Os fundadores se unem

Os fundadores se unem


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Crenças dos Pais Fundadores

Algumas crenças dos pais fundadores da América & # 8217 são frequentemente mal interpretadas e merecem esclarecimento, particularmente no que diz respeito à criação da Constituição dos EUA.

No turbulento clima político de hoje, os ideólogos reivindicam a Constituição e as intenções dos pais fundadores de apoiar suas próprias agendas. Freqüentemente, porém, as idéias e perspectivas atuais comprometem a exatidão histórica. As crenças, intenções e motivações dos pais fundadores não são exceção. Reduzir a diversidade dos fundadores em um sistema de crenças coletivo cria ilusões históricas. Essas ilusões, por sua vez, distorcem a realidade. Eles também levam a identidades concorrentes que minam a unidade nacional.

Religião e os fundadores

Os pais fundadores foram uma mistura de deístas, cristãos e possivelmente um ateu. Atribuir crenças aos pais fundadores coletivamente, no entanto, é uma tarefa difícil. Como um grupo, os fundadores pararam perto do estabelecimento religioso por causa de sua própria diversidade e experiência com a religião patrocinada pelo Estado na Europa. No entanto, eles reconheceram amplamente um "Criador" ou "Deus da Natureza", sem atribuir a uma religião em particular. Seus sistemas de crenças eram produtos da filosofia antiga, do Iluminismo e da Reforma. Suas diversas crenças, no entanto, refutam qualquer reivindicação exclusiva a uma religião ou sistema de crenças.

Moralidade e os pais fundadores

Embora as crenças religiosas dos fundadores sejam diferentes, eles formaram um consenso geral sobre moralidade. Esse consenso, no entanto, estava entre as autoridades concorrentes. A maioria dos fundadores acreditava que a moralidade estava ligada à religião, mas alguns também consideravam a possibilidade de uma estrutura moral secular. Em uma carta a Thomas Law, 13 de junho de 1814, Thomas Jefferson perguntou, “de onde surge a moralidade do ateu? É inútil dizer, como alguns fazem, que tal ser não existe ”. Por outro lado, John Adams acreditava que a moralidade não poderia existir sem religião. Em um discurso aos militares em 1798, ele afirmou: “nossa Constituição é feita apenas para um povo moral e religioso”. Suas opiniões, portanto, revelam quão complexas as posições dos fundadores eram sobre a questão da moralidade. Eles não concordaram coletivamente sobre os fundamentos da moralidade e a definiram em termos religiosos e seculares.

Criação da Constituição dos EUA

A Constituição reflete essas diversas crenças. Os fundadores não protegeram especificamente a liberdade religiosa na Constituição. Alguns argumentam que estava implícito no Artigo 6 com a declaração: "nenhum teste religioso será exigido como uma qualificação para qualquer cargo ou confiança pública nos Estados Unidos." Essa cláusula, no entanto, apenas restringia a intolerância religiosa e não fornecia liberdade religiosa. Foi necessária a Declaração de Direitos para tratar da liberdade de religião. Outra menção à religião inclui o juramento presidencial, que sugere vagamente que alguns podem se opor ao “juramento” por motivos religiosos. A Constituição também se refere ao ano de sua criação como “o Ano de nosso Senhor”, que era simplesmente a forma padrão de se referir ao tempo. Na verdade, os fundadores omitiram propositalmente referências a religiões ou crenças específicas. Em 1815, Thomas Jefferson escreveu a P.H. Wendover, & # 8220 religião, bem como a razão, confirma a solidez dos princípios sobre os quais nosso governo foi fundado e seus direitos afirmados. & # 8221 A Constituição, portanto, reflete um equilíbrio entre os princípios de Deus e do Iluminismo de uma natureza universal.

Implicações

Vários grupos interpretam as crenças dos fundadores de maneira diferente. Eles freqüentemente permitem que suas próprias crenças distorçam o passado. Portanto, as visões de mundo dominantes nos Estados Unidos são freqüentemente baseadas em ilusões históricas. Quando os grupos baseiam suas identidades em ilusões, eles comprometem a unidade nacional. A história da América não está ligada apenas à religião ou ao secularismo. Os pais fundadores, no entanto, previram que a maioria dos americanos seria religiosa. Portanto, eles excluíram a religião da Constituição para proteger contra a tirania religiosa. Depois de muito debate, eles mais tarde incluíram uma declaração de direitos para proteger a liberdade religiosa.


George Washington fumou maconha

Não há absolutamente nenhuma evidência de que George Washington fumou maconha ou maconha. No entanto, não há evidências de que ele também não fumou.

Washington sabia a diferença entre as plantas masculinas e femininas, mas isso certamente não significa que ele estava cultivando o cânhamo para ficar alto. Quando as plantas masculinas crescem ao lado das fêmeas, isso as poliniza e elas produzem sementes em vez de flores. A outra diferença fundamental aqui é que a fibra em uma planta polinizada não é tão forte quanto uma planta com flores e esse era o objetivo principal de Washington.

Em 1785, a diferença entre o cânhamo e a maconha era conhecida. Cânhamo industrial ou Cannabis Sativa contém menos de 0,3% de THC e maconha ou Cannabis Indica contém mais de 0,3%. O cânhamo industrial que George Washington cultivou foi feito para fibras, tecidos, sacos, panos de vela, forros e para consertar suas redes de pesca.


Um coletivo diverso

Até agora, a identidade, as realizações e os fracassos dos Pais Fundadores foram considerados como se fossem a expressão de uma personalidade composta com uma orientação singular. Mas isso é extremamente enganoso. O termo Founding Fathers é um substantivo plural, o que por sua vez significa que a face da Revolução Americana é um retrato de grupo. Para ter certeza, Washington foi primus inter pares dentro da geração fundadora, geralmente considerada, então e depois, como "a figura indispensável". Mas, ao contrário das revoluções subsequentes na França, Rússia e China, onde uma única pessoa passou a incorporar o significado do movimento revolucionário - Napoleão I, Vladimir Ilich Lenin / Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong - a experiência revolucionária nos Estados Unidos teve várias faces e significados múltiplos que conseguiram coexistir sem nunca se transformar em uma personificação unitária de autoridade. Se uma das contribuições distintas da tradição política americana foi uma concepção pluralista de governança, sua fonte primordial foi o caráter pluralista da própria geração fundadora.

Todos os fundadores concordaram que a independência americana da Grã-Bretanha era inegociável e que qualquer governo estabelecido em lugar do domínio britânico deveria ter caráter republicano. Além desse consenso elementar, entretanto, havia desacordo generalizado, que veio à tona de forma mais dramática no debate sobre a ratificação da Constituição (1787-88). Dois fundadores proeminentes, Patrick Henry e George Mason, se opuseram à ratificação, alegando que a Constituição criava um governo central que apenas reproduzia o poder arbitrário da monarquia e do Parlamento britânicos. A política altamente partidária da década de 1790 expôs ainda mais as várias linhas de falha dentro da elite fundadora. Os federalistas, liderados por Washington, John Adams e Hamilton, tiveram oposição dos republicanos, liderados por Jefferson e James Madison. Eles discordaram sobre a alocação adequada do poder federal e estadual sobre a política interna, a resposta à Revolução Francesa, a constitucionalidade do Banco dos Estados Unidos e os valores fundamentais da política externa americana. Essas divergências freqüentemente assumiam um tom hiperbólico porque nada menos do que o “verdadeiro significado” da Revolução Americana parecia em jogo. No que se tornou a correspondência fundamental da geração revolucionária, Adams e Jefferson foram até seu Criador em 4 de julho de 1826, argumentando de maneira bastante pungente sobre suas versões incompatíveis do legado revolucionário.

A diversidade ideológica e até temperamental dentro do grupo de liderança de elite deu à fundação americana um sabor distintamente argumentativo que tornou todas as convicções, não importa o quão acalentadas, sujeitas a um escrutínio permanente que, como a própria história, se tornou uma discussão sem fim. E assim como a doutrina de freios e contrapesos na Constituição, a consagração do argumento criou uma colisão permanente de ideias e interesses justapostos que gerou uma versão dinâmica e totalmente moderna de estabilidade política.


