Monday, February 18, 2008

The Last Founding Father

For centuries, Americans have paid homage to our Founding Fathers for their bravery and steadfastness in creating the American Republic. Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and others are etched in stone, grace our currency, and even have states and cities named after them. These early Americans established the foundation that vitually every American would later build upon.

Though the early Founding Fathers are vitually unanimously accepted as the generation that paved the way for subsequent Americans, one has to wonder when their legacy ends. In other words, who should we consider to be the last Founding Father.

This question has been debated for decades by historians, politicians and the laycommunity alike, and I would like to pose this question to all of you. Who in your opinion is America's LAST Founding Father? Here are a few of the popular choices:

Andrew Jackson: Jackson is often seen as the concluding Founding Father for his ability to appeal to the common American. Jackson's presidency actually extends into the presidencies of others, hence the term JACKSONIAN America.

Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln, though separated by roughly 100 years from the original Founding Fathers, can be seen as the final Founding Father for his role in the Civil War. Lincoln's contributions to the eradication of slavery can be seen as the final chapter of the American Revolution. After all, it was Lincoln that accomplished what the Founders were unable or unwilling to do.

Martin Luther King: Obviously King is separated by two centuries of history from the Founding Fathers. King, however, is credited with binging about some revolutionary changes to the social and political nature of the United States. In fact, most of the Founding Fathers would find King to be even more revolutionary than they were.

Anyway, these are just three of the possibilities. I want to hear your take. Who was America's last Founding Father?


Steve Becknall said...

Ok, now I have to answer my own question. I am going to say that the last Founding Father was Andrew Jackson. My reason for picking Jacskson is because he is one of the last American figures that helped to "found" the basic principles of this nation. Lincoln did a tremendous amount to secure the union and end slavery, but he did not "found" anything. Jacksonian Democracy was a movement that carried the idea of sovereignty to the people to every American. It was Jackson that gave life to many of the ideals of the Founding Fathers. He was the "muscle" of revolutionary change in the early part of the 19th century. Without Jackson, a great deal of the change that America enjoyed might never have occurred.

Brian Tubbs said...

In terms of the founding of the United States overall, I'd agree with you, Steve. I think Jackson is the guy.

In the area of civil rights, I think a good case could be made for Martin Luther King, Jr. - who, I think, led the completion of the Founders' work in that area.

Brian Tubbs said...

Rethinking Jackson....

The argument AGAINST Andrew Jackson as the "last Founding Father" is that he was not associated with the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States.

He was extremely influential in shaping the modern presidency, which is the argument IN his favor.

Tough call.

Lindsey Shuman said...

Come on guys! The choice here is Lincoln! He wrote the final chapter in the revolutionary legacy with his involvement in the Civil War and for his contributions to the abolition of slavery.

Brian Tubbs said...

Lincoln didn't see himself as a Founding Father, but rather as someone who was working to bring the Founders' work to completion.

With due respect to Garry Wills, I don't see Lincoln's legacy as being someone who consciously redefined America's founding, but rather as one who CONFIRMED America's founding.

Steve Becknall said...

Interesting take. I never thought of Lincoln as CONFIRMING the America's founding. I like makes more sense.

I also think that by making such a statement, Lindsey's argument for Lincoln as the last Founding Father gains credence.

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