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Who Found the Founding Fathers?

It was U.S. President Harding who would coin the enduring phrase Founding Fathers to describe the people who helped shape the U.S. during the Revolutionary era. He's pictured here with his wife Florence on the front porch of the Harding house in Marion, Ohio.

© Corbis

As we said earlier, the term "Founding Fathers" has become a bit of a catchall. But if the Founding Fathers themselves weren't making satin baseball jackets emblazoned with "FF Forever" on the back, how did the expression spring up?

It wasn't uttered by George Washington or Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century. In fact, it wasn't coined until well into the 20th century. Warren G. Harding's 1920 acceptance speech at the Republican convention marked the first use of the phrase [source: Haselby].

"It was the intent of the founding fathers to give to this Republic a dependable and enduring popular government," Harding said.

It was 1941 before the phrase became more widely known, when historian and lawyer Kenneth Bernard Umbreit published his book "Founding Fathers: Men Who Shaped Our Tradition" [source: Haselby]. It entered the American lexicon and stayed put.

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