Os Pais Fundadores, Deísmo e Cristianismo

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Há algum tempo, a questão da fé religiosa dos Pais Fundadores gerou uma guerra cultural nos Estados Unidos. Estudiosos treinados em universidades de pesquisa geralmente argumentam que a maioria dos Fundadores eram racionalistas religiosos ou unitaristas. Pastores e outros escritores que se identificam como evangélicos afirmam não apenas que a maioria dos Fundadores tinha crenças ortodoxas, mas também que alguns eram cristãos nascidos de novo.

Quaisquer que sejam suas crenças, os Fundadores vieram de origens religiosas semelhantes. A maioria eram protestantes. O maior número foi criado nas três maiores tradições cristãs da América colonial - anglicanismo (como nos casos de John Jay, George Washington e Edward Rutledge), presbiterianismo (como nos casos de Richard Stockton e do reverendo John Witherspoon), e Congregacionalismo (como nos casos de John Adams e Samuel Adams). Outros grupos protestantes incluíam a Sociedade de Amigos (Quakers), os Luteranos e os Reformados Holandeses. Três fundadores - Charles Carroll e Daniel Carroll de Maryland e Thomas Fitzsimmons da Pensilvânia - eram de herança católica romana.

O amplo desacordo sobre as crenças religiosas dos Fundadores surge de uma questão de discrepância. Suas crenças particulares diferiam dos ensinamentos ortodoxos de suas igrejas? Superficialmente, a maioria dos Fundadores parecem ter sido cristãos ortodoxos (ou “de fé correta”). A maioria foi batizada, listada nas listas da igreja, casada com cristãos praticantes e freqüentadores frequentes ou pelo menos esporádicos de cultos cristãos. Em declarações públicas, a maioria invocou a ajuda divina.

Mas a existência generalizada na América do século 18 de uma escola de pensamento religioso chamada Deísmo complica as crenças reais dos Fundadores. Com base no trabalho científico e filosófico de figuras como Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Isaac Newton e John Locke, os deístas argumentaram que a experiência humana e a racionalidade - ao invés do dogma religioso e do mistério - determinam a validade das crenças humanas. Em seu amplamente lido A idade da razão, Thomas Paine, o principal expoente americano do deísmo, chamou o cristianismo de "uma fábula". Paine, o protegido de Benjamin Franklin, negou "que o Todo-Poderoso jamais comunicou qualquer coisa ao homem, por ... fala, ... linguagem ou ... visão". Postulando uma divindade distante a quem chamou de "Deus da Natureza" (termo também usado na Declaração de Independência), Paine declarou em uma "profissão de fé":

Eu acredito em um Deus, e nada mais e espero felicidade além desta vida. Acredito na igualdade do homem e acredito que os deveres religiosos consistem em fazer justiça, amar a misericórdia e empenhar-se em fazer felizes os nossos semelhantes.

Assim, o deísmo inevitavelmente subverte o cristianismo ortodoxo. Pessoas influenciadas pelo movimento tinham poucos motivos para ler a Bíblia, orar, ir à igreja ou participar de ritos como o batismo, a Santa Comunhão e a imposição de mãos (confirmação) pelos bispos. Com as notáveis ​​exceções de Abigail Adams e Dolley Madison, o deísmo parece ter tido pouco efeito nas mulheres. Por exemplo, Martha Washington, as filhas de Thomas Jefferson e Elizabeth Kortright Monroe e suas filhas parecem ter crenças cristãs ortodoxas.

Mas o pensamento deísta foi imensamente popular nas faculdades de meados do século 18 até o século 19. Assim, influenciou muitos homens instruídos (bem como não instruídos) da geração revolucionária. Embora esses homens geralmente continuem sua afiliação pública com o Cristianismo depois da faculdade, eles podem ter visões religiosas não ortodoxas interiormente. Dependendo de até que ponto os americanos de origem cristã foram influenciados pelo deísmo, suas crenças religiosas cairiam em três categorias: deísmo não cristão, deísmo cristão e cristianismo ortodoxo.

Pode-se diferenciar um Pai Fundador influenciado pelo deísmo de um crente cristão ortodoxo seguindo certos critérios. Quem estiver procurando a resposta deve considerar pelo menos os quatro pontos a seguir. Primeiro, um inquiridor deve examinar o envolvimento do Fundador na igreja. No entanto, como uma igreja colonial servia não apenas a funções religiosas, mas também sociais e políticas, a frequência à igreja ou serviço em um corpo governante (como uma sacristia anglicana, que era um escritório estadual em colônias como Maryland, Virgínia e Carolina do Sul) falha para garantir a ortodoxia de um Fundador. No entanto, os fundadores que eram cristãos crentes teriam mais probabilidade de ir à igreja do que aqueles influenciados pelo deísmo.

A segunda consideração é uma avaliação da participação de um Fundador nas ordenanças ou sacramentos de sua igreja. A maioria não tinha escolha sobre ser batizada quando criança, mas como adultos, eles tinham a escolha de participar da comunhão ou (se episcopal ou católica romana) na confirmação. E poucos fundadores que eram deístas teriam participado de qualquer um dos ritos. A recusa de George Washington em receber a comunhão em sua vida adulta indicou a crença deísta para muitos de seus pastores e colegas.

Terceiro, deve-se notar a linguagem religiosa que um Fundador usou. Deístas não-cristãos, como Paine, recusaram-se a usar a terminologia judaico-cristã e descreveram Deus com expressões como "Providência", "o Criador", "o Governante dos Grandes Eventos" e "Deus da Natureza". Os fundadores que se enquadram na categoria de Cristãos Deístas usaram termos Deístas para Deus, mas às vezes adicionaram uma dimensão Cristã, como "Providência Misericordiosa" ou "Bondade Divina". No entanto, esses fundadores não avançaram mais na ortodoxia e empregaram a linguagem tradicional da piedade cristã. Os fundadores que não foram afetados pelo deísmo ou que (como John Adams) se tornaram unitaristas conservadores usaram termos que transmitiam claramente sua ortodoxia (“Salvador”, “Redentor”, “Cristo ressuscitado”).

Finalmente, deve-se considerar o que amigos, familiares e, acima de tudo, clérigos disseram sobre a fé religiosa de um Fundador. O fato de os pastores de Washington na Filadélfia claramente o terem visto como significativamente influenciado pelo deísmo diz mais sobre a fé de Washington do que as visões opostas de escritores posteriores ou as memórias nebulosas de alguns veteranos revolucionários que confessaram a ortodoxia de Washington décadas após sua morte.

Embora nenhum exame da história possa capturar a fé interior de qualquer pessoa, esses quatro indicadores podem ajudar a localizar os Fundadores no espectro religioso. Ethan Allen, por exemplo, parece claramente ter sido um deísta não cristão. James Monroe, um amigo próximo de Paine, permaneceu oficialmente um episcopal, mas pode ter se aproximado mais do deísmo não-cristão do que do deísmo cristão. Os fundadores que se enquadram na categoria de Cristãos Deístas incluem Washington (cuja dedicação ao Cristianismo estava clara em sua mente), John Adams e, com algumas qualificações, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson foi mais influenciado pelo Iluminismo centrado na razão do que Adams ou Washington. Os cristãos ortodoxos entre os fundadores incluem o convicto calvinista Samuel Adams. John Jay (que serviu como presidente da American Bible Society), Elias Boudinot (que escreveu um livro sobre a iminente Segunda Vinda de Jesus) e Patrick Henry (que distribuiu folhetos religiosos enquanto viajava como advogado) acreditavam claramente no cristianismo evangélico .

