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When we look at the history of our great country, seven key political leaders and statesmen stick out as exceptional leaders in their time: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. These Founding Fathers took action and fought for their ideals, creating the land of the brave, the home of the free, the United States of America. These Founding Fathers were, in a word, fearless.

Two hundred and twenty-five years after the signing of the Constitution, how would these fearless Founders engage with their communities and support their nation?

Here’s what we think:

In his days John Adams served as a diplomat in Europe and was a major negotiator of the peace treaty with Great Britain. An intellectual man of strong conviction, Adams is quoted as saying “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.”[1] We believe a 21st century John Adams would be a strong candidate for programs such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, or Public Allies. Members of these programs certainly have the strength of character to overcome all challenges that come across their path.

The multi-talented Benjamin Franklin would be perfect for the Civic Data Challenge. A civic leader with a mind for science and the occasional political cartoon, we’re sure any app or infographic he created would wow the Challenge’s judges. With his analytical mind, we wouldn’t be surprised if he also joined the Code for America Fellowship program.

The first Secretary of the Treasury, a modern Alexander Hamilton would put his money where his mouth is, using Global Giving and Network for Good to give to causes he cares about. Meanwhile, John Jay, the first Chief Justice would educate the people on civics and the law. He would probably use programs such as Generation Citizen or team up with former Justice Sandra Day O’Conner and iCivics.org.

Thomas Jefferson was an entrepreneurial man whose purchase of the Louisiana Territories more than doubled the size of the U.S. He would continue to make good business decisions today by participating in The Civic 100, a nationwide initiative to survey, rank and recognize S&P 500 corporations that demonstrate leadership and investment in civic engagement. He would also join A Billion + Change in their effort to mobilize skilled professionals to address community issues.

Father of the Constitution James Madison would be a busy man this year, the 225th anniversary of this great document. He would lead the Peter Jennings Project at the National Constitution Center, helping both professional and student journalists understand constitutional issues more deeply. In his free time he would share his wisdom by blogging for the Constitution Daily.

George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, was an active man who understood the price of war. Today he would continue to perform acts of valor by volunteering with coalitions like Joining Forces, an initiative that moves society to give back to our veterans, and The Mission Continues which empowers veterans to continue giving back to communities through volunteer service.

Each Founding Father played an integral role in establishing this great country. Their fearless leadership and dedication to their beliefs will never go out of style. As fearless citizens we can continue the mission they started over two centuries ago to make America a great place to live, work, and play.

Which fearless leader do you most resemble and how are you honoring the Founders’ legacy this Independence Day?


The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC.net) believes everyone has the power to make a difference in how their communities and country thrive. NCoC was chartered by Congress in 1953 to harness the patriotic energy and national civic involvement surrounding World War II, and we’ve been invigorated by this charge ever since. Today, we continue to discover and share best practices in civic engagement.


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