Last updated on: 9/21/2011 | Author: ProCon.org

US Founding Fathers

The term “Founding Fathers” is an inexact term that usually references the 56 signers of the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the 55 delegates to the 1787 US Constitutional Convention. The term has also been applied to Supreme Court justices who served from 1789 to 1795, commanding soldiers in the American Revolution, early government office holders, authors of key Revolutionary-era literature, and delegates to the early Continental Congresses and the 1789 Philadelphia Convention. Some 115 American Revolution-era figures are considered “Founding Fathers.”  

The US National Archives and Records Administration describes the “Founding Fathers” in a document titled “The Founding Fathers: A Brief Overview”:

“In terms of religious affiliation, the men mirrored the overwhelmingly Protestant character of American religiouslife at the time and were members of various denominations. Only two… were Roman Catholics.”

“35 were lawyers or had benefited from legal training… 13 individuals were businessmen, merchants, or shippers…six were major land speculators… 11 speculated in securities on a large scale… 12 owned or managed slave-operated plantations or large farms…two were small farmers… 9 received a substantial part of their income from public office… [and] three had retired from active economic endeavors.”

“Some men held advanced and honorary degrees… [two] were scientists…[Two] were physicians… [one] a university president… [one] a minister, [three or more] had studied theology but had never been ordained.”

“A Considerable number of the men were born into leading families… Others were self-made men who had risen from humble beginnings… Most of the delegates were natives of the 13 colonies. Only eight were born elsewhere… many of them had moved from one state to another… Most of the delegates married and raised children… [but] four were… lifelong bachelors.”


List of Founding Fathers of the United States of America

  Name (alphabetical) State Declaration of Independence Signatory (1776) Constitutional Convention Delegate (1787) Early Supreme Court Justice (1789-1795)
1 John Adams Massachusetts X    
2 Samuel Adams Massachusetts X    
3 Ethan Allen* Vermont * Early American Revolutionary commander
4 Abraham Baldwin Georgia   X  
5 Josiah Bartlett New Hampshire X    
6 Richard Bassett Delaware   X  
7 Gunning Bedford, Jr. Delaware   X  
8 John Blair Virginia   X X
9 Richard Bland* Virginia * Delegate to the Continental Congress (1774-1775)
10 Carter Braxton Virginia X    
11 David Brearly (Brearley) New Jersey   X  
12 Jacob Broom Delaware   X  
13 Pierce Butler South Carolina   X  
14 Charles Carroll of Carrollton Maryland X    
15 Daniel Carroll Maryland   X  
16 Samuel Chase Maryland X    
17 Abraham Clark New Jersey X    
18 George Clinton* Virginia * American Revolutionary soldier, Governor of New York (1801-1804), and US Vice President under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (1805-1812)
19 George Clymer Pennsylvania X X  
20 William Cushing Massachusetts     X
21 William R. Davie North Carolina   X  
22 Jonathan Dayton New Jersey   X  
23 John Dickinson Delaware   X  
24 William Ellery Rhode Island X    
25 Oliver Ellsworth (Elsworth) Connecticut   X X
26 William Few Georgia   X  
27 Tomas Fitzsimons (FitzSimons; Fitzsimmons) Pennsylvania   X  
28 William Floyd New York X    
29 Benjamin Franklin Pennsylvania X X  
30 Elbridge Gerry Massachusetts X X  
31 Nicholas Gilman New Hampshire   X  
32 Nathaniel Gorham Massachusetts   X  
33 Button Gwinnett Georgia X    
34 Lyman Hall Georgia X    
35 Alexander Hamilton New York   X  
36 John Hancock Massachusetts X    
37 Benjamin Harrison Virginia X    
38 John Hart New Jersey X    
39 Patrick Henry* Virginia * Commander in the American Revolution, and Governor of Virginia (1776-1779, 1784-1786)
40 Thomas Heyward, Jr. South Carolina X    
41 Joseph Hewes North Carolina X    
42 William Hooper North Carolina X    
43 Stephen Hopkins Rhode Island X    
44 Francis Hopkinson New Jersey X    
45 William Houston Georgia   X  
46 William C. Houston New Jersey   X  
47 Samuel Huntington Connecticut X    
48 Jared Ingersoll Pennsylvania   X  
49 James Iredell North Carolina     X
50 John Jay New York     X
51 Thomas Jefferson Virginia X    
52 Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Maryland   X  
53 William Samuel Johnson Connecticut   X  
54 Rufas King Massachusetts   X  
55 John Lansing, Jr. New York   X  
56 John Langdon New Hampshire   X  
57 Richard Henry Lee Virginia X    
58 Henry Lee III* Virginia * Soldier in the American Revolution, and Governor of Virginia (1791-1794)
59 Francis Lewis New York X    
60 Francis Lightfoot Lee Virginia X    
61 Philip Livingston New York X    
62 Robert R. Livingston* New York * Member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence (recalled by his state before he could sign it), US Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and US Minister to France
63 William Livingston New Jersey   X  
64 Thomas Lynch, Jr. South Carolina X    
65 James Madison, Jr. Virginia   X  
66 John Marshall* Virginia * Fourth US Supreme Court Justice (1801-1835)
67 Alexander Martin North Carolina   X  
68 Luther Martin Maryland   X  
69 George Mason Virginia   X  
70 James McClurg Virginia   X  
71 James McHenry Maryland   X  
72 Thomas McKean Delaware X    
73 John F. Mercer Maryland   X  
74 Arthur Middleton South Carolina X    
75 Thomas Mifflin Pennsylvania   X  
76 James Monroe* Virginia * Fifth US President (1817-1825)
77 John Morton Pennsylvania X    
78 Gouverneur Morris Pennsylvania   X  
79 Lewis Morris New York X    
80 Robert Morris Pennsylvania X X  
81 Thomas Nelson, Jr. Virginia X    
82 William Paca Maryland X    
83 Robert Treat Paine Massachusetts X    
84 Thomas Paine* Virginia * American Revolutionary author
85 William Paterson (Patterson) New Jersey   X  
86 John Penn North Carolina X    
87 William L. Pierce Georgia   X  
88 Charles Cotesworth Pinckney South Carolina   X  
89 Charles Pinckney South Carolina   X  
90 Edmund J. Randolph Virginia   X  
91 Peyton Randolph* Virginia * First President of the Continental Congress (1774-1775)
92 George Read Delaware X X  
93 Ceasar Rodney Delaware X    
94 George Ross Pennsylvania X    
95 Benjamin Rush Pennsylvania X    
96 Edward Rutledge South Carolina X    
97 John Rutledge South Carolina   X X
98 Roger Sherman Connecticut X X  
99 James Smith Pennsylvania X    
100 Richard Stockton New Jersey X    
101 Richard Dobbs Spaight North Carolina   X  
102 Thomas Stone Maryland X    
103 Caleb Strong Massachusetts   X  
104 George Taylor Pennsylvania X    
105 Matthew Thornton New Hampshire X    
106 George Walton Georgia X    
107 George Washington Virginia   X  
108 William Williams Connecticut X    
109 Hugh Williamson North Carolina   X  
110 James Wilson Pennsylvania X X X
111 William Whipple New Hampshire X    
112 John Witherspoon New Jersey X    
113 Oliver Wolcott Connecticut X    
114 George Wythe Virginia X X  
115 Robert Yates New York   X