Embora os cristãos ortodoxos participassem de todas as fases da nova república, o deísmo influenciou a maioria dos fundadores. O movimento se opôs às barreiras ao aperfeiçoamento moral e à justiça social. Representava investigação racional, ceticismo sobre dogmas e mistérios e tolerância religiosa. Muitos de seus adeptos defenderam a educação universal, a liberdade de imprensa e a separação entre Igreja e Estado. Se a nação deve muito à tradição judaico-cristã, também deve ao deísmo, um movimento de razão e igualdade que influenciou os fundadores a abraçarem ideais políticos liberais notáveis ​​para sua época.


César Rodney

César Rodney serviu como soldado, político e estadista nos anos que antecederam a Guerra Revolucionária, tornando-se um importante cidadão da pequena colônia de Delaware. Rodney descendia de uma família próspera, grandes proprietários de terras na colônia, cuja fazenda de 1.000 acres produzia trigo e outros grãos, trabalhados por mais de 200 escravos. Rodney tinha 27 anos quando entrou na arena política como xerife de Delaware & rsquos Kent County, uma posição poderosa e lucrativa que serviu de trampolim para outras, e ele se aliou a um partido político que se posicionou contra o Parlamento britânico e sua abordagem tributária.

Rodney serviu no Congresso convocado para se opor à Lei do Selo e, no final da década de 1760, representou o Condado de Kent na Assembleia de Delaware. Em meados da década de 1770, enquanto ainda servia na Assembleia de Delaware, ele também serviu no Congresso Continental, onde Delaware foi representado por três homens, Rodney, Thomas McKean e George Read. Rodney e McKean apoiaram o movimento em direção à independência. Read não o fez, argumentando pela reconciliação com a Inglaterra. Rodney também serviu na milícia de Delaware suprimindo movimentos legalistas em Delaware, e estava envolvido nessa tarefa no final de junho de 1776.

Rodney estava em Dover quando recebeu uma mensagem de McKean de que as colônias deveriam votar pela independência, com cada colônia recebendo um voto. Com McKean votando a favor e Read contra, a delegação de Delaware & rsquos seria forçada a se abster, por não ter maioria. Rodney viajou a cavalo os setenta milhas entre Dover e Filadélfia em uma cavalgada ininterrupta (embora ele tenha trocado de cavalo), por meio de fortes tempestades, para chegar ao Congresso ainda usando esporas e deu o voto decisivo, permitindo que Delaware votasse pela independência em 2 de julho, 1776. Posteriormente, ele assinou o documento em 2 de agosto, quando a maioria dos delegados apôs seus nomes.

O Regimento de Delaware do Exército Continental foi um dos melhores para servir sob Washington, e quando seu comandante foi morto na Batalha de Princeton, Rodney ofereceu seus serviços para suceder ao comando, mas Washington preferiu que ele permanecesse no controle da milícia de Delaware . Nessa posição, ele suprimiu ou dispersou vários grupos legalistas e, como governador do estado, se exauriu lutando para encontrar apoio financeiro para o exército de Washington. O cargo do governador era essencialmente um título honorífico, com pouca autoridade, e foi somente por meio da influência de Rodney na assembléia que seus esforços foram recompensados.

De acordo com os Artigos da Confederação, Rodney foi eleito para o Congresso, mas seu declínio de saúde o impediu de participar depois de 1777. Rodney sofria de um câncer facial debilitante, que os tratamentos da época pouco podiam fazer para aliviar, e durante os anos finais de sua vida ele escondeu o rosto em um lenço. Ele morreu em 1784 com a idade de 55 anos e foi enterrado em uma sepultura não identificada em sua fazenda em Delaware. Hoje a fazenda é chamada de Byfield, em Rodney & rsquos dias ele se referia a ela como Poplar Grove. Vários ancestrais de Rodney e rsquos, incluindo seu pai, foram enterrados da mesma forma em túmulos não identificados na propriedade da família.


Fundadores

Os fundadores da América - incluindo George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe e Benjamin Franklin - juntamente com vários outros atores importantes de seu tempo, estruturaram o governo democrático dos Estados Unidos e deixaram um legado que moldou o mundo.


Os fundadores: mitos e realidade

Assim como Parson Weems escreveu sobre Washington derrubando a cerejeira, os historiadores liberais de hoje levaram seus machados aos próprios Pais Fundadores, destacando o que eles pensam que os desacreditará aos olhos modernos, expondo alguns deles como proprietários de escravos ou como galanteadores ou como filhos ilegítimos crianças. Parte do que esses historiadores escrevem é verdade, mas grande parte não é - é fofoca, muitas vezes fofoca infundada nisso, em vez de história. Se a famosa história de Parson Weems era um mito, os historiadores liberais têm propagado muitos mais mitos próprios - e eles são muito mais prejudiciais do que o conto ilustrativo de Parson Weems sobre a probidade moral de Washington. Aqui estão alguns dos mitos mais comuns que os historiadores liberais propõem sobre a era da Fundação.

Mito: A geração fundadora criou uma democracia

Repita: os Estados Unidos não são uma democracia e nunca pretendeu ser uma democracia. Os Estados Unidos são uma república, e um grande número na geração fundadora, senão a maioria, classificou-se como republicano (não deve ser confundido com o moderno Partido Republicano). A maioria dos Pais Fundadores considerava a democracia um extremo perigoso a ser evitado.

Elbridge Gerry, de Massachusetts, disse na Convenção Constitucional que “os males que vivenciamos decorrem do excesso de democracia. O povo não quer a virtude, mas é o tolo dos pretensos patriotas. ” George Mason evitou ser “democrático demais” e correr “incautamente” para o “outro extremo” (monarquia). Mason equiparou a Câmara dos Representantes dos Estados Unidos à Câmara dos Comuns britânica e sugeriu, como fez James Madison, que os outros ramos do governo deveriam ter algum controle sobre a democracia desenfreada. Nas palavras de Madison, “Onde a maioria está unida por um sentimento comum e tem uma oportunidade, os direitos do partido menor tornam-se inseguros” - em outras palavras, os Fundadores queriam verificações contra a tirania da maioria. É por isso que os Fundadores queriam uma república de poderes separados. Embora o governo devesse "ser derivado do grande corpo da sociedade, não de uma parte insignificante ou de uma classe favorecida", a Constituição incluiu um sistema de nomeações indiretas, incluindo o Supremo Tribunal Federal, o Sistema de Colégio Eleitoral e, originalmente , o Senado dos Estados Unidos, cujos membros foram nomeados por suas respectivas legislaturas estaduais.

O único nível de governo que deveria responder diretamente ao povo era a Câmara dos Representantes. Foi concedido o máximo de poder constitucional, mas deveria ser verificado pelo Poder Executivo, a Câmara Alta do Senado e o Poder Judiciário. Madison advertiu contra uma “democracia pura” no Ensaio Federalista nº 10. As democracias puras, ele supôs, não poderiam proteger o povo dos males das facções, que ele definiu como um grupo cujos interesses eram estranhos e contrários ao bem da sociedade. Madison acreditava que em uma democracia pura, as facções poderiam facilmente assumir o controle do governo por meio de alianças (ou desonestidade) e sujeitar a minoria a abusos legislativos perpétuos. Uma república representativa ou federal, como os Estados Unidos, ofereceu um cheque contra o partidarismo destrutivo. Madison achava que os estados ajudariam a controlar o faccionalismo, tornando um pequeno grupo de uma região geográfica ou política ineficaz contra os estados restantes agregados.

