The Band of Founding Brothers
On July 4th, 1776, The “Band of Brothers of ‘76’” (Ellis, 235) ventured into uncharted territory when they signed the Declaration of Independence. These men who would soon become known as our Founding Fathers led the fledgling United States to victory in the American Revolution, nearly drove the country into bankruptcy under the Articles of the Confederation, and then saved the country by writing a deeply flawed yet fundamentally enlightened Constitution that has served as the cornerstone of American democracy for the past two hundred years. America’s founding document, the Constitution, reflects not only the vision and ideals of America’s Founding Fathers in creating a nation and a government, it shows their motives for doing so as well. The Founding Brothers were exploring a new frontier when it came to government. They had no history to draw upon, and no precedent to follow in building a Constitutional Democracy. As Ellis demonstrated numerous times in Founding Brothers, the policy and principles that the founding brothers employed in both the constitution and the running of the country in its fledgling years was not perfect nor even remotely logical in some instances. However, Ellis also showed that this imperfect and sometimes illogical policy always was intended to be for the good of the people, even if it did not make good on its intentions. The “Band of Brothers of 76” were not the scheming elites with the sole aim of preserving their own status and power that many historians tried to make them out to be; they were well intentioned policy makers who supported the American people and their policies wholeheartedly who were exploring a new frontier in government.
The Founding Fathers demonstrated their emotional investment in the success of their fledgling nation and of the American people in their long standing and extremely emotional debates over the policy that they were putting into effect. This high level of emotional investment was shown during the Constitutional Convention, which lasted from May to September. This level of emotion and dedication to the people was not simply an investment by the Founding Brothers in preserving their own power, it was a demonstration of their commitment to furthering the good of the people. The Declaration of Independence reads, “We the people”, the same declaration that was signed by the “Band of Brothers of 76” and was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, a man that historians attempt to paint as a self centered aristocrat. In signing the Declaration, the Founding Fathers classified themselves as people of, not leaders of the United States. Alexander Hamilton, a man whose policies were fundamentally based in a belief that the people could not be trusted to govern themselves, still invested himself fully in crafting policies that would better the nation as a whole. Although his policies of propping up the elite to govern the poor were ideologically flawed, his intentions were not. Hamilton, like the other Founding Fathers, was exploring uncharted territory in government, and while his policies and ideals can be questioned like any politician, his commitment to bettering the lives of the people cannot. Hamilton, a northern Federalist, was willing to compromise with Thomas Jefferson, a southern Republican at the infamous dinner that Jefferson and Hamilton along with other Founding Fathers attended. Hamilton’s purpose at the dinner was to get his economic plan passed at any cost. This scheme’s whole purpose was to, “Move past such ambiguous entanglements, to establish the kind of clear and discernible reimbursement policy that inspired trust, and to concentrate the debt in those hands most likely to use it in the interests of the community’s productivity and growth” (Ellis, 62). Hamilton was willing to move the capital of the nation from his Federalist controlled north to the Republican controlled south to implement his economic policy, a policy purposed to be inspire, “the community’s production and growth”. This was a move by Hamilton that sacrificed personal principles and ideals for a policy that he believed was for the good of the people. That is not self centered politics, that is politics for the good of the people.
The Founding Brothers were not only emotionally invested in their policies, but they truly believed in them and their benefit to the people. Alexander Hamilton gave his life for the policies and ideals that he believed in. His duel with Aaron Burr was not done out of self centered motives as he knew that he would most likely lose. Ellis explains that Hamilton showed suicidal tendencies and a knowledge of his impending doom before the duel, but he never called it off (Ellis). This shows not only a level of investment in his policies and his principles which he felt were for the good of the nation as a whole but his belief in them. Hamilton knew that he could not possibly be branded a coward and continue to implement his policies, so he put his life on the line, and subsequently lost it for the policies that he believed in. The correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams is another example of the Founding Fathers’ belief in their policies. As Ellis shows in chapter six, The Friendship, Adams and Jefferson continued to debate about their policies and their political principles long after their political careers had ended (Ellis). This shows the belief that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had in their respective principles and policy. The two Founding Fathers debated their principles of American Government until the day that both of them died on July 4th, 1826, and they believed in those policies until death. They believed in the good of the people until death.