Washington, Jefferson, Madsion.. History ?

The Forefathers of the US.






I’m responding to a column in our County newspaper. It’s Called ‘A Republican Perspective’. The guy is a nut.

The author seems to have the opinion of 'if you don’t like the ‘US’ go home. He’s bringing a lot of for God and country into it as well.

Quote from the article - “Everyone that came to America came because they wanted to be American; SO ACT LIKE AN AMERICAN.”

He thinks that any liberal is evil. And all liberals hate people that go to church.

Quote -

“You might not consider yourself one of ‘those’ but the Left sure does”.


I would like to cut this guy into nice little pieces.

And then dice him.

I’m quite pissed off at the moment.

They were conservative in the sense that they believed strongly in the Constitution that they created and a small, well-defined government.

They were liberal in the sense that they were trying radical and untested ideas to build a great nation.

They were libertarians in the sense that they believed government should be strictly limited in scope, freedoms were given by default, and economic power rested in the hands of individuals.

Republicans, democrats - invalid constructs for them. Their beliefs were founded in ideas, not political parties.

They tended not to be very religious at all especially for their day. Some people claim they were deists which is a form agnosticism.

It is rather difficult to apply 21st century definitions and attitudes to 18th century definitions and attitudes.

For the record:

George Washington - Federalist
Thomas Jefferson - Democratic-Republican
James Madison - Federalist

You can find a complete presidential list here.

Definitions of Federalist on the web.

Wikipedia definition for Federalist
It’s a hard call as to how the Founders would fit within the closed-minded spectrum of the columnist in your local paper. I’m sure other Dopers will follow to offer more detailed explanations of their own.

What is the question which has a snowball’s chance of getting a factual answer? You may consder asking the mods to move it to a different forum.

I don’t think you can get an answer that corresponds to what you want.

Jefferson would be very difficult to classify by today’s standards. He would have been a libertarian by today’s standards, yet he owned slaves.

Hamiton was considered to be quite conservative in his day and wanted a monarch for the U.S. Yet he owned no slaves.

Thanks for your responses.

Yes, this should go into IMHO.

No right answer.

If I have time, I will post the offending article. I will have to type it out. It’s not on line for this little newspaper. So no cut and paste.

I think by contemporary definitions, they were Liberals. Note that 18th Century Liberalism most resembles modern-day Libertarianism, except that it really doesn’t in terms of how adherents of the two schools approach the notion of Democracy (18th Century Liberals regarded it as an insult, Libertarians think it is a worthwhile goal).

It’s very difficult to give political definitions stable meanings against a radically changing social and cultural background. (Which, incidentally, makes mincemeat out of the arguments propounded by the article mentioned in the OP: You can’t say that the Founders created the American culture when it has changed radically in even the past five decades.)

Before anyone pounds on me, the Founders acted in ways not very consistent with the political beliefs often associated with them. Look up the Alien & Sedition Acts for a very striking example of this.


Off to IMHO at the request of the OP.


First, none of them were Democrats or Republicans. The modern Democratic Party originated in the 1840’s; the Republicans in the 1850’s - long after the founding fathers had passed on. The modern Libertarian Party was also established long afterwards.

Some of the founding fathers liked the Constitution; some didn’t. But both conservatives and liberals favor the Constitution now, so that’s a pointless debate.

I guess the most obvious political viewpoint that united the founding fathers is that they didn’t like the government that was running their country and worked to overthrow that government and form a new one. By that standard, the founding fathers are all far more radical than any politician of today.

That’ll be a surprise to everyone who is descended from slaves. And even if you limit yourself to voluntary immigrants, the fact is that an amazing number of people (around a third) who came to America eventually left and went back to their native country.

And the immigrants, like the founding fathers, were united in the belief that they didn’t like their current situation and decided to try something different. And as I noted, many of them did it twice.

So I guess acting like an American means when something isn’t working, you change it.

Please remember that posting the full text of copyrighted articles is a no-no on this board. Selectively quote or paraphrase the article.

As for the Founding Fathers, remember that they were as diverse a group as any set of multi-region, -class, -profession, -religion, and -education politicians are today.

They disagreed about everything. The Constitutional Convention was one long series of violent arguments, saved only by compromises that everybody hated.

Madison and Hamilton then wrote the Federalist Papers to convince people to adopt the Constitution in their states, but within a few years were mortal enemies who disagreed about every aspect of the government when put to practical effect.

The Federalists hated and slandered the Anti-Federalists, who did the same back to them.

Anybody who claims to cite “the Founding Fathers” as proof in an argument is either totally ignorant of actual history or is simply appealing to authority to lie to you. These days it’s most likely the former.

However, nothing in what you quoted of the article that upset you has any basis in what the Founding Fathers did or didn’t say, so it’s not clear why you want to know about them.

Madison was a Democratic-Republican.

Just like most of the politicians today. We haven’t come as far as we thought.

enipla: Did the column specifically reference the Founders, and if so can you cut and paste that portion of the column?

The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed by Congress in 1798. Twenty plus years later, were those still the “Founders”?

Not to mention the Native Americans who were acting like Americans long before the Europeans introduced rats and smallpox.

Pretty much. Washington had basically retired at this point (and died a year later). Benjamin Franklin was also dead by 1798. But for the most part, the original founding fathers were still active in politics. The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed during the administration of John Adams. Thomas Jefferson was Vice President, although he was Adams’ political opponent and opposed the acts (and 1798 was two years before Jefferson was himself elected President). Madison also spoke out against the acts. Hamilton was still around but was basically arguing with everyone by this point.

Most (not all) were deists, which was profoundly not a form of agnosticism, since Deism by definition posits the existence of a divine entity. It is a school of thought that more or less died out.

How do you com up with a date in the the 1840s? You might say it originated in the 1820’s (the supporters of Andrew Jackson), but not the 1840s.

Yep. Martin Van Buren is widely regarded as the father of the modern Democratic Party - he organized the Albany Regency and established many of the activities and techniques associated with party politics.

Hey, take it up with the site where I found it!