Durante os debates de ratificação de Nova York, Alexander Hamilton também contestou a observação de que "a democracia pura seria o governo mais perfeito". Ele disse: “A experiência provou que nenhuma posição na política é mais falsa do que essa. As antigas democracias. . . nunca possuiu uma característica de bom governo. Seu próprio caráter era tirania, sua figura, deformidade ”. A Constituição criou um sistema muito superior, em sua opinião, a uma democracia pura. John Adams ecoou esse sentimento e escreveu uma vez que "nunca houve uma democracia que não cometesse suicídio". Edmund Randolph, da Virgínia, viu o Senado, com seus membros eleitos pelas respectivas legislaturas estaduais, como uma “cura para os males sob os quais os Estados Unidos trabalharam. . . a turbulência e as loucuras da democracia. ” Os senadores dos Estados Unidos não foram eleitos diretamente até a Décima Sétima Emenda da Constituição (1913) - uma mudança que destruiu as intenções originais dos autores para a câmara alta. Não seria mais o bastião dos direitos do estado e um controle aristocrático tanto da Câmara dos Representantes quanto do Poder Executivo, não seria mais o que deveria ser: um guardião contra a demagogia, um mal que os Criadores associavam à democracia desenfreada. Como Samuel Huntingdon, que não foi apenas um signatário da Declaração da Independência, mas também presidente do Congresso Continental (e governador de Connecticut), disse em 1788: “É difícil para o povo em geral saber quando o poder supremo está se aproximando abuso e aplicar o remédio adequado. Mas se o governo for devidamente equilibrado, terá um princípio renovador, pelo qual será capaz de se endireitar ”. Esse equilíbrio seria fornecido pelo Senado indiretamente eleito. Se o governo federal se tornou mais demagógico desde a Primeira Guerra Mundial, a Décima Sétima Emenda pode ser a culpada.

Mito: os fundadores realmente acreditavam que todos eram iguais

A frase mais famosa da Declaração de Independência é “Consideramos essas verdades evidentes por si mesmas, que todos os homens são criados iguais. . . . ”Mas os Fundadores quiseram dizer algo muito diferente com essa frase do que muitos de nós fomos ensinados a acreditar. Foi escrito, é claro, por um proprietário de escravos - por Thomas Jefferson - e historiadores politicamente corretos zombam dele, por isso mesmo, como um hipócrita. Mas eles fazem isso ignorando o que ele quis dizer.

Quando os fundadores falaram sobre liberdade e igualdade, eles usaram definições que vieram de sua herança dentro da cultura inglesa. Liberdade foi um dos termos mais comumente usados ​​na geração da Fundação. Quando Patrick Henry trovejou: "Dê-me liberdade ou dê-me a morte!" em 1775, ninguém pediu a Henry para definir liberdade após seu discurso. Da mesma forma, quando os Fundadores falaram sobre igualdade, eles pensaram em termos de todos os homens sendo iguais perante Deus e os homens livres sendo iguais perante a lei. Mas a distinção de homens livres era importante. Os fundadores acreditavam em uma hierarquia natural de talentos e acreditavam que a cidadania e o sufrágio exigiam virtude cívica e moral. Jefferson escreveu: “Se uma nação espera ser ignorante e livre em um estado de civilização, ela espera o que nunca foi e o que nunca será.” Para tanto, restringir o status de homens livres era essencial, na visão dos Fundadores, para a liberdade da república, razão pela qual alguns estados inicialmente tinham qualificações de propriedade para votar, e porque a igualdade não se estendia aos escravos (ou nesse sentido para mulheres ou crianças). A maior parte da geração da Fundação favoreceu uma “aristocracia natural” composta por homens de talento e virtude. Eles acreditavam que esses homens seriam, e deveriam ser, os líderes de uma sociedade livre.

Os fundadores não eram de forma alguma igualitários em seus sentimentos, como ficaria mais claro se citarmos Jefferson mais extensamente: "Consideramos essas verdades como evidentes por si mesmas, que todos os homens são criados iguais, que são dotados de certo por seu Criador direitos inalienáveis, entre eles a vida, a liberdade e a busca da felicidade - que, para garantir esses direitos, os governos são instituídos entre os homens, derivando seus justos poderes do consentimento dos governados. . . . ”

Jefferson declara a igualdade dos homens sob Deus, mas então está claramente se referindo aos homens livres - eles são os homens que consentem em conceder poder ao governo, porque são os homens que elegem os representantes. Jefferson não estava, pelo menos neste caso, sendo hipócrita, ele estava pensando em termos que seus companheiros fundadores, criados na mesma tradição inglesa, entendiam completamente. Ele começa com todo homem sendo igual sob Deus, mas não termina na ideia de que todos os homens são iguais em seus talentos, direitos e deveres.

Mito: a escravidão foi um pecado dos fundadores do sul

A importância desse mito é que ele é usado para dividir o país em progressista e esclarecido (o Norte) e reacionário e racista (o Sul), e permite aos historiadores retratar toda a história americana através dessa divisão, dispensando os fundadores do Sul e do Sul argumentos sobre os direitos limitados do governo e dos estados enquanto elogia os poderes cada vez maiores do governo federal em sua longa guerra para garantir a igualdade racial e social.

Mas a escravidão não era um pecado puramente regional, principalmente porque eram os navios do norte que conduziam o comércio de escravos. É verdade que a maioria dos estados da Nova Inglaterra aboliu a escravidão em 1789 e a importação de escravos foi abolida em 1808 por um ato do Congresso, mas a maioria dos estados do norte manteve as leis anti-negros, os interesses marítimos do norte continuaram a participar do comércio de escravos, e um pequeno número de escravos permaneceu no Norte. Por exemplo, escravos ainda eram encontrados em Connecticut até 1848 e em Nova Jersey até 1865. Em 1790, havia mais de 21.000 escravos em Nova York, mais de 11.000 em Nova Jersey, mais de 3.700 na Pensilvânia, mais de 2.700 em Connecticut, quase 1.000 em Rhode Island e um punhado em New Hampshire (158) e Vermont (17). (Claro, esses números eram minúsculos em comparação com mais de 293.000 na Virgínia, mais de 107.000 na Carolina do Sul, mais de 103.000 em Maryland e mais de 100.000 na Carolina do Norte. Além disso, a Geórgia tinha mais de 29.000 escravos, Delaware tinha quase 9.000, e nos territórios, havia também quase 12.000 escravos no que se tornaria o estado de Kentucky e mais de 3.400 no que se tornaria o estado de Tennessee.) Incluídos no grupo de proprietários de escravos do norte estavam nomes proeminentes na história americana. William Penn e John Winthrop, os indivíduos mais importantes no início da história da Pensilvânia e de Massachusetts, respectivamente, eram proprietários de escravos. John Hancock (de Massachusetts) e Benjamin Franklin (da Pensilvânia) possuíam escravos durante o curso de suas vidas, e muitos dos signatários do Norte da Declaração de Independência e delegados da Convenção Constitucional eram proprietários de escravos.

Todos os estados da Nova Inglaterra tinham uma conexão com o comércio internacional de escravos. As pequenas cidades da Nova Inglaterra de Newport e Bristol, Rhode Island, eram os centros de comércio de escravos das colônias norte-americanas. Rhode Island tinha um monopólio virtual sobre o comércio de escravos na América do Norte no século XVIII e cerca de 100.000 escravos passavam por seus mercados de escravos. O Faneuil Hall em Boston, Massachusetts, comumente conhecido como o “Berço da Liberdade”, foi financiado pelo comerciante de escravos Peter Faneuil. A família Easton de Connecticut e a família Whipple de New Hampshire acumularam fortunas consideráveis ​​na importação de escravos. O mercador de escravos James De Wolf, de Bristol, era um dos homens mais ricos da América, uma fortuna obtida quase inteiramente com o comércio de escravos. Brown University derived its name in part from John Brown, a prosperous slave trader who once wrote that “there was not more crime in bringing in a cargo of slaves than in bringing off a cargo of jackasses.”

Once the international trade was closed in 1808, many of the slave traders simply transitioned to the interstate slave trade or illegally continued the practice. Interestingly, John Adams, who was himself something of an abolitionist, professed to see no great difference in condition between laborers in the North and slaves in the South: “In some countries the labouring poor were called freemen, in others they were called slaves but that the difference as to the state was imaginary only. . . . That the condition of the labouring poor in most countries, that of the fishermen particularly in the Northern States, is as abject as that of slaves.”

