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The United States Constitution

Resources for researching the history, drafting, interpretation, and other elements of the U.S. Constitution.

Introduction

"The Founding Fathers" is the name collectively given to several historical figures who played pivotal roles in America's independence from Great Britain and the establishment of the United States government. While the names included on the list vary, they often include John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Thomas Paine and George Washington. The name can also refer to the members of the Constitutional Convention, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and/or the drafters of the Constitution.

There is a similar group known as the "Founding Mothers", women who, through their writings and actions, influenced the creation of the new government. This group includes Abigail Adams, Deborah Franklin, Dolley Madison, Eliza Pinckney, Martha Washington and Mercy Otis Warren, among others.

Biographies

From biography.com:

Read biographies of the founding fathers from the National Constitution Center here. This list includes short biographies of not just the major figures, but all of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

If you want to see the writings of some of the major Founders, visit the National Archives' Founders Online database. It contains over 183,000 papers and other documents by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John & Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, and James Madison.

Other Resources

Given their importance in American history, it's not surprising that hundreds of books have been written about the founders and their lives. Below is a list of just a few of these books.

Individual Biographies:

Ammon, Harry. James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity. 1990

Cheney, Lynne. James Madison: A Life Reconsidered. 2015

Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. 2005

Chernow, Ron. Washington: A Life. 2011

Ellis, Joseph. Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. 2001

Flexner, James T. George Washington: The Indispensable Man. 1994

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. 1996

Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. 2004

McCullough, David. John Adams. 2002

Meacham, Jon. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. 2012

Nelson, Craig. Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations. 2007

Stoll, Ira. Samuel Adams: A Life. 2009

Unger, Harlow Giles. Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation. 2011

Group Biographies:

Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. 2002

Ellis, Joseph. The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789. 2016

Kiernan, Denise. Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution. 2011

McCullough, David. 1776. 2006

Roberts, Cokie. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. 2005

Roberts, Cokie. Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation. 2009

Vile, John R. The Men Who Made the Constitution: Lives of the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention. 2013

Wood, Gordon S. Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different. 2007