How Old Were the US Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776?

"The constitution was basically a Reddit post," wrote one social media user commenting on the young ages of some of the so-called "Founding Fathers."

Published March 26, 2024

 (X post / Public Domain)
Image courtesy of X post / Public Domain

Lists containing the names of some of the U.S. Founding Fathers and their respective ages on July 4, 1776, the date the Declaration of Independence was adopted, have circulated online since at least 2013. The point of the posts is that the founders — or at least some of them — were shockingly young, thereby proving there is no "minimum age requirement" to be a great leader or to "embrace the greatness of the United States."

The example below (archived), shared to X (formerly Twitter) on March 19, 2024, purports to list the genuine ages of seven of the 50-odd men we now regard as Founding founders when the Declaration was ratified. At the time of this publication, the post had received more than 5.5 million views: 


The ages listed above are correct, though historians are still unsure of the exact year of Alexander Hamilton's birth (it was either in 1755 or in 1757). It bears pointing out that the first four names on the list, uncoincidentally, happen to be those of the youngest four founders. Lastly, this post's mention of the U.S. Constitution is somewhat misleading, in that the Constitution wouldn't be signed until 1787, 11 years later.

Generally speaking, the "Founding Fathersare those regarded as the leaders of the American Revolution and the birth of the United States as a sovereign republic. Many were delegates to the Continental Congress, a group of leaders primarily responsible for running the colonial government, and who also led the resistance to the British during the first two years of the revolution. 

On July 2, 1776, the Congress voted to declare independence from British colonial rule. Two days later, on July 4, the group ratified the Declaration of Independence. The document was signed by the delegates on Aug. 2, 1776. Signatories at the time ranged in age from 30 to 70 years old, reports the National Archives, which referred Snopes to a transcription of the document that names each signatory, with further details that can also be viewed here. (This webpage from Harvard also has some helpful details on the whereabouts of some of the Founding Fathers on July 4.)

Snopes got in touch with the National Archives, which helped us break down the ages of all the signatories of both the Declaration and the U.S. Constitution, which, along with the Bill of Rights, are on permanent public display in the rotunda of the National Archives, the agency told Snopes.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence are characterized here, and we have also listed each person below in alphabetical order, followed by their age at the time the Declaration was signed. 

The four-page U.S. Constitution was signed more than a decade later on Sept. 17, 1787. According to the National archives: 

The original states, except Rhode Island, collectively appointed 70 individuals to the Constitutional Convention. A number of these individuals did not accept or could not attend, including Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. In all, 55 delegates attended the Constitutional Convention sessions, but only 39 actually signed the Constitution. 

Signatories of the Declaration of Independence and Their Ages as of July 4, 1776:

  • John Adams, 40
  • Samuel Adams, 53
  • Josiah Bartlett, 46
  • Carter Braxton, 39
  • Charles of Carrollton, Carroll, 38
  • Samuel Chase, 35
  • Abraham Clark, 50
  • George Clymer, 37
  • William Ellery, 48
  • William Floyd 41
  • Benjamin Franklin, 70
  • Elbridge Gerry, 32
  • Button Gwinnett, 41
  • Lyman Hall, 52
  • John Hancock, 40
  • Benjamin Harrison, 50
  • John Hart, 65
  • Joseph Hewes, 46
  • Thomas Heyward, Jr., 30
  • Hooper William, 34
  • Stephen Hopkins, 69
  • Francis Hopkinson, 38
  • Samuel Huntington, 45
  • Thomas Jefferson, 33
  • Francis Lightfoot Lee, 41
  • Henry Richard Lee, 44
  • Francis Lewis, 63
  • Philip Livingston, 60
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr., 26
  • Thomas McKean, 42
  • Arthur Middleton, 34
  • Lewis Morris, 50
  • Robert Morris, 42
  • John Morton, 52
  • Thomas Nelson, Jr., 37
  • William Paca, 35
  • Robert Treat Paine, 45
  • John Penn, 36
  • George Read, 42
  • Caesar Rodney, 47
  • George Ross, 46
  • Benjamin Dr. Rush, 30
  • Edward Rutledge, 26
  • Roger Sherman, 55
  • James Smith, 57
  • Richard Stockton, 45
  • Thomas Stone, 33
  • George Taylor, 60
  • Matthew Thornton, 62
  • George Walton, 35
  • William Whipple, 46
  • William Williamson, 45
  • James Wilson, 33
  • John Witherspoon, 53
  • Oliver Wolcott, 49
  • George Whythe, 50

Signatories of the U.S. Constitution and Their Ages as of Sept. 17, 1787:


Alexander Hamilton (U.S. National Park Service). Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

Constitution of the United States | DocsTeach. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

"Declaration of Independence: A Transcription." National Archives, 1 Nov. 2015,

Did Any of Our "Founding Fathers" NOT Sign the Declaration of Independence? Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/Kate_Kelly_Esq/Status/1770050013436969329?S=20." X (Formerly Twitter), Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

Milestones: 1776–1783 - Office of the Historian. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

"Signers of the Declaration of Independence." National Archives, 6 Nov. 2015,

"The Constitution of the United States." National Archives, 30 Oct. 2015,

"The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription." National Archives, 4 Nov. 2015,

"The Declaration of Independence." National Archives, 30 Oct. 2015,

The Founding Fathers: New York | National Archives. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

The Founding Fathers: Virginia | National Archives. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

---. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

"The Signers' Gallery." National Archives, 6 Nov. 2015,

Madison Dapcevich is a freelance contributor for Snopes.