Today we celebrate the founding of our nation and by default, the men who made it possible. We honor their intelligence, their ingenuity and their bravery, and to show how much we appreciate their immeasurable contribution, we’ve decided to nitpick and rank them!
So without further ado, in order from worst to best, here are just a few of our Founding Fathers:
7. Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams was an aggressive radical organizer and a stickler for Puritan virtue. 300-year-old details tend to get a little lost in the mix, but it’s highly likely he was instrumental in organizing the Boston Tea Party, or at least he was very vocal before and after the event. And we can all agree that a collection of grown men dressing up like Indians and throwing a bunch of tea into the ocean is completely ridiculous. All of this is useful and necessary in a revolution, but you probably wouldn’t really want to hang out with him.
6. John Hancock
John Hancock was a Samuel Adams protegee, but he later distanced himself from Adams because his taste for the finer things in life was at odds with Adams’ Puritanism. He may have been a smuggler, but he was definitely smug about his famously enormous signature on the Declaration — brave, but also a flashy bid for attention.
5. Thomas Jefferson
Monticello is cool, and the prose of the Declaration of Independence is very cool, but the disparity between his equality rhetoric and his slaveholding was not very cool. This is somewhat personal for us because during a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, we asked a Thomas Jefferson impersonator why he said all men were created equal while holding slaves, and he said he was protecting them, and that is a nonsense argument — so yes, this is all coming from childhood disillusionment.
Also, states’ rights to the degree he wanted is completely unsustainable.
4. Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin is the United States’ lovable, brilliant but also completely bonkers uncle. When he wasn’t inventing bifocals at the crack of dawn, he was negotiating in Paris or editing a newspaper while playing the glass armonica — which he also invented. He was quirky and moral, and he’s on the $100 bill, so it’s always a pleasure to see his wise, round face staring at you, judging you for waking up at 1 p.m. and not inventing anything yet.
3. John Adams
John Adams was a curmudgeon with strong convictions and an awesome wife. He defended the British after the Boston Massacre because of his belief in the right to counsel, and he was staunchly antislavery, though not quite an abolitionist. Perhaps his most glaring flaw is his passage of the Sedition Act, but everybody makes mistakes. Coolest of all, he passed away on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration, which he was so instrumental in pushing through, was signed.
2. George Washington
Washington led the Americans to victory against the British and then gracefully and modestly became president by unanimous vote, the only time that has ever happened. His military victories are impressive, but his greatest contribution is in the precedent he set as president. He was decisive and strong, he debated refusing a salary, he avoided extravagance and advised against political parties, he made sure the government was strong and balanced, and then he left office, even though everybody would have kept him there forever, because he truly wanted and believed in a democracy.
1. Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was born an illegitimate orphan in the Caribbean, made his name in the army as an aide to George Washington, helped write the Federalist Papers, served as the first Secretary of Treasury of the United States of America, became the center of one of America’s first but certainly not last sex scandals and then died in a duel to defend his honor. He was scarily ambitious, overcompensating and prideful, and he was also a total badass. If his bio isn’t enough to convince you, look at how good he looks on that $10 bill and then read this about the new Lin Manuel Miranda musical about him.
Image source: John Carroll via Creative Commons