There is a common misconception out there that is being perpetrated by the Republican-Tea Party that the 13 original colonies rebelled against the Kingdom of Great Britain due to some lofty principle as the right of the people to determine their government instead of a monarch who claimed “Divine Right.”  In my opinion this is a misconception that needs to be brought out into the open.

They claim that the Founding Fathers wanted independence so that the colonists could rule themselves as was there right.  This is not correct and there is ample evidence out there to prove that.

It is my assertion that the Founding Fathers were elitists mostly from either the landed gentry or from the merchant class and they incited a revolution in order to protect their livelihoods because the policies of the British Government were restricting their income.

First, let’s take a look at who exactly the Founding Fathers are.  It is generally accepted that there are seven primary Founding Fathers.  They are:  Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. There are others associated with these gentleman but these in my view were the primary Founding Fathers.

Let’s look at each one of them individually.  The first one is Benjamin Franklin.  Mr. Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17, 1706.  He was a son of a soap maker and a candle maker.

Although he was born to a working class family he later became a very wealthy publisher and author.  He founded “Poor Richards Almanack” as well as the publisher of the “Philadelphia Gazette.”

Franklin’s main objective to the British Government was a result of the Stamp Act.  This act required that a stamp was placed on all official documents as well as books and newspapers.  You had to pay a tax in order to get the stamp affixed to any documents.  Now bear in mind Mr. Franklin had definite republican tendencies due to his Puritan upbringing but the Stamp Act was his main motivation for wanting independence.

The second Founding Father was George Washington.  Mr. Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland Co., Virginia.  He was born to a family of planters and his family was one of the founding families of the Colony of Virginia and he was an established member of the Church of England and a pillar of the community.

Washington was a member of the Virginia militia and his invasion of Ft. Duquesne before war was declared with France was probably one of the precipitators of the war.

Throughout the French and Indian War, Washington, as a colonel was often treated poorly by British officers of all ranks and this may have been the start of his republican leanings.

After the war, the British Parliament passed a series of revenue (taxes) acts to help pay for the war.  Many of these taxes affected Washington’s plantation and this might have been what pushed him over the edge to support the colonists in independence.

The third Founding Father was John Adams.  Mr. Adams was born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts.  He was a fifth generation descendant of one of the founding families of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  His father was a Puritan deacon and his family was one of the established families of Boston.

Even before the Revolution he was a prominent lawyer and public figure.  He was vilified by the public and especially by his second cousin, Samuel Adams for defending the British soldiers who fired on the crowd at the Boston Massacre causing the death of Crispus Atticus.  Six soldiers were acquitted and the two that fired into the crowd were convicted of manslaughter.

What brought Adams into the revolutionary fray was in 1772 when Governor Hutchinson informed the Massachusetts legislature that his salary and the salaries of the colonial judges would be paid by the King from collected duties.

Adams was persuaded to argue that this was a violation of the Charter granted by King James I and that payment by collected duties on the order of the British Parliament was a violation of that charter and it left the colonists no other alternative then to declare themselves independent.

The entire involvement on Adam’s part had nothing to do with “Divine Right” or republicanism, but on salaries.  Hardly on lofty principles it would seem.

The fourth Founding Father was Thomas Jefferson.  Mr. Jefferson was born on April 13, 1747 in Shadwell, Virginia, the son of a prominent planter.  Like George Washington, Jefferson came from the landed gentry, but unlike Washington, Jefferson did not join the military.  He was a well educated lawyer and politician as well as a prolific writer.

He was probably influenced partially because the gentry were economically affected by the tax policies of the British Parliament.

The fifth Founding Father was John Jay.  Mr. Jay was born on December 12, 1745 in New York, New York.  He was the son of wealthy merchants.

John Jay was a lawyer and had an established law practice with Robert Livingston.

He was in the First Committee of Correspondence of New York in 1774.  He represented the conservative faction who was interested in protecting property rights of the affluent.  This was hardy a lofty principle of republicanism.

The sixth Founding Father was James Madison.  Mr. Madison was born on March 16, 1751 in Port Conway, Virginia.  He was the son of a prominent plantation owner.  Their primary crop was tobacco and after Madison inherited the plantation from his father, he expanded it to make it the largest plantation of any type in Orange County, Virginia.

Madison was also an attorney and was considered a protégé of Thomas Jefferson.

As with most planters and merchants the revenue acts passed by the British Parliament directly affected their livelihoods.

The seventh and final Founding Father that we are going to discuss is Alexander Hamilton.  Mr. Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 or 1757 in Nevis, Caribbean.  He was the only Founding Father born outside of the Thirteen Colonies.

He was the illegitimate child of a James Hamilton who abandoned him and his mother at an early age.

Hamilton is probably the only Founding Father who was born from humble beginnings.  He was denied membership in the Church of England because his parents were not married and this may have been the beginning of his anti-British sentiments.

He was adopted into a family of merchants and once again he may have been influenced by the restrictions that the British Government put on their business via the revenue acts.

The popular belief perpetrated by the RTP is that the Founding Fathers had all these lofty principles as far as founding our country.  In my view this is a misinterpretation of history.  I assert that this country was founded on money and wealth.  The corporate influences that permeate our government today are the natural evolution of the landed gentry and merchant class of the Eighteenth Century.

The Founding Fathers did not trust the working class or the rabble as they used to call it.  Why do you think that we have the Electoral College?

Now, I am not asserting that money was the only motivation.  The American Age of Enlightenment had a lot to do with it as well as the writings of Locke and Rousseau.

What I am asserting is this.  Money was the initial piece of ammunition.  If the Parliament had not passed these revenue laws and if George III hadn’t taken such a principled hard lined stance on this we would probably still be flying the Union Jack over what is now the United States.

 

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