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Founding Fathers are persons instrumental not only in the establishment (founding) of a political institution, but also in the origination of the idea of the institution. It is applied especially to those men involved with the creation and early development of the United States of America, such as the signers of its Declaration of Independence and the framers of its Constitution, in which case it refers to such individuals as George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. But it can be applied to other countries as well.
The ideas of the Founding Fathers of the United States were heavily influenced by the European Enlightenment and their precursors of Polish brethren. The very concept is analogous to the concept of the Church fathers.
Some modern Americans regard the term "Founding Fathers" as inaccurate, believing it diminishes the role of women. For this reason, some use the term "Founders of the Republic" or simply "Founders."
Along with the United States, several countries recognize a group of men as their historic national founders. Canada has its Fathers of Confederation (see Canadian Confederation).
The leaders of the Australian federalist movement in the 1890s might also be described as Founding Fathers.
Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi, Paul-Henri Spaak and Altiero Spinelli have been referred to as the founding fathers of the European Union.
Last updated: 05-22-2005 15:35:48