Fellow Travelers

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Elitist Founding Fathers

People are always complaining that we have a government where our elected officials are lawyers or doctors or otherwise elitists, and that our country was not founded by the "power elites". This shows a fundamental deep-seated ignorance of American history, heck, back then the power elites were the only people who were even literate! It wasn't until the advent of nationwide public schools that you had widespread literacy.

So, I give you the elitist signers of the Declaration of Independence

("Statesmen" below means basically "career politician", incumbent, elitist, etc. They're people for whom I couldn't find any career other than being in politics. The 1700s being what they were, those people probably owned land, slaves, etc. Also, anybody listed as a "Plantation Owner" would have had bundles and bundles of slaves.)

President of Congress

1. John Hancock (Massachusetts) - Wealthy shipping magnate

Hancock inherited a very successful shipping company, and further increased it in scope and wealth

New Hampshire

2. Josiah Bartlett - Doctor

3. William Whipple - Merchant, Judge

4. Matthew Thornton - Doctor


5. Samuel Adams - Statesman and Harvard grad

6. John Adams - Lawyer and Harvard grad

7. Robert Treat Paine - Lawyer and Harvard grad

8. Elbridge Gerry - Doctor, merchant, and Harvard grad

Rhode Island

9. Stephen Hopkins - Merchant and ship owner

10. William Ellery - Merchant, Lawyer, Judge


11. Roger Sherman - Lawyer and Judge

12. Samuel Huntington - Lawyer

13. William Williams - Merchant and pastor

14. Oliver Wolcott - Career soldier and statesman

New York

15. William Floyd - Farmer and statesman

16. Philip Livingston - Merchant, statesman, Yale grad

17. Francis Lewis - Mercantile agent

18. Lewis Morris - Real estate owner/developer

New Jersey

19. Richard Stockton - Lawyer

20. John Witherspoon - Preacher

21. Francis Hopkinson - Customs Collector and Judge

22. John Hart - Statesman

23. Abraham Clark - Lawyer


24. Robert Morris - Merchant and slave trader

25. Benjamin Rush - Doctor

26. Benjamin Franklin - Author, printer, scientist, statesman, all-around polymath. Also quite the ladies man.

27. John Morton - Farmer and Judge

28. George Clymer - Statesman

29. James Smith - Lawyer

30. George Taylor - Ironmaster at a foundry

(Real rags to riches story, George came to the US as an indentured servant. He was one of the very few non-elites who signed the Declaration.)

31. James Wilson - Lawyer

32. George Ross - Lawyer


33. George Read - Lawyer

34. Caesar Rodney - Lawyer

35. Thomas McKean - Lawyer


36. Samuel Chase - Lawyer and Judge

37. William Paca - Lawyer and Judge

38. Thomas Stone - Plantation owner

39. Charles Carroll of Carrollton - Financier and oppressed Catholic

(It's suspected that the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion was in appreciation to all the work that Charles Carroll did for the Revolution, when previously Catholics had been unable to practice law or vote)


40. George Wythe - Lawyer and Judge

41. Richard Henry Lee - Statesman, descendant of the FFV

42. Thomas Jefferson - Highly educated polymath

43. Benjamin Harrison - Plantation owner

44. Thomas Nelson, Jr. - Plantation owner and statesman

45. Francis Lightfoot Lee - Statesman, descendant of the FFV

46. Carter Braxton - Merchant-planter and slave trader

The "First Families of Virginia", descendents of the Jamestown settlers, were the old money in Virginia, they were the most powerful and influential families in Virginia's social, financial, and political elite. One of these families was the Lee family, from which famous Civil War General Robert E. Lee was descended.

North Carolina

47. William Hooper - Lawyer and Hardvard Grad

48. Joseph Hewes - Merchant and Princeton grad

49. John Penn - Lawyer

South Carolina

50. Edward Rutledge - Lawyer, owned over 50 slaves

51. Thomas Heyward, Jr. - Lawyer, Judge

52. Thomas Lynch, Jr. - Lawyer

53. Arthur Middleton - Lawyer


54. Button Gwinnett - Merchant and plantation owner

55. Lyman Hall - Doctor and Yale grad

56. George Walton - Carpenter, Freemason, statesman

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