Grassroots Leadership Academy is dedicated to turning activists into leaders and giving them the tools they need to make a difference. This July 4th, we want to recognize the qualities that made our Founders iconic leaders and helped them create the shining city on a hill that is the United States of America.

George Washington: Humility

Our first president held many powerful positions throughout his life, including Commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, but he never sought power. Bound by duty, he graciously accepted these positions and, although many encouraged him to serve a third term as president, he willingly relinquished his power.

Thomas Jefferson: Conviction

No Founder was more steadfast in his belief in natural rights and the importance of the individual than Jefferson. His conviction proved vital in the formative years of our country as the Founders debated how big and powerful a central government would be in the lives of Americans. Without Jefferson, the author our Declaration of Independence, we might not be celebrating this holiday today.

Sam Adams: Resilience

After graduating from college, Adams was an unsuccessful businessman and tax collector, squandering large amounts of wealth with his failures. He could have been content to fall back to being part of his family’s beer business. Instead, he dusted himself off and became a crucial figure in the fight for American independence. After the revolution, Adams returned to Massachusetts where he served in the state senate and was eventually elected governor.

Benjamin Franklin: Entrepreneurship

Franklin is perhaps the greatest example of entrepreneurship in American history. In addition to his many critical contributions to the founding of our country, Franklin boasts an impressive list of inventions and business ventures including but not limited to: bifocals, the lightning rod, the Franklin stove, the carriage odometer and the country’s first public lending library. When Ben Franklin saw something that could use improvement, he acted—whether it was a product or a form of government.

James Madison: Communication

Madison played a vital role when colonial leaders met to discuss forming a new nation. His articulation of our inalienable rights and the need for American independence was instrumental in the creation and ratification of our founding documents, earning him the title “Architect of the Constitution.” Madison’s ability to communicate and build consensus eventually won him the presidency.

George Mason: Integrity

Although he led the deliberations on the Constitution at the Philadelphia convention, Mason ended up objecting to the final product. Mason’s main objection was the absence of a bill of rights–he believed that without protecting additional rights, the Constitution granted the government too much power. Mason had the integrity to do what he thought was right and stand against the Constitution as it was, even though most of his friends and colleagues supported it. Of course, Mason’s concerns would be addressed soon after in our Bill of Rights, which protects the fundamental rights we enjoy as Americans today.

James Monroe: Dedication to Service

Called to serve, Monroe dropped out of college to become an officer in the Continental Army. He suffered a severed artery in battle and nearly died from his wounds, but Monroe wasn’t finished. Once he healed, he asked to go back to the frontlines, where he participated in critical campaigns of the war. His continued service to our country eventually took him to the Senate, the governorship of Virginia and the presidency.

The U.S. could use another generation of great leaders—do you think you have what it takes?
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