People at Wal-Mart
It's hard to believe that's what the founding fathers were
Rebecca Raines, our very lovely public relations officer of the Libertarians of UGA club, made a fascinating observation that I love to sit back and think about from time to time. As you know, libertarians revere and admire the founders of our country more than followers of other political philosophies because we understand (and, obviously, agree with) their philosophy of natural rights more than any other group. We wish that socialists and conservatives appreciated and even knew about their notions of democracy (mob rule), centralization, and individual liberty, so that we wouldn't have a federal government and a society that were so much different from what they envisioned. We wish that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington could be here today to tell everyone exactly what is wrong with their ideas and how they have corrupted the beautifully decentralized, limited government they prescribed.
What Rebecca said was: It is amazing to think that those people we adore and admire so much—Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Samuel Adams, George Mason, John Adams, John Hancock—were actual, living, breathing, real, flesh-and-blood people. They were a bunch of middle-aged white men, five and a half feet tall (except Madison), who wore whigs and probably spoke with English accents. They weren't just words in a history book, or signatures at the bottoms of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, or even paintings in the White House or a statue at William and Mary. They weren't just "the Framers," or the "Founding Fathers," or the "Father of the Revolution" and the first few presidents and the delegates at the Constitutional Convention—though those were great things—but they were actual, real people.
Benjamin Franklin actually published that "Join or Die" cartoon in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754, and it was revived in newspapers that actual colonists actually read in 1776. He actually sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to speak to the House of Commons against the Stamp Act in 1766.
Thomas Jefferson actually put quill to parchment and wrote the Declaration of Independence, and Franklin and others looked over it and edited it in Philadelphia. He really wrote those letters to James Madison in 1787, from France, and put them in envelopes and sent them across the ocean, which Madison opened and read in between meetings of the Constitutional Convention.
John Hancock's ship, the Liberty, was actually seized in Boston, and he actually made that big ol' signature on the Declaration.
Samuel Adams and other revolutionaries actually dressed up like indians and dumped that tea into Griffin's Wharf.
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay actually wrote the Federalist essays in New York newspapers and signed them Publius, and the citizens of New York read them just like we read op/ed columns. James Madison really did write the Bill of Rights, and he wrote down most everything that was said in the Constitutional Convention.
George Washington led those soldiers in the war, and stuck it out at Valley Forge, and lived in the White House (or whatever it was) in New York for four years and Philadelphia for four, and made that great farewell address in September 1796.
John Adams actually defended Captain Preston and the other Redcoats, in a real wood courthouse with real Bostonians as jurors, in the trial for the Boston Massacre, even though he hated the British.
Thomas Paine, a British immigrant, wrote Common Sense and The Crisis and went to a printing press and published hundreds of thousands of pamphlets, which hundreds of thousands of colonists read, and he was actually put in a French prison that James Madison had to get him out of.
Gouverneur Morris put quill to paper and wrote the words of the Constitution, or most of it. He spoke at the Convention more times than any other member. They all actually sat around and talked about their current government, their new government, and what it should and shouldn't be able to do, not unlike the way we talk about politics on TV, on the radio, and in person.
It would be beyond surreal to go back in time, à la Eric Cartman, and walk around Boston or New York or, especially, Philadelphia, and sit in at the Continental Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, and actually see these people talking and conversing and arguing, live and in person—to experience their actual existence—and it's almost as satisfying to think that, well, they really did these things whether we can witness it or not, and many thousands of forgotten, unfamous people watched and interacted with them anyway.
They all grew up, and went to school, and learned to read and write and do math, and had friends and enemies, and fell in and out of love as teenagers and adults, and did all the things any normal person does. But they were so great, and accomplished so much—and we have no audio or video recordings of their actions—that it's hard to think of them as real people sometimes.