Founding Fathers

Our Nation's Found FathersOhio's Founding Fathers

After winning the War of Independence, leaders of the 13 states came together to build and develop a form of government for their new nation. These founding fathers worked just as tirelessly building the new American nation as they did in their fight for its independence. As freedom fighters, their causes for seeking independence varied around a common theme: Ensuring the freedom and the rights of the American people. As their lives transitioned from soldiers to nation builders, they remembered the ideal of freedom while drafting the documents that would define their nation and protect the liberty of its people.

George Washington Quote "Perseverance and spirt have done wonders in all ages." - 1775

  • 1732-1799
  • Home: Mount Vernon, Virginia
  • Vocation: Surveyor
  • Early Achievements: Served in the French-Indian War
  • Role in the Revolution: Commander-in-Chief of the Army
  • Role as a Founding Father: Presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution, First President

Benjamin Franklin Quote "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."

  • 1706-1790
  • Home: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Vocation:  Scientist, Writer, Politician
  • Early Achievements: Publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette
  • Role in the Revolution: Promoted anti-British propaganda, also advocated the cause of the 13 colonies in France, helped negotiate peace in the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
  • Role as the Founding Father: Helped write the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, First Postmaster General

John Adams Quote "Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people."

  • 1735- 1826
  • Home: Quincy, Massachusetts
  • Vocation: Lawyer
  • Role in the Revolution: Helped write the Declaration of Independence. Also helped negotiate peace in the 1783 Treaty of Paris
  • Role as a Founding Father: Helped write the U.S. Constitution, First Vice President, second President of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson Quote "...it is the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities, which occur to him, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country." - 1986

  • 1743-1826
  • Home: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Vocation: Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses
  • Early Achievements: Delegate from Virginia for the Second Continental Congress
  • Role in the Revolution: Helped write the Declaration of Independence
  • Role as a Founding Father: Third President of the United States

Patrick Henry Quote "I know of no way of judging the future but by the past."

  • 1736- 1799
  • Home: Hanover County, Virginia
  • Vocation: Planter and Lawyer
  • Role in the Revolution: Advocate for the mobilization of troops to defend against British Forces. Helped to pass the resolution delivering Virginia troops into the Revolutionary War through his famous "Give me Liberty or Give me Death!" speech.
  • Role as a Founding Father: Strong advocate for a Bill of Rights for the American people

Alexander Hamilton Quote "He who stands for nothing will fall for anything."

  • 1755 (or 57) - 1804
  • Home: New York City, New York
  • Vocation: Lawyer
  • Role in the Revolution:  An artillery soldier and also George Washington’s Assistant during the war.
  • Role as a Founding Father: Helped write the Federalist Papers, established the First Bank of the United States, first Secretary of the Treasury

James Madison Quote "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

  • 1751-1836
  • Hometown: Orange County Virginia
  • Vocation: Member of the Virginia State Legislature
  • Role in the Revolution: Served in the Virginia State Legislature during the revolution
  • Role as a Founding Father: Helped write the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Served as Jefferson's Secretary of State and the fourth President.

Ohio was originally a portion of the Northwest Territory, an area that also contained the land mass which would eventually become four other states. In 1787, the Northwest Ordinance was passed, establishing the process for statehood to be achieved within a territory once a government was formed and certain population requirements were met.

Ohio’s journey to statehood was not always an easy one. Some, such as Northwest Territory Governor Arthur St. Clair, opposed the process. Advocates included the Chillicothe Junto, a loose collection of Democrat-Republicans, primarily from the Virginia Military District, west of Chillicothe, who opposed St. Clair and were anxious for the Ohio Territory to become a state. Through the strong advocacy of leaders like Thomas Worthington, who personally traveled to Washington D.C. to enlist President Thomas Jefferson’s support, Congress passed the Enabling Act which allowed Ohio to begin the process of becoming a state with a Constitutional Convention in 1802.

For more information on the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1802, visit www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ohio_Constitutional_Convention_of_1802. For more about Ohio Statehood, read The Brief Story of Ohio Statehood (PDF), courtesy of the Ohio History Connection.

