When I look back at my earlier list of greatest Founding Fathers I see a discrepancy which I believe I made. To be labeled the greatest Founding Father, I am referring to someone's participation in our structural design. He can't just be a Line Officer or leader. The formation of our government was already complete by the end of the Adams administration. Twelve years is long enough to establish the three branches of government.
Given after twelve years our government structure was complete. I do not feel John Marshall should get credit for being Chief Justice after the fact. George Washington was merely a leader, and did not play a major part in establishing the doctrine for our nation. I believe this list is more correct than the last one:
1. Roger Sherman-He is the only man to sign all the documents of government: Articles of Association, Confederation, The Declaration and The Constitution. He also helped structure the Northwest Ordinance that prohibited the advancement of slavery. Not only a signer, but very involved in the formation of these documents. Was largely responsible for the Bill of Rights; presented the Great Compromise of 1787 resulting in two houses of Congress; Ratified the Constitution, and was U.S. Senator.
2. George Washington-General of Continental Army; First President of United States, no doubt largely responsible for the Executive Department; President of the Constitutional Convention.
3. Alexander Hamilton-A great warrior, and perhaps the greatest administrator that ever lived. Our financial system is from his mind. Revolutionary Captain; head of the storming party at Yorktown; Secretary of the Treasury; principal author of the Federalist Papers; second in command of the Army 1798.
4. John Adams. Richard Stockton called him the "Atlas of Independence" was 2nd President of the United States; helped form the three branches of government; 1st Vice-President; signed the Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence; Minister to Great Britain, leader of the Revolution.
5. John Jay-He would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but was busy writing the Constitution of New York. He served as President of the Continental Congress 1778-79, which served as Chief Justice, President, and Secretary of State at once. He convinced Spain to give us $170,000 dollars for the revolution. Jay was one of the men who signed the Treaty of Paris on June 23, 1782. Was Secretary of State from 1784-1790; 1st Chief Justice 1789-1795, and Governor of New York.
6. James Wilson-First Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1789-1798; 2nd Choice for Chief Justice. One of only six men to sign both the Declaration and Constitution. 2nd most active participant at the Convention; wrote most of the 1790 Pennsylvania Constitution; first Professor of the Law of Nature in America.
7. Benjamin Franklin-Leader of the Revolution; secured vital aid from France, one of only six men to sign both the Declaration and Constitution, having a major role in the Declaration.
8. Samuel Adams-The "Father of the Revolution" The British pardoned only two men during the Revolution; Samuel Adams and John Hancock. His circular letter of 1768 led to the Boston Massacre of 1770. He organized the Boston Tea Party, signed the Declaration, helped draft the Articles of Confederation, and ratified the Constitution.
9. John Dickinson-The "Penman of the Revolution" What Samuel Adams did by action, Dickinson employed with the pen. He wrote the colonists' legal justification to break from Great Britain. Upon receiving news of his death, President Thomas Jefferson recognized him as being "among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain" whose "name will be consecrated in history as one of the great worthies of the revolution." He was the principal author of our first Constitution, that lasted from 1777 to 1790. He was the most famous man in the colonies, who would have wrote the Declaration of Independence had he not been for reconciliation. Dickinson was the Governor of two states.
10. Thomas McKean-Was the only man to be concurrent office holder in two states; Governor of two states; Chief Justice of Pennsylvania; Signed the Declaration; helped write the Articles of Confederation; helped author the Delaware Constitution; was acting President of the United States (1781), Proposed the voting procedure of one State, one vote, under the Articles of Confederation. There he largely set the rules of justice for revolutionary Pennsylvania. According to biographer John Coleman, "only the historiographical difficulty of reviewing court records and other scattered documents prevents recognition that McKean, rather than John Marshall, did more than anyone else to establish an independent judiciary in the United States. As chief justice under a Pennsylvania constitution he considered flawed, he assumed it the right of the court to strike down legislative acts it deemed unconstitutional, preceding by ten years the U.S. Supreme Court's establishment of the doctrine of judicial review."
Jefferson and Madison are not on the list because their Presidency's were after the formation of our government. TJ had nothing to do with the Constitution or Bill of Rights, and lamented his being a "Draughtsman" of the Declaration. Madison was a junior member of Congress that helped form the Constitution, and Bill of Rights. His title "Father of the Constitution" should go to Charles Pinckney, whose draft of the Constitution is very similar to the actual document.