In the South, of course, slavery was a fact of life. The overwhelming majority of black people (about 95 percent) lived in the South. But Southerners, particularly Virginians, were vexed by the institution. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison cursed slavery, and George Mason called the slave trade the “nefarious traffic” and thought that “every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant.” Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Mason (among others) are deemed hypocritical, because they denounced slavery but did not free their own slaves. But they were no more hypocritical than Benjamin Franklin, who at one time owned slaves and then argued for abolition.

The real dividing line is that the South had to wrestle with the reality that slaves were not only central to the Southern agricultural economy, but were an actual numerical majority in some states (at least in some periods), and certainly a large minority in others. In 1790, for instance, slaves made up at least 40 percent of the population of both Virginia and South Carolina. To leaders in the South, the granting of freeman status to hundreds of thousands of slaves who were by no means grounded in the English tradition of inherited rights and moral duties would have imperiled the very liberty they were trying to guarantee it would have, in their view, overturned the Republic into a mobocracy. For Southerners, it was, as Jefferson would later say, a case of justice being on the one side and self-preservation on the other.

The North and South had a shared responsibility in the institution of slavery. But a better way to think of slavery is not as a uniquely American sin—because it wasn’t—but to put it in the context of what the Founders North and South, regardless of their views on race and slavery, had in common, which was the vital importance of defending the inherited rights of Englishmen and resisting tyrannical government. That was the cornerstone principle of the newly constituted American government, that was the Founders’ most lasting contribution to American politics, and that is the contribution that the “politically correct” and “progressive” centralizers would like you to forget when they disparage the Southern Founders and their devotion to liberty, limited government, the English common law tradition, and states’ rights.

Myth: Paul Revere single-handedly warned the Boston countryside of the impending British invasion

This myth falls under the historical embellishment category. If you attended school in the United States after the early nineteenth century—and if you are reading this, I am certain you did—then you probably heard the story of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, about how he singlehandedly alerted the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord that “The British are coming!” and helped spark the Revolution. This makes for a good story (or poem), but like Washington chopping down the cherry tree, it is almost entirely false.

The fabrication of the Revere story can be traced to 1860. On the eve of the American Civil War, New England poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a poem entitled “Paul Revere’s Ride.” His purpose was to stir patriotic sentiment in New England by reminding his countrymen of their past. The last stanza of the poem was a direct call for action against the South. “A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, / And a word that shall echo for evermore! / For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, / Through all our history, to the last, / In the hour of darkness and peril and need, / The people will waken and listen to hear / The hurrying hoofbeats of that steed, / And the midnight message of Paul Revere.” The Union was in peril, and Paul Revere became the symbolic figure of action, the “night-wind of the Past.”

Thus, a politically aimed work of fiction became the accepted story for the events of 18–19 April 1775. But what really happened? On the night of 18 April, British troops, “regulars,” were ordered to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams in Lexington, Massachusetts, and then to seize arms and provisions at the Concord arsenal. After he discovered the plot, Revere and another rider, William Dawes, took opposite routes to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams. (The idea was that if one were captured, the other would arrive safely with the warning.) Along the way, Revere and Dawes tried to warn people that the “regulars are coming out.” Other riders joined them, spreading the message, and by the early hours of 19 April, probably forty men rode through the countryside warning their neighbors of the impending invasion.

Revere arrived in Lexington first and met with Hancock and Adams. Dawes arrived thirty minutes later. Joined by Samuel Prescott, they rode on to warn the people of Concord of the impending attack. But before they reached the town, British sentries stopped them at a roadblock. Revere was arrested, but Dawes and Prescott escaped. Dawes, however, fell off his horse and was injured, leaving Prescott to alert the Minutemen of Concord on his own. Meanwhile, a group of Patriots freed Revere from the three British guards who were escorting him to Lexington. Revere, reunited with Prescott, managed to help Hancock and his family escape Lexington before the British arrived.

Revere’s actions were heroic, but Longfellow took a little poetic license with the facts.

Myth: Benjamin Franklin had thirteen to eighty illegitimate children!

This myth has been around for a long while, and is even, apparently, perpetuated by tour guides in Philadelphia. In my experience as a professor lecturing students, the image of the balding, portly Franklin as the consummate ladies man incites giggles from women and shocked astonishment from men. Those reactions are justified because the image is based on a myth, or at least an enormous exaggeration.

Franklin never married in a religious ceremony, and this fact might have contributed to the myth that he fathered numerous illegitimate children. Franklin courted young Deborah Reed of Philadelphia when he was only seventeen. Because Franklin was being sent to London by the Pennsylvania governor’s request and would not be back for some time, Reed’s mother refused to allow her daughter to marry. Reed married John Rogers, a notorious debtor who soon fled to Barbados to avoid possible incarceration.

Franklin, meanwhile, had returned to Philadelphia and fathered an illegitimate son named William, but was also eager to rekindle the relationship with his lost love, Deborah. Reed never obtained a legal divorce from her husband, and John Rogers was never heard from again. Therefore, without a divorce or a death certificate, Franklin and Reed were forced to marry through a common-law union in 1730. Shortly thereafter, Deborah Reed took the infant William Franklin (who had been born earlier that year) into her home. It has been speculated that William Franklin’s mother was a servant in the Franklin household. This might help explain the apparent strained relationship between Deborah and William. Some historians have claimed that Franklin fathered another illegitimate child, a girl, who later married John Foxcroft of Philadelphia. Details of this child are difficult to find, and it might be nothing more than speculation or hearsay, but it also could have fueled the wild imaginations of Franklin detractors. Benjamin and Deborah Franklin did have two children together, a son named Francis Folger who died of smallpox at the age of four, and a daughter, Sarah, who married Franklin’s successor to the office of postmaster general, Richard Bache.

Deborah Franklin died in 1774 when Benjamin Franklin was approaching seventy. This is when the story becomes more interesting and possibly salacious. Franklin was a man of fine taste who loved European court life, particularly in France. Franklin drew considerable attention from French women, and he, in turn, enjoyed their company. He was sent to France in 1776 to act as a special envoy on behalf of the American cause of independence. While in Paris, he became close with Anne-Catherine de Ligniville, the widow of the French philosophe Helvetius.

Franklin apparently proposed marriage, but she declined in deference to her deceased husband. Franklin and Madame Helvetius were both in advanced age, and it would be highly unlikely that she could have produced children even if they sustained an intimate relationship. She did organize one of the more popular salons in France and enjoyed the company of many notable men and, of course, many ladies of society, women Franklin frequently charmed.

In 1777, Franklin was introduced to thirty-three-year-old Madame Anne-Louise d’Hardancourt Brillon de Jouy. She was enamored with the American philosopher and is reported to have called him “Papa.” Their relationship, while flirtatious, appears to have been nothing more than innocent. Franklin often complained that she too often withheld her kisses and rejected his affection. For her part, Brillon often corrected Franklin’s French and tried to convert him to Catholicism. From the written evidence, it would be difficult to deduce anything more than the image of Franklin as a persistent suitor and Brillon as a coy object of affection.

Interestingly, both Franklin’s son and grandson fathered illegitimate children, making the practice a “family tradition.” But, while Franklin’s moral reputation suffers from his past indiscretions (William Franklin), his common-law marriage to Deborah, and the sheer volume of letters and references to French female interests, nothing connects him to more than two possible illegitimate children. Franklin loved the company of women, but the evidence that he was a prodigal fornicator is anecdotal at best and fabricated at worst.

Myth: Thomas Jefferson kept a concubine slave and fathered children with her!

In 1802, James T. Callender published an editorial in the Richmond Recorder that claimed President Thomas Jefferson had fathered a child with Sally Hemings, one of his own slaves. The story gained traction in the Federalist press (Jefferson was a Republican), but Jefferson ignored the allegation and never commented on it. His non-response has created two hundred years of speculation, a process that culminated in the 1998 DNA tests of several families that claimed connection to Jefferson. To those who wanted to believe the story, the DNA results “proved” that Jefferson did indeed father at least one of Hemings’ children. This conclusion has now been stated as “fact” in many newer books on the subject, and one History Channel documentary on United States presidents spent almost as much time on Sally Hemings as it did on Jefferson’s accomplishments as a statesman.

