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Above artwork by Jaylee Davis, VOX Teen Staff

[Opinion] The Problem With Our Founding Fathers — And Why Our Government Must Change

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I’ve always disliked the founding fathers. These men created a government in which only straight white men could be free, and it infuriates me. The founding fathers were a group of wealthy white men that did significant work to help set up the United States government. The eight men were George Washington,  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.

Smart, Rich and White

These eight men were undeniably smart. They successfully created a government that ensured rich, white men such as themselves would stay in power for centuries to come.

One of the most prominent ways the men did this was by creating the Electoral College.  The Electoral college is a group of people (the members of the House of Representatives and the state Senators) that cast their votes based on the winner of the presidential election in their state. The winner of the presidential election is chosen based on the vote from the electoral college and not the popular vote. The winner almost always wins the popular vote. However, occasionally electors will vote for someone other than the candidate who won the popular vote in their state. Basically, the electoral college was created to ensure that only people of power had influence in the outcome of the presidential election. 

Another less known way the founding fathers gave rich white men power was by creating the Important Rules Committee. This committee (all of the members chosen by government officials) decides which bills will be brought to the House of Representatives. It also determines whether amendments (a small change or addition to a document) will be allowed on a bill. This ensures that the House of Representatives, which more directly represents the people than the Senate, has less power.

Half Were Slave Owners

Despite many of the founding fathers claiming slavery to be morally wrong, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison all owned slaves. That’s half of the founding fathers. Four may not seem like a lot but for such an inhumane act, even one is horrifying. 

Thomas Jefferson owned over 600 slaves, more than any president in US history. Jefferson had at least six children with a slave named Sally Hemings. Luckily, the Monticello tourist attraction has now addressed this. Sally Hemings is now included in the official Monticello narrative, though Jefferson denied this relentlessly.

All Men Created Equal?

Though he had such an intimate relationship with this woman, there were never any images of her. There are only four known records of her appearance, further dehumanizing her. He also owned a nailery that employed young slave boys to count and hammer nails. Boys as young as 10 worked hard just to receive no pay and barely any food. These young children were whipped to get them to work harder. There are even accounts of bashed-in skulls being found in Jefferson’s basement nailery. These remains were found to be those of a young boy who was accused of stealing a bundle of raw nail rod.

These are all reasons why I dislike the founding fathers. Though Jefferson claimed all men were equal, he owned slaves and helped others create a government that left out rights for many individuals. These men successfully created the United States Government to be accepting of only straight white men, and this is something we must change.

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comments (4)

  1. Mary Anne Adams

    Great history lesson Alex, thank you! I also share your outrage at the white supremacy, racism, misogyny, and rank hypocrisy of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.

  2. EDITH BIGGERS

    Thank you Alex. Well done!!

  3. Matthew Somoroff

    “Basically, the electoral college was created to ensure that only people of power had influence in the outcome of the presidential election.” YES. Great article, Alex!

  4. Ms Qunhua

    Great piece Alex! I learned a lot. It may have been more than luck that is the reason why Sally Hemings is included in the official Monticello narrative.