In the year 1776, the founders of free America gathered in Philadelphia to sign the historic Declaration of Independence with the words “We pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Over time, several speculations have been made on their exact fortunes. A more recent study has revealed the real picture of the wealth possessed by the founding fathers.
Over a century ago, a professor at Columbia University, Charles A. Beard asserted that all the founding fathers were rich. But a recent investigation dismisses his analysis on the matter and holds up an entirely different picture of the life and wealth of the founding fathers after examination of their lives throughout the three decades of trying to build a new nation. According to the research, all the founding fathers were not born rich or remained rich.
The Fortune of the Founding Fathers
Samuel Adams was born in the family of a Boston malt merchant, whose mortgage bank was shut down by the British. The elder Adams went bankrupt in repaying all the loans, unable to afford his son’s education expenses at Harvard. On the other hand, his friend John Hancock was adopted by his uncle, who was possibly the richest merchant in New England. After completing Harvard, Hancock extended his family business successfully, becoming even wealthier. He invested a large share of his fortune in the revolution. The lives of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington can be compared to the quintessential rags-to-riches stories. In their later life though, most of the founding fathers were rich in land and assets, but poor in cash. Alexander Hamilton, who was the creator of the financial system of the free U.S., was so broke, that after his demise in a duel, his friends had to collect funds to arrange his funeral.