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The Founding Fathers on Happiness, Success, and Liberty

While countless people contributed to the formation of the United States of America in the 1770s, seven men in particular are considered the nation’s Founding Fathers: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and James Monroe. With ambition, vision, and determination, this group of minds created a representative democracy to withstand centuries.

No figure looms so large in American history as George Washington, who led the rebel forces to victory against Great Britain and became the new nation’s very first President. He was succeeded by John Adams, who wrote extensively against the tyranny of British rule and was the first to propose that each colony (and later, state) should maintain its own independent government. Thomas Jefferson, President number three, famously wrote the Declaration of Independence, while Benjamin Franklin, in addition to being an unparalleled inventor, helped draft the U.S. Constitution.

The no-longer-overlooked Alexander Hamilton served as the country’s first Treasury Secretary, establishing a financial plan for the fledgling government. James Madison, the fourth President, became known as the “Father of the Constitution” after penning the Bill of Rights, and James Monroe served as the nation’s fifth President after declaring that European colonization would no longer be allowed in the Americas.

Here, we've collected some of our favorite quotes from these founders, whose words continue to guide and inspire generations of Americans.

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.
― George Washington

Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person's own mind than on the externals in the world.
— George Washington

If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.
— Thomas Jefferson

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.
— Thomas Jefferson

If conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value.
— John Adams

He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows or judge all he sees.
— Benjamin Franklin

Well done is better than well said.
— Benjamin Franklin

People sometimes attribute my success to my genius; all the genius I know anything about is hard work.
— Alexander Hamilton

Let us by wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.
— James Monroe

The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
— James Madison

Photo credit: IanDagnall Computing/ Alamy Stock Photo

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About the Author
April Dávila
April Dávila is a lover of words. Her debut novel "142 Ostriches" was released in 2020.
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