The Sally Hemings story is a fine example of irresponsible scholarship based largely on contestable circumstantial evidence. Even before he wrote the story linking Jefferson to Hemings, Callender had earned a notorious reputation. He had written a stinging pamphlet in 1796 that accused Alexander Hamilton of corruption and adultery. Hamilton admitted to the latter but denied the former. He was ultimately exonerated of having done anything illegal. Jefferson, ironically, had encouraged Callender when his targets were Federalists, like Hamilton, and even financed some of his projects.

Callender was arrested under the Sedition Act in 1800, was fined $250, and spent almost a year in jail. After Jefferson assumed the presidency in 1801, he pardoned Callender. Shortly thereafter, Callender, in need of money, pressed Jefferson for the job of postmaster in Richmond, Virginia. True to form, Callender’s request included an insinuation of blackmail if Jefferson refused. Jefferson had come to see Callender for the scamp that he really was and refused to appoint someone with such a seedy past to any federal position.

Callender took a job with the anti-Jefferson newspaper the Recorder. He revealed that Jefferson had bankrolled some of his earlier scandalous writings—a charge that Jefferson was forced to admit. Callender then hit him with the Hemings story. Callender had never visited Monticello and based his information on the fact that several of Jefferson’s slaves were light skinned. Callender later implicated Jefferson in the seduction of a married woman. Jefferson eventually confessed to that charge, but deflected the Hemings accusation by pretending it did not exist (at least in public privately he denied it). In 1802, one of Callender’s public targets clubbed him over the head. A year later, Callender was found drowned . . . in two feet of water. By the time Jefferson died in 1826, few remembered the accusations, save for the occasional snide attack in the Northern abolitionist press. That changed in 1873.

Madison Hemings, the youngest son of Sally Hemings, granted abolitionist newspaperman Samuel Wetmore an interview in 1873. Madison had intimated to close family and friends that he was Jefferson’s son and disclosed this alleged relationship to Wetmore, who published it in his newspaper in Ohio. The story quickly spread across the country. Critics argued that Wetmore’s article was a mere rewrite of Callender’s original (the same word was even misspelled), and Jefferson’s grandchildren denied its accusations. For most people that again put an end to it. Fast forward one hundred years. Fawn Brodie’s 1974 book Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History revived interest in the “affair.” Brodie sided with Madison Hemings and argued that Jefferson fathered all of Sally Hemings’ children.

Historians, including Jefferson’s most important biographer, Dumas Malone, doubted the Hemings story, but the general public seemed eager to accept it. Twenty years later, lawyer Annette Gordon-Reed published Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy in an attempt to vindicate Madison Hemings. The book and modern advancements in DNA technology led to several members of the Jefferson and Hemings line having their DNA analyzed. The results showed that a “male” in Thomas Jefferson’s family was indeed a direct ancestor of the Hemings children, principally Madison Hemings, but did not conclusively prove that Thomas Jefferson was the link. A 2000 study conducted by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, however, determined that Jefferson was, unequivocally, the father of Madison Hemings and possibly Sally Hemings’ other children. Omitted from the report was the one dissenting voice on the committee, the medical doctor charged with verifying the DNA tests. Though noting that Jefferson could have been the father of Hemings’ children, he preferred to leave the question open due to the circumstantial nature of the evidence, and argued that the majority of the committee had arrived at their conclusion before examining all available information. In essence, most of the committee believed the burden was to prove Jefferson innocent, not guilty.

In 2001, the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, a group that possessed more academic clout than the Foundation, released a report that directly contradicted the Foundation’s conclusions. In the summary to their findings, the scholars stated, “With the exception of one member. . . our individual conclusions range from serious skepticism about the charge to a conviction that it is almost certainly false.” The scholars’ report identified various inconsistencies in both the oral and written records that the Foundation used to indict Jefferson, and argued that Madison Hemings was upset because he felt Jefferson and his family had not treated the Hemings family well. The scholars also noted that Jefferson’s overseer, Edmund Bacon, had not only flatly denied that Jefferson had fathered any of Sally Hemings’ children, but reported that he had seen a white man— not Thomas Jefferson—leave Hemings’ bedchamber many mornings before work. The scholars pointed to Jefferson’s brother, often called “Uncle Randolph,” as the probable father of Heming’s children. Randolph Jefferson was reported to have a social relationship with the Monticello slaves and had possibly fathered other children through his own servants.

Because of the circumstantial nature of the evidence in the case, it cannot be proven conclusively that Jefferson fathered any of Sally Hemings’ children. It is possible but not probable. If Jefferson were to stand trial for paternity with the current evidence in hand, an honest jury would find him “not guilty.” So should historians and so should the public.

Myth: Washington had an affair with his neighbor’s wife!

This myth has been a rumor since the publication of a suspect letter in the New York Herald in 1877. The contents of the letter seemed to indicate that Washington and Sally Fairfax, the beautiful, intelligent, graceful, and potentially flirtatious wife of his good friend and neighbor George William Fairfax, had a passionate, romantic interest in one another.

Washington attended the union of Sally and George William Fairfax at Mount Vernon shortly before the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1753. Sally Fairfax and Washington also spent time together at balls and while Washington was recovering from a bout of dysentery in 1757 (George William Fairfax was in London). One year later, Washington proposed marriage to Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy and socially popular widow, but not the same reported picture of beauty and grace as his neighbor’s wife.

According to the “discovered” letters, Washington professed his love for Sally Fairfax shortly after proposing to Martha Custis, but he realized the impossibility of a romance under the circumstances. In a second letter to Fairfax, Washington compared the two “romantics” to fictional characters Cato and Juba in the famous Joseph Addison play Cato. Combined, the letters seem to indicate that Washington considered his impending marriage to Custis as nothing more than a matter of social convenience, more of a consolation prize, and that he would have preferred the forbidden fruits of a married woman.

There are several problems with this line of reasoning. First, no evidence of an affair exists. Washington’s primary biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman, wrote that such an affair would surely been the subject of considerable gossip in Virginia’s elite circles. Freeman believed Washington loved Sally Fairfax, but she did not return the admiration and never spoke a word to anyone about it. Fairfax was described as a “prudish” woman, and Washington wished to remain in the good graces of the Virginia gentry. An affair would have tarnished his reputation and violated his ethics as a gentleman. Washington may have wished to know that Fairfax loved him, but he never pursued her either before or after his engagement to Custis.

After their marriage, George and Martha Washington frequently invited the Fairfax family to Mount Vernon, and Loyalist George Fairfax was the first to correspond with Washington from England at the conclusion of the Revolution. Washington even invited them to stay at Mount Vernon while their home was rebuilt after the war. Such cordial conversation would probably have been impossible between two men who loved the same woman, unless Washington had always hidden his feelings and maintained a proper state of decorum.

Second, while these letters have been cited on numerous occasions since John C. Fitzpatrick, who worked at the Library of Congress and had an enormous interest in Washington, included the letters in his thirtyseven volume series of Washington’s writings and correspondence (published between 1931 and 1944), their authenticity has always been in question. The letters were sold at auction the day after they were originally published in 1877, were never subjected to proper scrutiny, were doubted at the time, and have since disappeared. Fitzpatrick considered omitting the letters but reluctantly included them in the collection. Freeman believes this was justified since the style of the letters points to their authenticity and “forgery would not be easy,” 4 but he also concluded that they offered no evidence of anything more than the memory of an infatuation.

The only honest conclusion, based on the existing evidence, is that Washington and Fairfax never consummated an affair and indeed behaved entirely honorably. It is true that women considered Washington to be dashing and gallant, but it is equally true that his marriage to Martha Custis appeared to be a happy union without any known improprieties.

Myth: Alexander Hamilton had a gay lover!

