The Second Tier of Founding Fathers
The Founding Fathers have clear levels of fame in modern America. The men in this list are the second tier of founding fathers. Most of the names are recognizable, but many people may not be sure why. To see the top level, check out our article on The Big Six.
John Hancock was the wealthy young man who found himself at the center of debate when Britain started employing all the new, unfair taxes.
The taxes were, for the most part, placed on imported goods. Hancock owned the ships that were doing most of the importing.
Although he tried to stay moderate, he was eventually taken under the wing of Sam Adams (see below) and took a revolutionary stand.
Hancock would eventually sign the Declaration of Independence. He then returned to Boston where he would become the First Governor of Massachusetts.
Sam Adams was born to rebel. Luckily for him, he lived in the right place at the right time.
His fight against Parliament’s unfair taxation brought supporters to his cause. Though mostly a leader in Massachusetts, he was on hand to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.
In Massachusetts, Adams would go on to be Lieutenant Governor under Hancock and then Governor himself.
Patrick Henry was an early critic of Britain’s overreaching powers in the colonies.
Henry led Virginia toward independence with his brilliant speaking skills. He had a knack for helping the ‘common man’ see how they were being affected by the issues.
Henry is most famous for the quote, "give me liberty, or give me death."
He would become the first Governor of Virginia and lead the state troops in the beginning of the war.
Thomas Paine was an immigrant who found his calling as an author. He wrote Common Sense which convinced many Americans of the need for independence.
Later, Paine helped George Washington build the moral of soldiers a Valley Forge. He did this by writing The Crisis (“these are the times that try men’s souls”).
John Jay was an important player in the creation of the laws and statesmanship in America. He was an author of the New York State Constitution as well as a Minister to France under the Articles of Confederation.
Jay was a Minister to Spain and signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the American Revolution.
He was the First Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and retired to become Governor of New York.
A Frenchman who was a Founding Father of America? Yep. If you live east of the Mississippi there is a good chance you live within 60 miles of a town, street or square named in his honor.
The Marquis de Lafayette was a rich French orphan who disobeyed direct orders from his King to arm a ship with troops and supplies and sail to America to fight for freedom.
He earned the trust of George Washington, who came to view him as a son.
Lafayette’s influence assisted in earning France’s support in the war. He served with valor in the Battle of Yorktown, helping to win the American Revolution.
Though Aaron Burr is known today for killing Alexander Hamilton, it needs to be noted that he was the Third Vice President of the United States.
- John Adams. 2. Thomas Jefferson. 3. Aaron Burr.
That he held such a position was not an accident.
Burr fought bravely in the War of Independence.
He was a Senator for New York and found his place as Jefferson’s running mate because of his moderate stance.
When the famous duel took place, Burr was running for Governor of New York. Although he is viewed as a quasi-traitor in U.S. history, he solidified the end of the Federalist Party and instituted more than two decades of Democratic-Republican Rule.
Here are some biographies we like about a few of the Founders listed above: