Other Founders

In Summary

Works by John Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry from JMC programs for teachers.

“The divine science of politicks is the science of social happiness, and the blessings of society depend entirely on the constitutions of government, which are generally institutions that last for many generations, there can be no employment more agreeable to a benevolent mind, than a research after the best.”

John Adams

“Thoughts on Government”


John Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry may not have been among the most prominent or well-liked founders, but they still made meaningful contributions to the founding of the United States. Adams served as the second President of the United States, Paine wrote the most widely read pamphlet of the Revolutionary period, and Henry served as the Governor of Virginia twice.

JMC Resources

John Adams portrait

John Adams

In these documents, John Adams reflects on the just end of government and the necessary components of a national constitution. Both were written before the Declaration of Independence was signed in July of 1776, and Adams is already thinking about long-term plans for the new nation.


“Thoughts on Government,” 1776


Letter to Zabdiel Adams, 1776


John Adams Discovery Page 

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Thomas Paine, Laurent Dabos

Thomas Paine

Arguably the most influential pamphlet in American history, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense inspired many colonists to support independence from Britain. The selections here are some of the strongest arguments against the British form of government. In the first chapter of Age of Reason, Paine discusses the negative effects of state-established churches.


Common Sense, selections, 1776


The Age of Reason; being and Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology, First Part, Ch. 1, 1793


Thomas Paine Discovery Page 


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Patrick Henry, William Wirt

Patrick Henry


In this letter, Patrick Henry acknowledges the evil of slavery and admits his unwillingness to free his own slaves for the sake of “general inconvenience.”


Letter to Robert Pleasants, 1773


A devout Christian, Henry advocated a tax to support Christian education in Virginia. He also believed that religion was essential aspect of a strong society.


A Bill Establishing a Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion, 1784


Letter to Archibald Blair, 1799

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