One often gets the impression that myths like this are perpetrated to justify modern moral impropriety. Hamilton certainly had a colorful career and death, but this accusation is based on amateur psychoanalysis and extremely circumstantial evidence. If Hamilton was gay, he certainly did a fine job of hiding it throughout his adult life.

The myth of Hamilton’s homosexual past centers on his relationship with John Laurens of South Carolina. Both men served under George Washington during the American Revolution. Washington referred to his staff officers as his “family” during the war, and Laurens and Hamilton developed a close relationship. When the two were apart, they corresponded frequently. Their letters were written in the flowery language of the eighteenth century, and while they would raise suspicion in modern American society, they were typical in style and tone for their time. Hamilton told Laurens that he loved him, and Laurens referred to Hamilton as “My Dear.” They were both young, involved in a dire situation, and had idealistic notions about life and society. They were kindred spirits, but no hint of a sexual relationship exists. Hamilton in fact requested that Laurens find him a wife. He described her desired attributes in detail, particularly her looks. Within a year, Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler, the daughter of a wealthy American general Philip Schuyler. The two had eight children together and from all appearances had a healthy relationship, though with some indiscretion on Hamilton’s part. There were rumors that Hamilton and Elizabeth’s sister, Angelica, had an affair, but the family edited Hamilton’s letters after his death, so no conclusive evidence exists.

Hamilton did have an affair with a married woman in 1791. Maria and James Reynolds concocted a scheme to milk Hamilton for money. Maria Reynolds planned to seduce Hamilton, and James Reynolds, her husband, would then extort “hush” money from him. The scheme worked perfectly, only Hamilton continued to pay James Reynolds for the “use” of his wife long after the initial blackmail. James Reynolds was eventually arrested for counterfeiting, and in the process implicated Hamilton. James Monroe and Aaron Burr interviewed Hamilton, but found Hamilton innocent of the charges of corruption and counterfeiting, though Hamilton was forthcoming about the affair. Monroe and Burr decided to keep the affair secret, but James T. Callender caught wind of the illicit story and exposed Hamilton. Surprisingly, Hamilton publicly admitted to the affair. Thus, while Hamilton was an adulterer, his known and suspected affairs were all with women, not men. The Hamilton rumor, unfortunately, has been seized upon by activist groups who want to make him a champion of gay rights, for which there is not a shred of evidence. Hamilton deserves to be remembered for many things, but homosexual activism isn’t one of them.


América

The Founding of the First Government of the United States…a Timeline.

The Founding of The United States of America did not begin with a single event. Our Founding was prompted by a series of events that spanned decades.

The Experience of Our Founders

Founding Fathers and Mothers of the U.S.A. were learned citizens with great knowledge of European governance and considerable experience with self-government before the writing of the Constitution. Perhaps more importantly, the Founders were grounded in a knowledge of humankind and the forces of both good and bad government.

Their combined experiences and knowledge and human truths, along with the well-documented strong grounding in their faiths, coupled with the trials handled as a young nation culminated in the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent writing of The Constitution of the United States of America.

UMA constitution is a set of rules that determines how power will be used legitimately in a state. Contrary to popular belief, few governments have been created by written constitutions. The Founders understood the dangers of several forms of government and held confidence in the formation of a country based on a Constitution and in the establishment of a Constitutional Republic.

The table, below, lists significant events in the life of a new country that led to the Founding of The United States of America.

The Timeline of the Events Which Prompted the Founding of the United States of America:

MAJOR EVENTS IN THE FOUNDING OF THE UNITED STATES
Encontro Event
1607 First permanent British colony at Jamestown, Virginia
1620 Pilgrims land in Massachusetts
1620–1732 Founding of the thirteen colonies colonists govern themselves and develop idea of limited government
1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties passed it protects rights of individuals
1764 Sugar Act taxes sugar
1765 Stamp Act taxes a variety of goods
1770 Boston Massacre
1773 Boston Tea Party
1775 Revolutionary War begins
1776 Second Continental Congress convenes Declaration of Independence is written
1781 Ratification of the Articles of Confederation
1783 Treaty of Paris ends the Revolutionary War
1786 Shays’ Rebellion begins in western Massachusetts
1786 Annapolis Convention calls on Congress to convene a meeting to fix the Articles
1787 Convenção constitucional
1787–1789 Battle to ratify the Constitution
1789 Constitution ratified the new United States government takes power
George Washington and his men, Crossing the Potomac

Immediately following the ratification of The Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights with the first ten Amendments to the Constitution were added to the Constitution to create the most lasting freedom any country in history has ever experienced.

This is the brief synopsis and timeline of how the American story began. Being brief, it does not speak of the hardships, struggles and fights of the new nation and its quest for freedom. This timeline, though, does give us a quick picture of the early days of our country.

-The Founding Project Admin Staff Writer

Sources: The Heritage Foundation, The U. S. Constitution Center, The National Constitution Center


List of Founding Fathers of the United States

There is no fixed way of listing who constitutes an American Founding Father, this is because there were many fighters involved in the independence struggles. As a result of that, the list appears truncated or elongated. It must be noted that the 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence are sometimes considered to be part of the Founding Fathers.

Also, two broader groups of Founding Fathers capture the signers of Articles of Confederation (the initial version of the American Constitution which was adopted in 1777 and ratified in 1781) and the signers of the Continental Association (created on October 20, 1774).

Inasmuch as the list varies, our list of American Founding Fathers shall focus on the popular and key political figures whose contributions were so invaluable. They were prominent politicians such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Marshall, Samuel Adams, James Madison, and the like.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

Founding Father General George Washington (1732 – 1799)

Washington was a successful Virginian farmer and slave master with hundreds of servants. He developed a strong resentment towards the intolerable taxation schemes (“Intolerable Acts”) Britain imposed on the American colonies.

As if he had been waiting impatiently for it to happen, Washington responded swiftly to duty when the Revolutionary War sparked in 1775. He was appointed by the Continental Congress to command the Continental Army, which more or less acted as the security body of the Americans.

Washington’s Army, as it was sometimes called, had a fair share of defeats and disappointment, but the commander never backed down. Even though he lost on several occasions on the battlefield, he fought on with all his might through unfavorable winter weathers at the Valley Forge.

With assistance from French forces, General Washington and his army were able to fight off the British. By 1783, the American colonies had successfully liberated themselves from the clutches of their colonial masters.

After the war, Washington tried to retire to his farm, but the loving and appreciative Americans convinced him to stay in politics. In 1789, Americans massively endorsed Washington as the 1st President of the USA. Many historians regard him as the greatest founding figure in America.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON

Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (c. 1755 – 1804)

Rising from a poverty-stricken family background, Alexander Hamilton became a colossal politician in New York. After his emigration to the US from British West Indies, Hamilton would go on to feature heavily during the days of the American Revolution. As a junior officer, he had the opportunity to fight side-by-side with Gen. George Washington.

A staunch Federalist, Hamilton always believed in a centrally structured American government, that is, federal rights over state rights. His defining moment came when he was part of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Hamilton authored a good number of the Federalist Papers, calling for the Constitution to be ratified.

Hamilton’s exploits and commitment to the new nation did not go unnoticed. In 1789, President George Washington tapped into Hamilton’s wisdom by selecting him to man the affairs of the U.S. Treasury. His appointment meant that he was the first American to occupy that position.

During his time as secretary of the treasury, he used his office to initiate the establishment of a national bank. Despite his selfless service to the United States, Hamilton’s life ended tragically in 1804 when he had a gun duel with his fiercest political opponent, Aaron Burr.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was also a serial inventor

Benjamin Franklin was a renowned writer, inventor, a scientific guru, and a gifted diplomat. Despite attaining inadequate formal education, Benjamin couldn’t be stopped from making an impact on his home state of Philadelphia and the USA at large.

In the scientific community, Franklin is renowned for several scientific ideas that include the bifocals, harnessing electrical energy and music (the glass harmonica).

