In Honor of Presidents Day: The “Top Five” Founding Fathers

(When I was growing up, there was a separate National Holiday for Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12) and Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22), our two greatest presidents. Those holidays are now smooshed into one Presidents Day, and so no one remembers when Lincoln and Washington were born. Some people think that is for the best. I don’t.)

Historians and scholars agree that our greatest Founding Father is George Washington. He was the “Foundingest” Father of them all. He is Number One.  (There is no consensus as to the  “order of greatness” of the next four Founders.)

George Washington – First President

  • Key member of First Continental Congress
  • Commander of Continental Army (renown for bravery, courage, integrity, self-sacrifice, and grit)
  • Brilliant Spymaster
  • President of Constitutional Convention
  • First President of the United States
  • Our greatest President
  • “Father of the Country”
  • Established precedents: “Mr. President,” “So, help me God,” only two terms, no royal carriage
  • Washington Monument
  • Mount Rushmore

John Adams – Second President

  • Key figure in the First Continental Congress
  • Key delegate of the Second Continental Congress
  • “Committee of Five” to draft the Declaration of Independence
  • Key figure in adoption of the Declaration of Independence
  • Pushed for George Washington to command Continental Army
  • Help negotiate the Treaty of Paris officially ending the American Revolution
  • First Vice-President
  • Second President of the United States

Thomas Jefferson – Third President

  • Key figure in Second Continental Congress
  • “Committee of Five” to draft the Declaration of Independence
  • Author and “Father of the Declaration of Independence”
  • Diplomat to France after the War
  • First Secretary of State under George Washington
  • Head of the U.S. Patent Office
  • Second Vice-President under John Adams
  • Third President of the United States
  • One of our greatest presidents
  • Consummated the Louisiana Purchase
  • One of only two American Universal Geniuses
  • Writer (18,000 letters)
  •  Inventor (cipher code, Lazy Susan, pedometer, folding chair)
  • Scholar (Astronomy, Archeology, Paleontology, Agronomy, History, Philosophy, Theology, Linguistics, Languages)
  • Master Architect (Monticello, University of Virginia)
  • Personal library used to re-build the Library of Congress
  • Jefferson Memorial
  • Mount Rushmore

James Madison – Fourth President

  • “Father of the Constitution”
  • “Father of the Bill of Rights”
  • First Graduate of Princeton
  • Moved Capitol from New York to Washington D.C.
  • Won War of 1812, Second War of Independence
  • Only President to join troops in battle
  • “Invented” our form of government
  • Master of Compromise

Benjamin Franklin

  • “The First American”
  • “Grandfather of the Country”
  • “Dr. Franklin” (5 Honorary Graduate Degrees)
  • “The Man Who Saved the Revolution”
  • Ambassador to England before Revolution
  • Select “Committee of Five” to draft the Declaration of Independence
  • Ambassador to France during the Revolution
  • Persuaded France to aid the American Revolution
  • Recruited European military experts to serve as generals in the Continental Army
  • One of only two American Universal geniuses
  • Most quoted American
  • Inventor (Franklin stove, bifocals, urinary catheter, lightning rod)
  • Scientist (electricity, Gulf Stream)
  • Writer and Printer (Poor Richard’s Alamac, paper money, anti-counterfeiting)
  • Leading Citizen (first public library, first volunteer fire department, first sanitation department)
  • President of the Abolitionist Society

The “Top Ten” Founding Fathers

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While there is consensus as to the Top Five Founding Fathers, there is no agreement as to the next five in the Top Ten.  They include:

  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Thomas Paine
  • Samuel Adams
  • George Mason
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul Revere
  • John Jay
  • John Hancock
  • Governor Morris
  • John Marshall

The Great Founding Mothers

Of course, there are influential and great Founding Mothers.  (I have written several articles honoring the Founding Mothers. Sadly, these posts are among the least popular.)  They include:

  • Abigail Adams
  • Martha Washington
  • Dolley Madison

(Other articles at: or

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