Lemuel Haynes: born in Connecticut to a white mother and black father, Haynes worked as an indentured servant prior to enlisting in the Massachusetts militia, and then the Continental Army. Haynes also experienced evangelical conversion and came under the tutelage of local Calvinist pastors. Shortly after the Declaration of Independence, Haynes wrote “Liberty Further Extended,” possibly the most powerful argument against slavery from the Revolutionary era.
When Americans speak of the “Founding Fathers,” they usually have a group of about six men in mind: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, James Madison, and John Adams, for sure, and maybe Alexander Hamilton or Samuel Adams. These Founders are endlessly fascinating, but if all we do is focus on this short list, we get a skewed view of the Revolution.
I recently contributed an essay on Patrick Henry to Mark David Hall and Gary Gregg’s America’s Forgotten Founders (now in its 2nd edition, from ISI Books), which introduces readers to some of the lesser-known Founding Fathers. As I also discuss in my biography, Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, Henry is probably one the best known of those forgotten Founders, but he is not quite in the top tier of those we remember….
John Witherspoon: a Scots Presbyterian minister, president of Princeton, and teacher of James Madison, Witherspoon was elected to serve in the Continental Congress, and signed the Declaration of Independence (the only clergyman to do so)….
Lemuel Haynes: born in Connecticut to a white mother and black father, Haynes worked as an indentured servant prior to enlisting in the Massachusetts militia, and then the Continental Army….
Roger Sherman: another devout evangelical from Connecticut, Sherman was the only Patriot to sign all four of the great American founding documents….
David Avery: converted under George Whitefield’s preaching, Avery worked as a pastor in Vermont until the outbreak of the Revolution, when he became one of George Washington’s key chaplains….
John Zubly: the wildcard of the list, this Swiss Presbyterian pastor of Savannah, Georgia, became perhaps the most fascinating American Loyalist of the Revolution….