Today’s cuppa: English breakfast tea (much like the stuff dumped in Boston Harbor during the original Tea Party)
Back in November, I posted an interview with “NCIS: Los Angeles” star LL Cool J, and in the course of the chat, it occurred to me to ask him his favorite Founding Father (you know, those guys who signed the Declaration of Independence and wrote the Constitution). He named Benjamin Franklin (left) — one of my personal faves — and explained why.
Since then, from time to time, I’ve posed that question to other actors, either in person, by email or on Facebook. A couple weren’t sure what a Founding Father was or couldn’t name one offhand, but the majority came through admirably. I have requests still outstanding, but here’s what I have so far:
Eddie McClintock, Syfy’s “Warehouse 13“: “Thank you for including me in this query, though I fear I don’t know enough about these men to make an intelligent choice (much like my votes for president, ironically). If I had to choose, I would say George Washington (right). He was a brave and decorated military leader who had the intellect and strength of personality to be successful politically. And I heard he was a hell of a dancer (which makes him a ‘triple threat’)!!”
Walton Goggins, formerly of FX’s “The Shield” and now appearing in FX’s upcoming “Justified”: “OK, this one’s easy. JOHN ADAMS. Why? The sacrifice that this man made over the course of his life for our REPUBLIC, from representing the British officers accused in the BOSTON MASSACRE to procuring funds for our fledgling uprising from the Dutch — a man among men; a just man with a moral compass pointing due North.”
Michael Chiklis, formerly of FX’s “The Shield”: “Being from the Boston area, I’m going to have to go with a local boy, John Adams (left), for many reasons, not the least of which was he stood to lose the most. When someone supports a cause because they believe in it, in spite of the fact that they risk life, liberty, family and personal wealth, that is the definition of courage and integrity.”
(When I mentioned to Chiklis that Goggins and he picked the same guy, he replied, “Yeah, I just gave him sh-t for copying me! Kidding…naturally he chose the same Founding Father. Great minds, you know …”)
“3) (Thomas) Jefferson (right). He owned (and probably had children with) slaves, and his second term as president makes George W. Bush’s tenure in office look like an exercise in constitutional moderation, but he said everything that is important about government’s proper relationship to mankind, in one paragraph. That’s the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, if you’re keeping score at home.
(And here that is: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely
to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate
that Governments long established should not be changed for light and
transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that
mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to
right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably
the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute
Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such
Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such
has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the
necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of
Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a
history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct
object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To
prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.“)
“2) (James) Madison (left): It’s all well and good to say that governments are instituted by the people to insure their rights — actually crafting a document that does that is a very different and difficult proposition. The United States Constitution protects the liberty of the individual better than any document in human history, and Madison was its main architect.
“1): Washington. There are few constants in human history, but here is one: the men with the weapons get to make the rules. Newburgh, N.Y., March, 1783. The war with Britain was over but for the signing of the treaty. The Continental Army, camped near Newburgh, had not been paid, and its officers were talking about a military coup. A meeting was called that Washington was not expected to attend. He arrived just after it began and walked up to the podium to speak. His officers, some of whom he had led since the beginning of the war, were angry. Washington spoke for some time about the need for patience, but to little effect. Finally, he began to read a letter from a member of Congress. He stopped and reached into his coat for a pair of glasses. ‘Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country.’ That statement ended the coup at a stroke. George Washington did something that very few people in history have done — he walked away from absolute power. Without that, the work of all the other Founders comes to very little.
“Honorable mention: for a pub crawl through Paris, I’d go with Ben Franklin.”
Mark Valley, former star of Fox’s “Keen Eddie” and ABC’s “Boston Legal,” now the star of Fox’s upcoming “Human Target,” premiering Jan. 17 (Valley’s also a West Point grad and Gulf War vet): “My favorite Founding Father — hold on, it’s coming. You know, I gotta say, it’s got to be George Washington, because, at the time, everybody wanted him to be a king. They wanted him to become this huge demagogue. The only thing standing between a new monarchy and a democracy was actually George Washington.
“I think it’s the fact that he turned that down set us on a path to a completely new form of government, as opposed to going back in the past. That really separated him from some of the previous leaders. Also, he was a great tactician strategically. What he did, crossing the Delaware! That was f–king brilliant! Also, he was putting together this Continental Army, and he wasn’t afraid to take influence from the Hessians and, to some extent, the French as well. He put together this really disciplined Army from what was, by all accounts, a ragtag group of militias. That was really something.”
Chi McBride, Valley’s “Target” co-star and former star of Fox’s “Boston Public” and ABC’s “Pushing Daisies”: “Jefferson, because Jefferson said that a government that can give you everything you want is also capable of taking everything you have. Jefferson wasn’t a dumb guy. There is a profound bit of wisdom with a lot of the people who founded this country.”
Adam Baldwin, current Big Hollywood.com contributor, formerly of Fox’s “Firefly” and star of NBC’s “Chuck,” which returns for a new season on Jan. 10, also has a list: My favorite Founding Father would be John Adams or James Madison. Madison wrote the Constitution, gotta love that guy. Or George Washington, because he was a great general. I also like (Alexander) Hamilton.
“I can’t nail it down to one look. I’m an individualist. You need a band of brothers with divergent viewpoints that distill down to the most wonderful document ever created in the history of man. Those guys all got together. What did you expect me to say, John Hancock?
And lastly, Mykelti Williamson, star of the upcoming 8th season of Fox’s “24” (starting Jan. 17), expands the definition of Founding Father: “Abraham Lincoln (right), to me, he’s the founding father of a certain kind of freedom and liberation. But I’d go right to the nucleus and say George Washington. Integrity. To sum it up, integrity.”