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The Myth of the Founding Fathers

Published:

The Myth of the
"Founding Fathers"
By: Adolf H. Nixon
Some persons, especially the extreme right-wing Republicans preach that we must go back to the ways of the "Founding Fathers." In particular, they want judges to ignore 220 years of progress and history. They desire to turn the calendar back to the politics of 1787.

For conservatives, the myth is that somehow the Founding Fathers were giants, better than we are today, smarter, more able, more clever. Above all, the conservatives argue that the Founding Fathers were more "moral" than you or me. They were like the Olympian heroes of ancient mythology, at least according to our conservative brethren. But conservatives are always looking backwards and not seeing very clearly. They have problems coping with present realities.

The conservatives want us to accede to those mythical heroes. We are expected to abandon our own good sense and trust the Founding Fathers' judgment over our own.

Of course, most rational persons realize that such political mythology is sheer nonsense, but it begs the question, who were the Founding Fathers and what makes them so great that they're wiser than you are?

The term "Founding Fathers" is somewhat vague. My dictionary says that it didn't even come into use until about 1914. It was applied to the members of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Our Constitution or what remains of it after 27 of the most serious blunders have been corrected by amendments, rests on the philosophy, genius, morality and ethics of the rather small committee which concocted it. We must look to those Founding Fathers to see what kinds of guys they were that we should surrender our good sense to theirs.

It's important to differentiate the Constitution that the Founding Fathers cooked up from the Bill of Rights. Today when we think of the protections of the American system, we usually think of the shinning example of ethics and goodness contained in the Bill of Rights. These are the first ten amendments to the Constitution. They are primarily the work of George Mason (1725-1792). He would have been a Founding Father because he was a delegate to the convention from Virginia, but he refused to sign the Constitution. He realized that it failed to protect individual liberties and failed to oppose slavery.

Mr. Mason lobbied against adoption of the Constitution just as many of the Founding Fathers lobbied against the Bill of Rights. Most of the Founding Fathers disapproved of giving ordinary citizens such liberties as freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable search and torture, the right of free speech and so forth. In fact, when John Adams (1735-1826) was president (1797-1801), he took away freedom of speech.

The Bill of Rights is really the people's voice against the Founding Fathers; liberty against conformity.

Present-day conservatives and other right-wing fanatics insist that we (and especially judges) revere the Founding Fathers, sublimating our twenty-first century experience to their own. I have nothing against the Founding Fathers. They weren't so bad, but certainly not so good, either, about like conservative Republicans today. They certainly were NOT representative of the population of the counrty, then or now. If they represented anyone, it was a mere 2% of the population.

  • Number of women: 0
  • Number of Native Americans: 0
  • Number of Hispanics: 0
  • Number of Afro-Americans: 0
  • Number of poor persons: 0
  • Number of indentured servants: 0
  • Number of Jews: 0
  • Number of non-land owners: 0
  • Number of Moslems: 0
  • etc., etc.

None of those kinds of persons were considered important enough (then or now) to have a real say in the Constitution or its protections.

Our rather defective Constitution was patched together by the 1787 Constitutional Convention because the earlier Articles of Confederation had flopped as a frame of government. The Articles of Confederation had been written by the rabble-rouser John Dickenson (1732-1805). Even though they failed as a sane basis for a government, Dickenson was right back at the 1787 Constitutional Convention to try his hand again. At least he was smarter that George W. Bush and realized that one has to admit errors and try again.

In 1786 only 9 years after the Articles of Confederation had been tried, the old and powerful families of Virginia put together a committee to meet with delegates from the other states in order to design a better frame of government.

Rhode Island didn't care enough about it to send anybody, but representatives from the other 12 states answered an invitation issued by Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), a bastard "and illegal alien" living in New York. Ranging in age from the 27 year-old Jonathan Dayton (1760-1824) to the 82 year-old Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) the convention gathered in Philadelphia in May 1787. Altogether, the individual states appointed 65 wealthy men to be Founding Fathers, ten of them didn't bother to show up at the convention. They had important work to do and, maybe a manicure to schedule. So a mere 55 well-to-do gentlemen stopped by for grog and scones in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. Of those 55, only 39 Founding Fathers actually liked the Constitution enough to sign it. The other 16 visited the many Philadelphia whorehouses and ambled back home.

