Myth of the Month 16: “The Founding Fathers” (Episode #117)

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The “Founding Fathers” — the most rarefied club in American history — stand in for everything we love or hate about this country, from its civic an religious freedom to its white supremacism. As if carved in stone (which they oftentimes are), they loom over every political debate, even though most of us know next to nothing about them, or even who counts as one of the group. Coined by that immortal wordsmith, President Warren Harding, the phrase “Founding Fathers” serves as an empty vessel for civic emotion, conveniently covering over the actual history of struggle, conflict, and contention that shaped the American republic. Suggested Further Reading: Woody Holton, “Forced Founders” and “Unruly Americans and the Origins of the US Consitution”; Gordon Wood, “The Radicalism of the American Revolution”; Gerald Horne, “The Counter-Revolution of 1776”; Charles Beard, “An Economic Interpretation of the United States Constitution”; Joseph Eliis, “Founding Brothers”

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