Edward Tiffin EDWARD TIFFIN
1766-1829

Tiffin was born in England on June 19, 1766. He moved to America to practice medicine and serve as a lay minister. In 1799, he was elected Speaker of the House for the Northwest Territory and oversaw the Ohio Constitutional Convention as President. He along with Thomas Worthington, his brother-in-law, and Nathaniel Massie were the leaders in the Chillicothe Junto and some of the strongest advocates for statehood. When Ohio became a state following the convention, Edward Tiffin was elected Ohio’s first Governor. For more information visit: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Edward_Tiffin

Thomas Worthington THOMAS WORTHINGTON
1773-1827

Thomas Worthington was born near Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1773 and moved to what is now Ross County in 1796. He served as a Ross County delegate in the Ohio Constitutional Convention and was a member of the Chillicothe Junto. Worthington went to Washington, D.C. to personally advocate for Ohio statehood. He became the sixth Governor of Ohio, moving the state capital to its current location in Columbus. For more information visit: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Thomas_Worthington

Nathaniel Massie NATHANIEL MASSIE
1763-1813

Born in 1763, Massie was a large landowner who founded many towns throughout Ohio, including the first Capital, Chillicothe. He was a leader of the Chillicothe Junto and was a representative of Ross County for the Ohio Constitutional Convention. Upon Ohio’s admittance into the Union, Massie served in the General Assembly as the first Speaker of the Ohio Senate.  For more information visit: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Nathaniel_Massie

Francis Dunlavy FRANCIS DUNLAVY
1761-1839

Born in 1761 in Winchester, Virginia, Dunlavy is recognized as the first teacher in the Miami Valley. A Hamilton County representative for the Ohio Constitutional Convention, he along with Michael Baldwin were the primary writers of the Ohio Constitution. As a strict abolitionist, he worked to grant suffrage to African Americans. For more information visit: www.historiclebanonohio.com/?q=dunlavy

Samuel Huntington SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
1765-1817

Born in Connecticut and educated at both Dartmouth and Yale, Huntington traveled with his wife to the small township of Cleveland in the Northwest Territory. He was elected to the Ohio Senate and chosen Speaker of the House, but instead was selected to become an Ohio Supreme Court Justice, soon becoming Chief Justice. As Chief Justice he established the principle of judicial review for Ohio, allowing the Supreme Court to determine if laws were unconstitutional under the Ohio Constitution.  He also served as Ohio’s third Governor. For more information: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Samuel_Huntington

Rufus Putnam RUFUS PUTNAM
1738-1824

Rufus Putnam was born in Sutton, Massachusetts. He served in the French and Indian War and assisted George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Following the war, he joined a group of men from Massachusetts to invest in land in Ohio. The Ohio Company of Associates received more than 1.6 million acres of land from the United States. Rufus Putnam established the first Ohio Company Settlement along the Bank of the Ohio River. Originally known as Adelphia, it soon became known as Marietta. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention he favored the Federalist Party and succeeded in preventing slavery from becoming legal in Ohio. For more information: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Rufus_Putnam

William Creighton, Jr. WILLIAM CREIGHTON, JR. 
1778-1851

Born in Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia) William Creighton, Jr. soon found himself in Ohio. An early proponent of statehood, he campaigned against Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory. Elected as a delegate for the Constitutional Convention in 1802, he joined Thomas Worthington and Edward Tiffin in supporting statehood. When Ohio achieved statehood, he served as the first Secretary of State until 1808. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1810 and in the U.S. House of Representatives for several terms between 1813 and 1833. He was considered one of the best attorneys in Ohio.
For more information: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Creighton_Jr.,_William

Michael Baldwin MICHAEL BALDWIN
?-1810

Born in Connecticut, Baldwin became a high profile lawyer in Ohio. A leader of the Chillicothe Junto and the “Bloodhounds” (which advocated violence in order to secure statehood), Baldwin was a passionate Democratic-Republican who was determined to see Ohio achieve statehood. Baldwin was one of the primary writers of the Ohio Constitution.  For more information visit: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Michael_Baldwin