the signers of the Declaration of Independence. So one fun fact about the founding fathers is while many are known by name such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, there were 56 signatures total.

Fun Facts About the Founding Fathers

More Founding Father Fun Facts

  • John Hancock is a founding father.
  • John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence was so distinctive that 'adding your John Hancock' to a document literally means to sign it.
  • George Washington attended the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, led the Continental Army and was elected the first President of the United States.
  • Washington had false teeth made from African ivory.
  • Four founding fathers eventually became presidents: Washington, Adams, Madison and Jefferson.
  • George Washington never attended college.
  • Washington was the only president elected by unanimous vote of the electoral college.
  • Washington was to be buried in the Rotunda beneath the Capitol dome. He died before the building was complete and was later interred at Mt. Vernon.
  • Adams was the first President to live in the White House.

Diverse History

  • John Adams was a grammar school teacher.
  • Jefferson was a renaissance man amongst the founding fathers having the most diverse interests ranging from agriculture to music to geography to food preparation, animal husbandry and philosophy.
  • Jefferson was fluent in seven languages including Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian and German.
  • Jefferson died financially destitute, but paid off many of his debts by selling his book collection to Congress for $25,000 (about half million dollars in 2010).
  • Jefferson's books were used to begin the Library of Congress.
  • Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition in 1804.
  • John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence signing.
  • Alexander Hamilton died from a wound in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804.
  • Alexander Hamilton is one of two non-Presidents to be placed on U.S. currency, Benjamin Franklin is the second.

Ideas Ahead of Their Time

  • Benjamin Franklin was a inventive man, he created the odometer, a long arm, a urinary catheter, a lighting rod and bifocals to name a few.
  • Franklin organized the first volunteer fire department.
  • James Madison proposed the first twelve amendments to the Constitution, ten of which became the Bill of Rights.
  • Benjamin Franklin encouraged Thomas Paine's emigration to the Americas where his political views would be more widely accepted.
  • Paine published Common Sense, printing more than 120,000 copies and it influence the founding fathers in their debates and discussions.
  • Washington read from Paine's works to his men while encamped during the war.
  • Washington and Paine differed on only one major issue: slavery.

Fiery Radicals

  • While all the founding fathers were the radicals of their time, none wore the title more than Patrick Henry.
  • Henry was a fiery orator known for his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.
  • Henry's Stamp Act resolution galvanized the War for Independence.
  • Paine proposed many radical ideas in his time, ideas that would see fruition including: universal education, minimum income, social security and more.
  • Samuel Adams was a brewer by occupation and the first to organize a protest of British taxes and propose the first Continental Congress.

Fathering a Nation

The founding fathers overcame an arduous task in not only rebelling against the crown, but creating the foundation for a government that would put a premium on freedom of the people. These men came together from all over the colonies, from all walks of life, to debate and vote upon the guiding principles of a new nation. Their legacy can be found in all aspects of American government.