Wife of John Adams, the second President of the United States. Abigail Smith Adams was the mother of six children, including John Quincy, who would become the sixth President. Abigail was her husband’s foremost adviser, especially during his presidency. Their long history of correspondence illustrates the great love and devotion they held for each other.
The second President and first Vice President of the United States, Adams was one of the foremost figures of the Revolution. He was married to Abigail Adams, was the father of John Quincy (sixth President of the United States), and the cousin of Samuel Adams. He was known for a relative lack of social grace, and a fiery, passionate temper he could not always control.
From the time of the Stamp Act onwards, Adams was a leading figure in America's independence. He served in the Continental Congress, served overseas as a diplomat, and was George Washington's Vice President. As President, a position he earned after defeating Thomas Jefferson in 1797, Adams kept the country out of war with France, though he appeared weak and ineffectual because of Jefferson's propaganda machine. Adams died on July 4, 1826.
John Quincy Adams
Sixth President of the United States, John Quincy was the son of John and Abigail Adams. He served overseas as diplomat for both George Washington and his father. Adams was elected to the Presidency in 1825.
Vice President of the United States from 1801-1805, and a descendant of Jonathan Edwards, the noted theologian. Burr’s political career, although vast, was often marked by hypocrisy. Burr held a variety of positions during and after the Revolution, finally running for President against Jefferson in 1800. After Jefferson was awarded victory by the House of Representatives following an electoral tie, Burr was chosen Vice President. His tenure was uneventful until he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr’s career never recovered and he fled to the West.
Callender was a scandalous journalist who exposed Alexander Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds, smeared John Adams at Thomas Jefferson's behest, and then revealed news of Jefferson's affair with his slave Sally Hemings when Jefferson denied his association with the journalist.
One of the most influential of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin rivals George Washington in the American pantheon. Franklin had supported colonial unity long before the war, and was present at most important Revolutionary events, save battles. In this book, he features mostly through his insistence that the House of Representatives consider and debate the slavery question. Franklin died on April 17, 1790 at the age of 84 in his beloved Philadelphia.
Benjamin Franklin Bache
Grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Bache was a journalist and publisher in Pennsylvania. He founded the Philadelphia Aurora, which published frequent attacks on the Federalist party, especially against George Washington and John Adams. He was later imprisoned under the Alien and Sedition Act, which he rightfully claimed was a violation of the First Amendment. He died before his trial from yellow fever at the age of twenty-nine.
A Massachusetts congressman, and participant in the slavery debate of 1790. He suggested a plan for compensating slave owners for loss of their slaves after emancipation. John Adams later sent Gerry to France as a peace delegate.
Born in the West Indies as the illegitimate child of a Scottish merchant, Alexander Hamilton worked to build a strong reputation in early America. He became a protégé of George Washington during the war, and was one of the leading figures in developing the Constitution. As an author of the Federalist Papers, he showed his desire for a strong central government, which he applied to his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury under Washington. In that position, he established the first national bank, and alleviated wartime debt through unpopular federal programming. He later became the leader of the Federalist party, and his reputation declined along with the party's. He was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel in 1804.
Alexander Hamilton’s loyal physician, Hosack attended Hamilton's wounds after Aaron Burr mortally wounded him in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey.
A Congressman from Georgia who spoke out against the anti-slave petitions of 1790, Jackson used Bible quotations to support his theory that God approved of slavery, and was either mocked or venerated for his extreme stance.
An influential Founding Father, and President of the Continental Congress from 1778-1779. Jay was also the First Chief Justice of the United States, appointed by George Washington. He was wildly reviled for having, at Washington's behest, brokered Jay's Treaty with England, which kept the nascent U.S. out of war, but was viewed by the public as a sign of weakness.
The third President of the United States, and the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was venerated even in his own time as one of the most central of Revolutionary leaders. After returning from France after the Constitution was ratified, Jefferson served as Washington's Secretary of State, but was slowly establishing the Republican Party. After losing to Adams for the Presidency in 1796, Jefferson used the party infrastructure to launch a propaganda campaign against Adams and the Federalists, accusing them of solidifying central power at the expense of states and individuals. This was a huge betrayal of the friendship he had forged with Adams during the War.
After serving two terms as President, Jefferson and Adams resumed their friendship through a series of correspondences that have provided great insight into the period and personalities of the nascent U.S. government. Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the same day as Adams.
Considered the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison was the fourth President of the United States. One of the most skilled politicians of his age, Madison was a prominent leader amongst the Virginian elite. He helped draft the U.S. Constitution, was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, and he authored the Bill of Rights. In 1791, he and Thomas Jefferson created the Democratic-Republican Party in opposition to the Federalist Party. Madison became the fifth Secretary of State in 1809, during Jefferson’s second term as President. He succeeded Jefferson to the Presidency in 1809.
The fifth President of the United States, and the last of the Founding Fathers to hold the office. He worked closely under Jefferson with the Republican Party. Monroe held several prominent positions throughout his political career, including: Governor of Virginia; Senator; and U.S. Minister to France and the United Kingdom. Monroe was Secretary of State and Secretary of War under James Madison, whom he succeeded to the Presidency.
An influential patriot, and author of the pamphlet Common Sense, which helped inspire the colonial desire for independence from Britain.
An associate of Alexander Hamilton, Pendleton served as Hamilton’s second during the fatal duel with Aaron Burr.
One of the lesser known of the Founding Fathers, Rush is best known for his correspondence and life-long friendship with John Adams, and for the part he played in Adams’s and Jefferson’s reconciliation.
The Pennsylvanian Congressman who spoke in support of the 1790 Quaker petition to end the African slave trade. Scott suggested Congress look to the Declaration of Independence instead of the Constitution for guidance on the matter.
William Van Ness
An associate of Aaron Burr, Van Ness served as his second during the duel with Alexander Hamilton.
The first President of the United States, Washington is considered the “father of the country.” He served as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and as the first President of the Continental Congress. His immense popularity easily ensured him the presidency, which he kept for two terms. Though his prestige and innate aloofness garnered some criticism from the press, he remained the most powerful figure in American life until his death. He was not affiliated with a political party, although he tended to favor the Federalists, to the horror of his fellow Virginians. Washington’s Presidency was capstoned by: his foreign policy, which favored neutrality; his establishment of a cabinet to assist him in his duties; and his famed Farewell Address. Washington also set the precedent for the two-term presidency by voluntary leaving office. After his retirement from office, Washington returned to Mount Vernon, where he died on December 14, 1799.
One of Jefferson's associates, whose visit to Quincy in 1811 served as a catalyst for the renewed correspondance between Adams and Jefferson.
Founding Brothers Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Founding Brothers is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Ellis reminds the reader that though Americans take the fact of their independence for granted, their forefathers were not so certain of revolutionary success. Had certain circumstances favored the British in the war, these forefathers might as...
The “miracle at Philadelphia” produced the United States Constitution, which eventually became the highest law of the nation, and a criterion for all future independent nations. Because they so ably navigated the thorny questions and controversies...