The Founding Fathers of the United States are the individuals of the Thirteen British Colonies in North America who led the American Revolution against the authority of the British Crown and established the United States of America. The term is also used more narrowly, referring specifically to those who either signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 or who were delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and took part in drafting the proposed Constitution of the United States. A further subset includes those who signed the Continental Association or the Articles of Confederation.[2] During much of the 19th century, they were referred to as either the “Founders” or the “Fathers”.

Some historians apply the term “Founding Fathers” to a larger group of people, including not only the Signers and the Framers but also all those who, whether as politicians, jurists, statesmen, soldiers, diplomats, or ordinary citizens, took part in winning American independence and creating the United States of America.[3] Historian Richard B. Morris in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.[4] Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin worked on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were authors of the The Federalist Papers, advocating ratification of the Constitution. Washington commanded the revolutionary army. All served in important positions in the early government of the United States.