Skip to comments.The surprising ages of the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776
Posted on 07/06/2014 8:35:05 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
For the Journal of the American Revolution, Todd Andrlik compiled a list of the ages of the key participants in the Revolutionary War as of July 4, 1776. Many of them were surprisingly young:
Marquis de Lafayette, 18
James Monroe, 18
Gilbert Stuart, 20
Aaron Burr, 20
Alexander Hamilton, 21
Betsy Ross, 24
James Madison, 25
This is kind of blowing my mind...because of the compression of history, I'd always assumed all these people were around the same age. But in thinking about it, all startups need young people...Hamilton, Lafayette, and Burr were perhaps the Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg of the War. Some more ages, just for reference:
Thomas Jefferson, 33
John Adams, 40
Paul Revere, 41
George Washington, 44
Samuel Adams, 53
The oldest prominent participant in the Revolution, by a wide margin, was Benjamin Franklin, who was 70 years old on July 4, 1776. Franklin was a full two generations removed from the likes of Madison and Hamilton. But the oldest participant in the war was Samuel Whittemore, who fought in an early skirmish at the age of 80. I'll let Wikipedia take it from here:
Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and killed a grenadier and mortally wounded a second. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked. He was shot in the face, bayoneted thirteen times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found alive, trying to load his musket to fight again. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 98.
I had no idea! Why did I think they were all over 45? They were young upstarts. :) Brave, young upstarts.
We need more Samuel Whittemores.....
However I can guarantee that “Hamilton, Lafayette, and Burr were perhaps the Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg of the War” was not written by any right winger. Or even someone center right.
There won’t be Samuel Whittemores until we need Samuel Whittmores. That’s how this works.
Agreed, unless he/she was trying to describe them to millennials.
They were quite highly educated for such young ages.
I second that pre conception!
the drawings and paintings wee see of these men portray them as being middle aged...so I Assumed....they were when their significant achievement was presented
Bump for the kids to read
Some of the Patriots listed were too young to be delegates to Congress in 1776 (the two youngest, both from South Carolina, were 26).
My grandfather's grandfather was 3 years old when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Not only did he do nothing to aid the Revolution, he never even left Europe.
Jefferson would have been too young to be President when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Wow.
Nathaniel Green was an amazing story. A brilliantly self-educated man (as many of them were) who taught himself math, metallurgy, law, and most impressively, war.
He was only 33 years old in 1775.
Despite what you may have heard, he didn’t write it by himself.
No, We need more James Madison's!!!!!
So what? Does that take away the point of my post? Does that change his age in any way?
Thanks for this post, 2nd Div. It takes some of us a while to catch on. I did not know of Whittemore. Should have, being a keen observer of US History and all. But now I’ve got him in my top 5 All-American Badasses along with the likes of Audie Murphy, Sgt York, Ernest Evans and Arthur MacArthur.
Whitmore is frickin’ AWESOME!!
God bless him! Like another poster said-—we need men like him today!
Never again will I ever think I’m “too old” to take on the likes of the scum that are tearing our country down today.
Sorry, so excited, I misspelled Whittemore.
Because young people their age today act like morons.
The desire for freedom knows no age. Hamilton was a federalist through and through and should the stupidity of youth
Why did I think they were all over 45?
We need to spread the truth. Shine a light so the cockroaches run back into the darkness.
Same thing for Jesus and the Apostles.
Jesus was 30 when he began His mission. Most of the Apostles were under 30. I think Peter was a little older, but not much.
Mary was 15 when she was visited by the angel Gabriel.
This shows how accomplished people can be without television.
Despite what you may have heard, yes, he did. The only real changes were things removed, like his "vehement Phillipic against negro slavery." There was only one significant addition, which was Lee's resolution: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration. Period.
today, people are still considered ‘children’ until they are 26
I’ll tell that to Ben and John.
Take a lickin and keep on tickin....
Go ahead and tell them. They didn’t make anything but very slight corrections, and they did not change the language. Please feel free to cite just ONE reputable historian who supports your contention.
I’m not arguing, I’m just going by my recollections from various and sundry history texts and other books I’ve read since I was 5 years old.
While Madison was a key player on the committee drafting The Constitution, he was most influential in the drafting and revision, getting to the final document.
More importantly, he alone drafted The Bill of Rights, ensuring each man was treated equally under the law and ensuring the injuries suffered under the King, the Parliament and henchmen could never have any imprimatur and excuse for abuse of God given rights.
I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning Negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose. There were other expressions which I would not have inserted if I had drawn it up, particularly that which called the King tyrant. I thought this too personal, for I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature; I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his official capacity, only, cruel. I thought the expression too passionate, and too much like scolding, for so grave and solemn a document; but as Franklin and Sherman were to inspect it afterwards, I thought it would not become me to strike it out. I consented to report it, and do not now remember that I made or suggested a single alteration.
We reported it to the committee of five. It was read, and I do not remember that Franklin or Sherman criticized anything. We were all in haste. Congress was impatient, and the instrument was reported, as I believe, in Jefferson's handwriting, as he first drew it.
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
Although we know Thomas Jefferson as the true author, the Second Continental Congress initially appointed five people to draw up a declaration. The committee included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was then given the task of writing a draft for the Declaration of Independence, which from June 11 to June 28 he worked on. Before he presented the Declaration to the Continental Congress, he showed it to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin; they made revisions. He presented the draft to Congress on July 1, 1776 and more revisions were made. On the fourth of July the delegates met in what we know today as Independence Hall, but back then was known as the Pennsylvania State House, and approved the Declaration. John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress signed the declaration along with Charles Thomson and it was sent to John Dunlaps print shop for printing.
Jefferson's draft as it appeared when it was reported out of committee still exists. The committee did not revise the document, just as Adams reported.
The Congress did NOT revise the document except exactly as I have told you. They removed parts, and they added nothing except Lee's Resolution.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence ENTIRELY ON HIS OWN. The Congress removed some parts, largely for political reasons. An editor is not an author.
You have been corrected, by one of the original committee members in his own words, and if you still think some hack grade-school book you read when you were a kid knows more than John Adams -- who claimed he added nothing and took nothing out, nor did Franklin nor Sherman -- or you think your hack historian knows more about it than Thomas Jefferson who claimed authorship -- and whose claims to authorship have never been challenged by any serious historian, you may remain in your ignorance.
It’s not that they were so young, but rather that 20 year olds used to be grown ups.
I’ve always assumed they much older.
Actually, that was pretty rare for colonists.
As for the view that they were old, I think that is mainly the fault of portraits. Not because they were inaccurate, but many times they were painted much later in life. Henry Knox looks very old in his most known pix, but he was only about 25 when it ll started.
Worse, it seems even our media have perpetuated what the portraits started. Movies and shows, and even documentaries, often use oldsters to represent these people. Washington is the worst offended, perpetually shown as old and white haired. But he was only about 51 when the war officially ended! He was only 69 when he died.
That was going to be my reply. “Young” is relative. Then they had been working on farms, in the family trade since very young. They were not “young” as we think of it today.
If you are looking for a description of a badass, this is it.
He didn’t wear wigs generally.
At best he powdered his hair, but certainly not much in war.
Migrane - please tell why you have Arthur MacArthur. I take it you mean the father and not the brother of Doug?
Amazing men, amazing times.
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