Meet the Graduating Class of 1776

The year was 1776 and the American colonists were too busy fighting a war against the imperialist nation of England to be going to college. There was no American History gen-ed at the time—they had to make it first. 

In order to gain independence the leaders of America had to do three very important things: stand up against a dominate nation and declare their right to be governed by a local authority of their choosing as appose to a hasty, omnipotent King; coordinate and fight a war against said military powerhouse; and then unite 13 states with different legal interests and goals under one complex democratic foundation. 

The founding fathers needed more than just courage to pull this off. They needed some smarts. Had it not been for the intellectual training of these men it’s possible that this whole red, white and blue thing may have never come together. In honor of that, we’re going to take a look at what colleges these men went to: 

Alexander Hamilton

School: King’s College (now Columbia University)

Education: Being an orphan, Alexander Hamilton's education was paid for by local wealthy men. He studied economics and finance which enabled him to construct a financial system for 2.5 million colonists who had just become Americans. 

James Madison 

School: The College of New Jersey (now called Princeton University) 

Education: Among many things, Madison studied law, public policy, speech and debate. He used these skills to theorize and construct much of the constitution including the decisively 'America' Bill of Rights. 

John Adams 

School: Harvard College 

Education: Starting at 16 John Adams got a bachelors of arts, which in those days meant a whole lot of reading and writing—both in Latin and English. It was these soft communication skills that made him a phenomenal diplomat. His legacy is bringing together a divided nation of colonists to fight a war, win a war, and stay together after winning the war. 

Benjamin Franklin 

School: No college, just public school. One of America’s first public schools: Boston Latin School. 

Education: He didn’t even graduate, he was a voracious reader and extremely active politician, inventor, scientist and civic activist. If he were alive today, he'd probably be a high school drop out inventing apps in Silicon Valley. 

Thomas Jefferson 

School: the College of William & Mary 

Education: Jefferson studied everything from metaphysics to law, and was sucked into the writings of John Locke, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. Those writing influences came in handy when he wrote his own masterpiece—the Declaration of Independence. 

John Hancock 

School: Boston Latin School and Harvard College 

Education: An education in law combined with an 18th century style internship turned job with with his Uncle’s mercantile business awarded Hancock the savvy (and funds) to serve as an influential political figure before and after independence was won. 

George Washington 

School: None. I’m talking elementary school level. 

Education: Climbed the military ranks and eventually (as we all know) became President. 

 

An education helps us solve problems, which is exactly what these men were doing. 

As much as we like to think so, the ideas that make America great weren’t created out of thin air—they were a progression of concepts covered through dedicated study. While there (hopefully) won’t be another revolution, our society is constantly being refined, and as the world grows it’s up to use our education to work together to pursue change and perfect the world we see.

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