Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis Essay
Founding Brothers Essay The founding fathers, or as the book calls them the founding brothers, are an assorted group of men from wildly different backgrounds. In political terms, they were divided. Yet, they came to together to help shape this country into the place it is today. Now on their journey towards the making of this country they did encounter some trouble. They encountered heated debates among themselves though for getting through these debates they show just why they deserve to be called, founding brothers. There were several issues in which the founding brothers found themselves on opposite sides of an issue.
In the case of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton had questioned Burr’s qualifications in Burr’s run for governor of New York. One situation lead to another issue in which the line between personal and political criticism was blurred which lead to Burr ultimately challenging Hamilton to a duel. In another case, Hamilton had been pushing for a Funding/Assumption policy to be used by the United States of America so that they could start paying off wartime debts and also avoid a financial ruin that could break the union.
Another thing that was proposed was the abolition of the slave trade, which was first brought to light by two quakers and eventually backed by Benjamin Franklin. Jay’s Treaty, which was another instance in which the founding brothers found themselves at odds with each other, was proposed as a peace treaty with the British and heavily favored the British. Finally, the Sedition Act allowed the persecution of Republican editors who opposed the government. In the duel between Burr and Hamilton, Burr finally had enough of what Hamilton was doing and sent him a duel request.
Duels were usually sent in the preservation of honor, as Burr’s honor had been tarnished by Hamilton in the papers. As the two men went to duel, Hamilton had no intention of actually shooting Burr but still let loose a round. Burr shot back, mortally wounding Hamilton. In the Funding/ Assumption policy that had been suggested by Hamilton some time before the duel, the Funding policy would have states that were farther along in paying off their wartime debts would have to help other states and government bonds would from then on have value.
The problem with that plan was that only Virginia was close to finishing off its debt. Also, many wartime bonds that had been issued to soldiers as a form of payment had been sold off by the soldiers to the wealthy. This would only make the wealthy wealthier, though some saw this as a good thing, seeing as though the wealthy could then spend the money and invest in the economy. This Funding bill was passed, but the Assumption bill was not. The Assumption bill, at its most basic, gave the central government control over a states’ economy. Most people did not like this plan.
In the Push for the Abolition of slavery and the slave trade, most Northern states, with the exception of New York and New Jersey were for this idea, seeing as though they did not have much use for slaves and the fact that not many were present there in the first place. Most Southern states were against it as they needed slave labor to work plantations and the slave population there was often very substantial when compared to the white population. Benjamin Franklin even put his support behind this at that the convincing of some abolitionists.
James Madison took the opposite side in a way. Madison did not like slavery, but he also did not want it abolished right away, as he saw its benefits. Later, Madison was able to convince congress to cease talks on this matter, and in later abolition cases, this particular case would be cited to quickly silence the matter. This would last until the Civil War. In the situation with Jay’s Treaty, George Washington had sought to create a peace treaty with Britain to prevent the outbreak of war again.
The treaty had been signed in Britain’s favor seeing as it allowed lower tariffs on Britain’s side, most favored trade country status in the US, the British could impress US sailors into joining them, and the US had to pay off all of their pre-war debts to the British. Madison saw this as being treasonous and tried to have it repealed, but he was facing George Washington, who was the most respected person in the US at the time. Finally in the Sedition Act which was signed in by President John Adams, it was aimed at silencing editors who openly talked bad about the government.
It was greatly opposed by most Republicans and greatly supported by Federalists. Later, as it was put into motion it actually backfired, with many immigrants and former Federalists defecting to the Republicans. All these things were issues that were debated by the founding brothers, but their voices are what also made them significant. These men, Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison, were important contributors to development of our country in many ways.
Hamilton had tried to push policies, funding and assumption, in order to fix America’s debt problem with foreign and domestic debt and restoring America’s credit with European bankers. His policy for funding was passed, which also gave bonds that were given to soldiers but were now in rich peoples’ hands, credit. Burr was known as the father of modern political campaigning, as he helped drum up support for Jefferson during their run for the presidency. Jefferson had authored the Declaration of Independence and was also a good friend of John Adams.
So good a friend, in fact, that when they were running for president, Jefferson let Adams have the presidency. Later when Jefferson himself became president, he made the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the country. Franklin was present at the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, drafted a wartime treaty with France during the Revolutionary War, and almost by himself concluded peace with Britain. Franklin, with his many achievements, was highly regarded in American society and regarded only second to George Washington.
George Washington is referred to as the supreme founding father, as he had lead the Continental Army against the British and won. He was also the presiding officer at the Constitutional Convention and was also the United States’ first chief executive. He also retired before he was pressured into a third term as president, as he knew that he would die in office. If he had died in office, it would be similar to how a monarch transfers power over to their heirs/successors. John Adams was the vice president during the time of Washington.
It was said that the American Revolution was his life, and he in turn gave his life to the American Revolution. In the Continental Congress he became known as the Atlus of Independence as he renounced any reconciliation with Britain. Later, he wrote “Thoughts on the Government”, which became a guidebook for several state institutions. He would also lobby for Washington to lead the Continental Army and for Jefferson to draft the constitution. He also served for a year as the chairman of the board of War and Ordinance. He joined Franklin for a short time in France to discuss an alliance with the French.
He then returned to write the Massachusetts Constitution almost by himself, then went back to France to discuss a peace treaty. He also cast more tie breaking votes in the senate than any other vice-president in history. Madison had a reputation as a preeminent nationalist and was known as one of the shrewdest, most political inclined veteran of the constitutional battles of 1780. He also may have had the most creative contributions to American political science in all of history. Also, he helped push the movement for the Constitutional Convention.
Because of this, he is called the father of the constitution. He also drafted the Bill of Rights through the first congress, and after George Washington and Ben Franklin, he is considered one of the foremost most influential political leaders in the country. These men were called the founding brothers because of their important contributions to the development of this country, settling many matters that may plague a new country like the United States of America. In the many political debates among these men, even though they had differing political views, they laid the foundations for this country.