Humanities › History & Culture America's Most Influential Founding Fathers Share Flipboard Email Print The Road to American Independence Introduction A ‘New World’ Discovered The First New World Voyage of Christopher Columbus La Navidad: First European Settlement in the Americas The Second Voyage of Christopher Columbus Exploration After Columbus The Man Who Named America The American Indian Slave Trade Check Your Knowledge: A 'New World' Discovered Early Settlement of America The Virginia Colony Essential Facts About Jamestown The Mayflower Compact The Plymouth Colony Check Your Knowledge: Early Settlement The Original 13 British Colonies The Early American Colonial Regions Characteristics of New England Colonies Governments of the Original Thirteen Colonies The Original 13 US States Quick Chart of the Thirteen Original Colonies Check Your Knowledge: Original 13 Colonies Dissent Turns to Revolution The Root Causes of the American Revolution The Albany Plan of Union The Boston Massacre Currency Act of 1764 The Stamp Act of 1765 Who Were the Sons of Liberty? The Boston Tea Party The Intolerable Acts Check Your Knowledge: Dissent Turns to Revolution The American Revolution Begins The Battles of Lexington and Concord The Siege of Boston Battle of Yorktown The Treaty of Paris 1783 America's Top Founding Fathers The Declaration of Independence Check Your Knowledge: American Revolution Begins By Martin Kelly History Expert M.A., History, University of Florida B.A., History, University of Florida Martin Kelly, M.A., is a history teacher and curriculum developer. He is the author of "The Everything American Presidents Book" and "Colonial Life: Government." our editorial process Martin Kelly Updated May 23, 2019 The Founding Fathers were those political leaders of the 13 British Colonies in North America who played major roles in the American Revolution against the Kingdom of Great Britain and the founding of the new nation after independence was won. There were many more than ten founders that had a huge impact on the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. However, this list attempts to pick the founding fathers having the most significant impact. Notable individuals not included are John Hancock, John Marshall, Peyton Randolph, and John Jay. The term “Founding Fathers” is often used to refer to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It should not be confused with the term “Framers.” According to the National Archives, the Framers were the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention who drafted the proposed Constitution of the United States. After the Revolution, the Founding Fathers went on to hold important positions in the early United States federal government. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison served as President of the United States. John Jay was appointed the nation's first Chief Justice. Updated by Robert Longley 01 of 10 George Washington - Founding Father Hulton Archive/Getty Images George Washington was a member of the First Continental Congress. He was then chosen to lead the Continental Army. He was the president of the Constitutional Convention and of course became the first president of the United States. In all these leadership positions, he showed a steadfastness of purpose and helped create the precedents and foundations that would form America. 02 of 10 John Adams Courtesy of Independence National Historical Park John Adams was an important figure in both the First and Second Continental Congresses. He was on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and was central to its adoption. Because of his foresight, George Washington was named Commander of the Continental Army at the Second Continental Congress. He was chosen to help negotiate the Treaty of Paris that officially ended the American Revolution. He later became the first vice president and then the second president of the United States. 03 of 10 Thomas Jefferson Courtesy of Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson, as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, was chosen to be part of a Committee of Five that would draft the Declaration of Independence. He was unanimously picked to write the Declaration. He was then sent to France as a diplomat after the Revolution and then returned to become first the vice president under John Adams and then the third president. 04 of 10 James Madison Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-13004 James Madison was known as the Father of the Constitution, for he was responsible for writing much of it. Further, with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, he was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers that helped persuade the states to accept the new Constitution. He was responsible for drafting the Bill of Rights that were added to the Constitution in 1791. He helped organize the new government and later became the fourth president of the United States. 05 of 10 Benjamin Franklin Courtesy of National Archives Benjamin Franklin was considered the elder statesman by the time of the Revolution and later Constitutional Convention. He was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. He was part of the Committee of Five that was to draft the Declaration of Independence and made corrections that Jefferson included in his final draft. Franklin was central to getting French aid during the American Revolution. He also helped with negotiating the Treaty of Paris that ended the war. 06 of 10 Samuel Adams Courtesy Library of Congress Prints & Photographs: LC-USZ62-102271 Samuel Adams was a true revolutionary. He was one of the founders of the Sons of Liberty. His leadership helped organize the Boston Tea Party. He was a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congresses and fought for the Declaration of Independence. He also helped draft the Articles of Confederation. He helped write the Massachusetts Constitution and became its governor. 07 of 10 Thomas Paine Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Thomas Paine was the author of a very important pamphlet called Common Sense that was published in 1776. He wrote a compelling argument for independence from Great Britain. His pamphlet convinced many colonists and founding fathers of the wisdom of open rebellion against the British if necessary. Further, he published another pamphlet called The Crisis during the Revolutionary War that helped spur on the soldiers to fight. 08 of 10 Patrick Henry Courtesy of Library of Congress Patrick Henry was a radical revolutionary who was unafraid to speak up against Great Britain at an early date. He is most famous for his speech which includes the line, "Give me liberty or give me death." He was a governor of Virginia during the Revolution. He also helped fight for the addition of the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution, a document with which he disagreed because of its strong federal powers. 09 of 10 Alexander Hamilton Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-48272 Hamilton fought in the Revolutionary War. However, his true importance came about after the war when he was a huge proponent for the US Constitution. He, along with John Jay and James Madison, wrote the Federalist Papers in an effort to secure support for the document. Once Washington was elected as the first president, Hamilton was made the first Secretary of the Treasury. His plan for getting the new country on its feet economically was instrumental in forming a sound financial basis for the new republic. 10 of 10 Gouverneur Morris Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-48272 Gouverneur Morris was an accomplished statesman that ushered in the idea of a person being a citizen of the union, not the individual states. He was part of the Second Continental Congress and as such helped provide legislative leadership to back up George Washington in his fight against the British. He signed the Articles of Confederation. He is credited with writing parts of the Constitution including possibly its preamble.