Things might have turned out differently had Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) not been in Europe. He was one of the few voices of real civil liberty in American. Here are the 39 much-revered Founding Fathers who invented the Constitution, the guys we're supposed to look up to, the guys judges are supposed to worship:

 

NAME
Life Span
State
Represented
Personal Qualities
Abraham Baldwin
1754-1807
GeorgiaBorn in Connecticut, religious fanatic, chaplain in Revolutionary army, wealthy, teacher at Yale, lawyer in Georgia, large slave owner, killed several, politician, representative and senator.
Richard Bassett
1745-1815
DelawareBorn in Maryland, revolutionary, captain in Revolution, Christian crazy, Methodist bishop, US judge, politician, senator.
Gunning Bedford (Junor)
1747-1812
DelawareBorn in Philadelphia, unbalanced, manic, wealthy, lawyer, US district judge.
John Blair
1732-1800
VirginaBorn in Virginia of a wealthy, prominent family, one of the older delegates, owned and used many slaves, had black mistress, a drinking buddy of George Washington, he made him one of the first Supreme Court justices, he did nothing.
William Blount
1749-1800
North CarolinaBorn in North Carolina, greedy, crook, one of the founders of Tennessee, owned slaves, expelled from the Senate, involved in real estate swingles.
David Brearl(e)y
1745-1790
New JerseyBorn in New Jersey, well off, judge in New Jersey Supreme Court, bland and inconsequential.
Jacob Broom
1752-1810
DelawareBorn in Delaware, surveyor, industrialist, used indentured servants (slaves) to operate his cotton mill, big banker, quite wealthy.
Pierce Butler
1744-1822
South CarolinaBorn in Ireland, illegal alien, officer in British Army, trader, married rich woman, wealthy planter, owned a great many slaves, instrumental in Constitution's fugitive slave language, senator.
Daniel Carroll
1730-1796
MarylandOne of the oldest and wisest delegates, born in Maryland, Catholic, married money, wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution.
George Clymer
1739-1813
PennsylvaniaBorn in Philadelphia, signer of the Declaration of Independence, rich, prosperous businessman, made money as federal tax collector, treasurer of the Revolution, stole land from Indians and treated with them, involved in fine arts and agriculture.
Jonathan Dayton
1760-1824
New JerseyYoungest delegate, born in New Jersey, captain in Revolution, Dayton, Ohio named for him, politician, crook, representative, senator, accused of treason in Arron Burr's (1756-1836) land swindle, empire plot.
John Dickinson
1732-1805
DelawareBorn in Maryland, Philadelphia lawyer, rabble-rouser (a kind of eighteenth century Abby Hoffman), author of the famous Farmers Letters, wrote the Articles of Confederation, revolutionary, general in Revolution.
William Few
1748-1828
GeorgiaBorn in Maryland, grew up in North Carolina, moved to Georgia and later New York City where he was inspector of prisons and became an important banker, a vagabond, slave owner and breeder, US circuit judge, grafter.
Thomas FitzSimmons
1741-1811
PennsylvaniaBorn in Ireland, Catholic, illegal alien, wealthy, financier, important businessman and merchant, banker with Alexander Hamilton, Founder of Bank of North America and Insurance Company of North America, member of the House.
Benjamin Franklin
1706-1790
PennsylvaniaBorn in Boston, oldest delegate, genius, womanizer, father of several bastards including a governor of New Jersey, rapist, sex with 15 year-old child, wealthy businessman and printer/publisher, inventor, spent 1/3 of his life in Europe.
Nicholas Gilman
1755-1814
New HampshireBorn in New Hampshire, captain in the Revolution, wondered in very late for the convention when all the work was done, mentally questionable, politician, representative and senator.
Nathaniel Gorhman
1758-1796
Mass-
achusetts
Born in Massachusetts, businessman, merchant, wealthy, President of the Continental Congress, land speculator and swindler, with partner bought six million acres in Western New York, over 9300 square miles, 17% of the state.
Alexander Hamilton
1755?-1804
New YorkBastard born to a penniless slut on Nevis, West Indies, illegal alien, criminal, married money, daughter of General Philip Schuyler, captain in the Revolution, profiteer, pompous, involved in finance, killed by Aaron Burr (1757-1836) in an illegal duel.
Jared Ingersoll
1749-1822
PennsylvaniaBorn in Pennsylvania, important lawyer, otherwise not much.
William Jackson The secretary of the convention.
Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer
1723-1790
MarylandBorn in Maryland, an old and wealthy land owner and slave owner.
William Samuel Johnson
1727-1819
ConnecticutBorn in Connecticut, British sympathizer, suspected of treason and complicity, lawyer, member of state supreme court, president of Columbia College, senator, crook.
Rufus King
1755-1827
Mass-
achusetts
Born in what is now Maine, was then Massachusetts, pro British, minister to Britain, lawyer, politician, anti-slavery, preferred indentured servants, leader in forming Constitution, move to New York, senator, upper class snob.
John Langdon
1741-1819
New HampshireBorn in New Hampshire, wealthy businessman and merchant, disinterested in ordinary citizens, general in revolution, governor of New Hampshire.
William Livingston
1723-1790
New JerseyOne of the oldest and least bad of the delegates, liberal pressed for freedom of speech and religion, born in New York, officer in Revolution, prisoner of war, commander of New Jersey militia, lawyer, publisher, editor, heavy drinker, womanizer, first governor of New Jersey.
