1. George Washington
If you had any doubt where this was ending up, then you probably don’t care enough about the topic to make it this far. Yes, our first founding father defined the term “badass.” You could even consider him an action hero whose commanding presence and calmness under fire would be worthy of a John Wayne movie.
But aside from the fact that this president would have regarded “leading from the rear” with utter contempt, or the number of horses he had shot out from under him and the bullet ridden coat you can still see on display, what proves George Washington is not only the Number 1 Badass of the Founding Fathers, but possibly in American history, is the reaction of his contemporaries.
This is a guy who could settle an argument among a room full of the best and brightest men in the world with a simple declaration of how things should be. (At least 2 of those men had the hubris to rewrite the Bible the way they thought it should be, and all of them had risked hanging to establish a new form of government.)
And when you think of the contentious fights between those egos over who would be the succeeding presidents to Washington, the idea that he would be the not only unanimous — but obvious — choice of this group to lead them is just mind-boggling.
Without the rhetorical flourishes of a Henry or a Paine, Washington could enter a room full of possibly rebellious soldiers whose rightful pay was being withheld by the Congress and leave them weeping simply by the force of his character.
And last, but not least, nearly everything he did to establish how a president should act and lead (basically on the fly and by instinct) was naturally accepted as correct and proper by his peers, and established precedent for centuries.
And for at least a hundred years after his death, political arguments could be settled by the mere fact that “Washington said so.”
Arguments among “historians” that any other president should be placed at the top of the list of American greats are plain ignorant. Of the Top 10, the first 9 places should be occupied by George Washington.