The Founding Fathers and Their Influence on Education

Share this Article

  • Email

July 3, 2019

In 1776, the Founding Fathers sent the greatest break-up text ever written. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, starting the chain of events that led to the Revolutionary War.

It doesn’t surprise us that the Founding Fathers included individuals who valued education. In celebration of Independence Day, we’re highlighting signatories who were educators or who were influential to education:

Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania)

Benjamin Franklin was a leading figure in American history. Throughout his life, he was a statesman, author, publisher, scientist, inventor and diplomat. While he did not teach, Benjamin Franklin was an influential figure in education. In 1731, in response to the lack of books available in the colonies, Franklin established a lending library. It was the largest public library in the United States until the 1850s. Additionally, Franklin was heavily involved with the creation of the University of Philadelphia. Known as the Academy of Philadelphia until 1791, the college’s doors opened in 1751.   

Thomas Jefferson (Virginia)

Thomas Jefferson was best known as the author of the Declaration of Independence, as well as being the third president of the United States. Jefferson also founded the University of Virginia. He was so proud of this accomplishment that he listed it as one of three in the epitaph that he wrote for himself. The other two accomplishments were being the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

Benjamin Rush (Pennsylvania)

Benjamin Rush was a professor of chemistry at the College of Philadelphia and a professor of medical theory and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He was very influential in medicine. He is known for publishing the first American textbook on chemistry.

John Witherspoon (New Jersey)

John Witherspoon was the first president of the College of New Jersey. He worked very hard and turned it into a successful institution. Today, it is called Princeton University.

Lewis Morris (New York)

Lewis Morris was on the First Board of Regents of the University of New York. He served on it until his death in 1798.

George Wythe (Virginia)

George Wythe was the nation’s first law professor. He taught Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, James Monroe, John Marshal and other distinguished officials. Wythe taught for 20 years. He loved that he was able to shape young minds.

George Clymer (Pennsylvania)

George Clymer was the first president of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. He held this post until he passed in January of 1813.

James Wilson (Pennsylvania)

James Wilson was a Latin tutor, an English literature lecturer and the first law professor at the College of Philadelphia.  


Questions & Feedback