James Madison, Jr.
1751-1836
VirginiaBorn in Virginia of a wealthy and powerful family, widely believed to be homosexual, "Father of the Constutution," slave breeder, importer and owner of many slaves, scholarly, articulate, wealthy land owner and land speculator in Kentucky, representative, secretary of state, fourth president of the United states.
James McHenry
1753-1816
MarylandIllegal alien, born in Ireland, anti-British, doctor, well educated, Revolutionary surgeon, private secretary to George Washington, prisoner of war.
Thomas Mifflin
1744-1800
PennsylvaniaBorn in Philadelphia, Quaker turned warmonger, wealthy businessman, industrialist, merchant, banker, politician, colonel and general during Revolution, aide-de-camp to George Washington, wisely turned against Washington, Governor of Pennsylvania, refused to send militia to crush the Whiskey Rebellion.
Gouverneur Morris
1752-1816
PennsylvaniaBorn in New York of wealthy, important family, major contributor to Connstitution, lawyer, pro-British turned revolutionary, author of Pennsylvania Packet, etc., raised money for Revolution, minister to France.
Robert Morris
1734-1806
PennsylvaniaBorn in England, businessman, importer, merchant, primary financier of the Revolution, signed Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, financial manipulator, fiddled with government finances to favor the wealthy and land owners, speculator, went bankrupt.
William Paterson
1745-1806
New JerseyBorn in Ireland, lawyer, wealthy, governor of New Jersey, Senator, appointed justice of the Supreme Court as a reward by George Washington, decided that federal law supercedes state law and that courts are final say on constitutionality of laws.
Charles Pinckney
1757-1824
South CarolinaBorn in South Carolina, younger cousin of Charles Colesworth Pinckney, large slave trader, lawyer, lieutenant in Revolution, prisoner of war, important in forming the Constitution, governor of South Carolina, senator, became a liberal.
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
1746-1825
South CarolinaBorn in South Carolina of a prominent family, elder cousin of Charles Pinckney, educated in England, Oxford, lawyer, slave breeder and importer, Revolutionary officer, prisoner of war, prominent in drafting Constitution, strongly advocated separation of church and state, wanted senators to serve without pay.
George Read
1733-1798
DelawareBorn in Maryland, moved to Philadelphia and Delaware, lawyer, wealthy, at first opposed independence, signed Declaration of Independence, founded US Navy, favored land owners, United States judge, Chief Justice of Delaware, senator.
John Rutledge
1739-1800
South CarolinaBorn in South Carolina, large slave owner and importer, disliked common man, opposed democracy and freedoms, governor of South Carolina, made justice of Supreme Court, quit, made Chief Justice.
Rodger Sherman
1721-1793
ConnecticutBorn in Massachusetts, one of oldest and most moderate delegate, farmer, shoemaker, shopkeeper, surveyor, self-schooled, signed Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, wrote almanacs, politician, judge, representative.
Richard Dobbs Spaight
1758-1802
North Carolina Born in North Carolina, sent to Ireland at eight as an orphan, notorious, politician, Governor of North Carolina, representative.
George Washington
1732-1799
VirginiaBorn in Virginia, surveyor, military officer, blundering general, brewer, drunk, married money, suspected of homosexuality, slave owner, pompous, great accomplishment: getting his picture on the $1 bill.
Hugh Williamson
1735-1819
North CarolinaScientist, doctor, educated in Edinburgh and London, taught mathematics at what is now University of Pennsylvania, writer, published essay on comets.
James Wilson
1742-1798
PennsylvaniaBorn in Scotland, illegal alien, lawyer, instrumental in planing the Revolution, strong supporter of democracy and the common man, wanted senators elected by direct vote (as it is now done), land speculator, jailed for debts, justice of the Supreme Court.
You/Me None of the above!

If you wonder why there are so many problems with American politics, look at how many of these guys were lawyers.

How many of these sterling Founding Fathers have you ever heard of before? and you are supposed to follow them blindly? Which ones represent you or the way you live or think? Conservatives who want you to obey these Founding Fathers have very strange morality and don't know what they're talking about.

"I have opinions of my own -
strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them"
George W. Bush, 2004

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Entry #80

Comments

1.
ToddComment by Todd - July 22, 2006, 9:26 am
The wonderful thing about what the great founding fathers did is that they created a country that allows morons to post stupid crap like this. You live in a ignorant, angry little world of your own, and someday, if you're lucky, you will emerge from it and wonder why you wasted your life.
2.
TenajComment by Tenaj - July 22, 2006, 10:36 am
In 1784, five years before he became president of the United States, George Washington, 52, was nearly toothless. So he hired a dentist to transplant nine teeth into his jaw--having extracted them from the mouths of his slaves.

That's a far different image from the cherry-tree-chopping George most people remember from their history books.

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