Chief Joseph Brant
A Mohawk Chief who had distinguished himself during the Revolutionary
War, Joseph Brant organized a military alliance
of Native American tribes in the northwest, which, while it faltered because of
limited support from certain portions of the Iroquois, presented the government
under the Articles of Confederation with a challenge in the west.
An inventor, a writer, and former ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin was
the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention. The other delegates
admired his wisdom, and his advice was crucial in the drafting of the
The outspoken leader of the Federalists, Hamilton emerged as a major
political figure during the Constitutional Convention, and during the period
of ratification, as one of the authors of The Federalist Papers
Secretary of Treasury under Washington, Alexander Hamilton spearheaded the
government's Federalist initiatives, most notably through his proposals on the
subject of public credit and the creation of the Bank of the United States.
John Jay played an important role in the establishment of the new government
under the Constitution. One of the authors of The Federalist
, he was involved in the drafting of the Constitution, became the
first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court under Washington, and went on
to negotiate Jay's Treaty with Britain to head off war in 1795.
Jefferson attained political fame originally as the author of the Declaration
of Independence. A prominent statesman from
Virginia, Jefferson became Washington's first Secretary of State. However,
in 1793, Jefferson resigned from that post in opposition to Alexander
Hamilton's continued efforts to garner power for the national government.
With James Madison, Jefferson took up the cause of the strict
constructionists and the Republican Party, advocating the limitation of the
Washington appointed Henry Knox his first Secretary of War. Knox played a
valuable role in the development of the executive branch. His most notable
actions came in relation to the struggle with the Native Americans on the
frontier, where he declared the Indian title to the land officially recognized
by the US in the early 1790s.
Madison joined forces with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay as a
Federalist leader during the Constitutional Convention and beyond. He
was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers
and, as a member of
the first Congress, a staunch advocate of strong central government.
However, after a string of Federalist measures that asserted the power of the
national government over the state in questionable areas, Madison defected from
the Federalist cause and became a critic of excessive central power. He joined
Thomas Jefferson in leading the rising Republican Party.
Washington, as the general of the Continental Army during the
Revolutionary War, was the obvious choice to be
the first President of the United States. Washington took on the task of
defining the presidency, attempting to establish the role through precedent. He
intervened little in legislative affairs, and concentrated mostly on diplomacy
and finance. A Federalist, he granted Alexander Hamilton a great deal
of support, despite frequent misgivings.