George Washington, perhaps the best known of the country's founding fathers, was actually almost a military failure. During the American Revolution, he managed to force the British out of Boston--only to lose New York City. Washington was almost captured in the debacle.
President, slave owner, and statesman Thomas Jefferson is one of the most controversial of the founding fathers. Often credited with authoring most of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson secretly penned the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which lambasted the Alien and Sedition Acts.
- Possibly the original Renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin was a noted polymath, inventor, and philosopher. He's credited with establishing the first public lending library and fire department. Franklin's efforts during the First Continental Congress and thereafter earned him the title of First American.
- Though John Adams is best known for his presidency, he had a crucial role in reaching a peace treaty with Great Britain and ending the American Revolution. Twenty-five years later Adams nominated John Marshal to be Chief Justice of the United States.
- John Adam's second cousin Samuel Adams was a bastion of American republicanism. Though he's often lauded as one of the great thinkers of the time, many historians also criticize Samuel Adams for his use of propaganda and encouragement of mob mentality during the American Revolution.
- John Jay not only served as President of the Continental Congress, but he later served as the minister to both Spain and France. Jay was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and anonymously wrote some of the Federalist Papers along with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
- Most of us haven't heard of John Rutledge, but the South Carolina governor sat on the first Constitutional Convention. He's credited with writing large sections of the United States Constitution.
For history enthusiasts, rare books about the founding fathers are both inspiring and engaging additions to the personal library.