From the Left



The Founders: Only One Best Man for Women

Jamie Stiehm on

WASHINGTON -- The Founding Fathers, a great group of guys, gathered in Philadelphia in July of 1776 and again in 1787. What a wonder, 55 bright lights met in one room to start a revolution that isn't over yet.

We know the Declaration of Independence signers and Constitution framers were also flawed human beings. Many were rich slave owners, Virginians most of all. They preferred to say "planters."

But who was the "wokest" of them all? I mean, from a woman's point of view.

Not Alexander Hamilton, ladies and gentlemen, despite fabulous Broadway fame. Thomas Jefferson or John Adams? They dearly loved their wives.

For the Fourth of July, let's see about that.

Washing ashore, Hamilton was inventive and clever, charming but a bit ruthless in career-climbing. He was George Washington's adored young aide in the Revolutionary War and later his Treasury secretary.


Hamilton was no champion for women. He publicly confessed to bribing another man to keep quiet about his philandering. His wife Betsy was loyal and sweet -- a tad drab -- from a New York political family.

Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson is an enigma, but he clearly wrote the words, "All men are created equal." And he really meant to leave us out of that beautiful sentence.

Jefferson was tall, engaging and played the violin, among his many talents. He thought he was a dreamy catch with women, and indeed he was. After he and his wife Martha had two daughters, she died young. He soon made Sally Hemings his slave mistress -- Martha's own half sister with the same white father. He had a second family with Hemings.

Jefferson never wrote a word about women rising in the public sphere, just as he never recognized his family of color. He was blind to inclusion for women and Blacks for all his long life. He died on the Fourth of July in 1826.


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