What Did the Founders Think of the Founders?

We often harken back to the glory days of American politics, thinking "If only we had men like Jefferson and Adams around today!" But what did the Founders think of the Founders?

"Could the absurdities in principle and conduct of our two great parties for the last 12 years be laid before the world in a candid and dispassionate manner, we should be ashamed to call ourselves MEN. The disputes of children about their nuts and gingerbread have less folly and wickedness in them." -- Dr. Benjamin Rush, quoted in Madison and Jefferson, p. 463


  1. I heartily recommend John P. Kaminski, ed., The Founders on the Founders.

    A taste: "[On the rumor of Paine's death.] So poor Tom Paine is gone to see whether there is any State besides the present. Heaven be praised that he is gone there, instead of coming to America." (Abigail Adams to John Adams)

    Also on Paine: "The Man appears to me to be mad—not drunk. He has the Vanity of the Lunatic who believed himself to be Jupiter the Father of Gods and Men." (John Adams to Abigail Adams)


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