Franklin’s patriotism knew no boundary. He took a lot of interest in civic affairs and often contributed his quota in the advancement of liberty in every possible way.

During the early phase of the Revolution, Franklin constituted the Committee of Five who produced a draft of the Declaration of Independence. The other four members of the committee comprised Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson -Virginia delegate Roger Sherman- Connecticut delegate John Adams – Massachusetts delegate and Robert R. Livingston-New York delegate.

As the Revolution raged on, Franklin was dispatched to several European countries to lobby for political and economic assistance in the Revolution. In 1783, he played roles in the negotiation of the Treaty of Paris that put an end to the war. Before passing away on April 17, 1790, he served in the 1787 Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia.

JOHN ADAMS

Founding Father John Adams became the second President of the U.S.

John Adams was a Massachusetts-born American patriot who had his law degree from Harvard. Adams’ name featured prominently in the First and Second Continental Congresses. He was part of the Declaration of Independence drafting committee (the Committee of Five), whose works provided the conditions necessary for the adoption of the sacred document.

John Adams partook in the negotiation of the Treaty of Paris of 1783. The treaty brought hostilities between Great Britain and the U.S. to a halt. As a learned political philosopher, Adams was a visionary who became President George Washington’s vice for two consecutive terms, from 1789 to 1797. John Adams holds the honor of being the first vice president of the U.S.

His political career grew further when he succeeded George Washington to became America’s second president from 1797 to 1801. Adams’ presidency came at a time when Britain and France were warring with each other. His tenure was also marred by several political infighting between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. This left the United States in a bit of difficulty, both at home and abroad.

JAMES MADISON

America’s 4th President- Founding Father James Madison

James Madison was born in Virginia in 1751. He graduated from Princeton University where he studied science, philosophy, and classical Greek. In 1772, Madison found himself in the circles of the American Revolution.

In December 1774, Orange County had Madison on its Committee of Safety. A year later, he entered the Virginian militia. Gradually he rose to the rank of a Colonel.

Endowed with writing skills, the learned man utilized his abilities at the Virginia Convention in 1776 he represented the Orange County. It was around this time that he and Thomas Jefferson (another Founding Father) developed a close working relationship with each other. The two heroes contributed in various ways in laying the pillars of American democracy.

As a prolific writer, Madison worked with George Mason to draft the Virginian Constitution when he was appointed to the constitutional committee. He is most famous for drafting the First 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution during the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1789.

As a result of his tireless work, as well as his expertise on the Constitution, Madison is seen as the “Father of the American Constitution”.

In 1801, after earlier enjoying a political career as a Congressman, Madison hopped into the administration of President Thomas Jefferson and worked as secretary of state. When he eventually ran for the US presidency in 1808, he secured a landslide victory, becoming the fourth president of the United States in 1809.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd President of the United States

Born on his father’s farm in central Virginia, on April 13, 1743, Thomas Jefferson personally inscribed his achievements in an epitaph. After studying at the William and Mary College, Jefferson delved into law for five years. By 1767, he had gotten his very first law case.

His contribution to colonial politics started in 1774 when he drafted the directions meant for Virginia delegates to the First Continental Congress. As the chosen one from Virginia, Jefferson assisted his fellow Founding Fathers to lay down building blocks for the new American government that was fast emerging.

The Second Continental Congress saw Jefferson take lead roles in drafting the Declaration of Independence. He put down the opinions and arguments of the colonies into paper and explained why the colonies had grown above colonialism, and by that, they declared themselves independent in July 1776. The document also detailed the equal and inherent rights of the citizens, irrespective of social classes.

After leaving Congress in 1776, Jefferson went back to serve in the Virginian legislature. Between 1779 and 1781, he was the governor of his state. Still determined to serve the new nation, Jefferson accepted to the position of U.S. Secretary of State (the first of our nation) in George Washington’s administration.

Jefferson went on to become vice president (from 1797 to 1801) and then President of the USA after beating John Adams in a tough presidential race. His time in office lasted for two consecutive terms, from 1801 to 1809.

JOHN MARSHALL

Founding Father John Marshall (1755-1835)

Born in 1775, in Germantown, Virginia, John Marshall served in the American Revolution as a lieutenant and later a captain in the Continental Army. He and his troops showed steel of coverage as the were battered down during the winter months of 1777-79 in the Valley of Forge. In 1781, Marshall released himself from military duties and went to study law. He later set up law firms in Virginia.

The legal prowess of John Marshall was exhibited in 1786 when he achieved victory in a prominent legal battle. The Virginia-born lawyer also presided over the Virginian bar and doubled as Virginia Assembly member.

Founding Father Marshall played vital roles in several Virginia State conventions, as well as the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787. And during France’s war with Britain, John Adams appointed Marshall to negotiate with France, following the seizure of American vessels.

Marshall briefly served as US Secretary of state (1800 to 1801) in John Adams’ government and was later appointed to lead the Supreme Court as a Chief Justice in 1801. John Marshall carried out his duties diligently in the U.S. Supreme Court for more than 3 decades.

SAMUEL ADAMS

Founding Father Samuel Adams (1722 – 1803)

Samuel Adams was a cousin to John Adams. Born in 1722 in Boston, Massachusetts, Samuel Adams grew up in a merchant family. Growing up in a family that valued and practiced Congregational and Puritan religious faiths, Samuel’s parents would have preferred their son to be a clergyman instead of a politician.

Graduating from Harvard University, Samuel Adams realized his passion lied in politics and civil service, so he stuck to it and became deeply involved in the American Revolution. In Boston, Samuel and others founded a political newspaper called the “Independent Advertiser”.

He took many odd jobs (including one as a tax collector) and quite frankly failed miserably at them. As he gained prominence in local politics, Samuel began to vent his anger at the unfavorable tax policies (the Coercive Acts) imposed on the colonies by Great Britain. He was a known critic of Stamp Act, Sugar Act, Boston Massacre and countless injustices.

As co-founder of the revolutionary group Sons of Liberty, Samuel Adams masterminded the Boston Tea Party demonstration. He was part of the First and Second Continental Congresses, and he also penned his signature on the Declaration of Independence.

JOHN JAY

Founding Father John Jay (1745-1829)

Born in 1745, John Jay was a great New Yorker. He is remembered as a patriot, politician, diplomat, and above all, a Founding Father of the USA. Jay occupied various positions of service after the birth of the much-desired United States of America.

In 1783, Jay proudly partook in negotiations that led to the signing of the Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolutionary Wars. He also went down into recorded history as the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1789 to 1795). After his departure from the court, Jay went back to his home state New York and served as the state’s second governor.

After seeing to it that the US Constitution was drafted and ratified, Founding Father John Jay sat on foreign matters of the US. In 1796 & 1800, his bid for the presidential office ended in defeats at the polls.

As New York governor, Jay did the right thing when he signed a 1799 bill, banning slavery in that state. At long last, Jay (a slave master himself) came to his moral senses and outlawed human enslavement. Judging from John Jay’s long list of political achievements, there is no doubt as to why his name makes the list of the most prominent Founding Founders of the United States.

JAMES MONROE

Fifth President of the United States, James Monroe (1758 – 1831)

Born in 1758, in Westmoreland County of Virginia, James Monroe was a Founding Father and an ex-president of the United States. He entered into the public domain and gained popularity for his foreign affairs policies which became known as the Monroe Doctrine.

Prior to rising to the highest office (the presidency), James Monroe had spent quite a lot of years in public service at home and in abroad. Monroe studied law under the guidance of Thomas Jefferson and went on to have a very distinguished law career.

Monroe’s fellow founders and colleagues admired his sense of judgment, honesty, and kindness. Aside from being the 5th US President, James Monroe’s name was used in naming Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. His link to the small West African country was as a result of his commitment to freeing slaves and repatriating them to their homelands. Liberia, a nation founded by freed slaves from America, certainly owes a lot to James Monroe.


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Comentários:

  1. Skylor

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  2. Andsaca

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  3. Kajijas

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  4. Nikoktilar

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