In 1973, Historian Richard B. Morris wrote the seminal work “Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries. The book details a series of biographical sketches of the most seven influential leaders of the American Revolution along with a detailed chronology of the events that led to their commitment to the American cause. Mr. Morris refers to the men passing the “triple tests” of leadership, longevity, and statesmanship.’
All of these men had indispensable roles in the formation of the United States of America. Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were members of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. The Federalist Papers, which advocated the ratification of the Constitution, were written by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. And last but not least, George Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, President of the Constitutional Convention, and our first President.
Franklin, Jay and Adams also negotiated the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which recognized American independence, bringing an end to the American Revolutionary War. Of the seven men, four went on to serve as President of the United States. Many of their written works are often quoted and repeated in legal decisions today. Their respective legacies have stood the test of time long after their deaths and still shape who we are as Americans.
In addition to their individual successes, these men shared a common bond of courage, along with their fellow representatives from the Thirteen Colonies, signing the Declaration of Independence. Knowing and recognizing their independence from the Crown this would be an act of treason punishable by imprisonment and death should the Revolutionary War have been lost. Anything worth fighting for takes the fortitude and commitment to follow through to the end. These men risked it all for the nascent idea of a free society civil society where citizens were free to create a new sense of community and assume the responsibility to labor together and solve their problems regardless of their diverse backgrounds.
In creating our constitutional republic, the Founding Fathers were not perfect nor pretended to be, they were neither gods nor angels, but rather complex, prejudiced, yet visionary men who dared to create this great experiment that we know today as the United States at the risk of losing their lives and all possessions. They also knew that they were in a race against time because the window of opportunity to launch such an endeavor rarely comes in history and quickly closes.
They were ordinary men who did extraordinary acts serving the people they represented. None thought they were better than the common man they set out to do the will of the people providing the foundation for each of us as individuals to build upon. In this partisan and politicized environment let’s hope we can find the right men and woman who possess the pre-requisite qualities of leadership, longevity, and statesmanship to move our country forward in the spirit of the “triple test.”