10 Little-known Facts About the Founding Fathers

Who's Your Daddy?
The scene at the Constitutional Convention, as painted by Howard Chandler Christy in 1910. © GraphicaArtis/Corbis

That's right, our first little-known fact about the Founding Fathers is ... who the Founding Fathers are. Indeed, most of us never had a primer about who to include in the group, because none of them self-identified as a Founding Father. (We'll get into the origin of the title later.)

Commonly, we refer to our Founding Fathers as those who were present at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Easy enough, right? Well, when you consider that Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams and John Hancock all weren't present at the convention you might start to rethink the categories.

Accordingly, we tend to include not just those at the Constitutional Convention but also those who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. But even that is a pretty select group, and it doesn't encompass all the countless men -- and women -- who helped shape the United States government and ideals during the Revolutionary era.

So, in a way, you can include any revolutionary or activist you want in the mix, and we often do, by referring to Paul Revere or other early American patriots in the group. And that's exactly how we'll define the Founding Fathers in this article, to avoid missing out on some of the most interesting -- or least-known -- early progressives.