America’s Founders: Entrepreneurs and Opportunists

Our nation’s forefathers were reputed for their progressive views, business-minded principals and pursuit of independence through the establishment of a new government. It might help to consider these tenets as we aim for our own goals in our careers and retirement.

Earlier this year, author Edward Lenge published a book based on the writings of America’s first president. The book, titled “First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His -- and the Nation’s -- Prosperity,” offers tremendous insights into how this former military general and entrepreneur approached his job as “CEO” of the country. For example:

•    His mom infused in him the principle that industry and morality should work in concert.
•    He approached running the United States as if he were running a business, with the goal of long-term success and sustainability.
•    When he first became President, there was much political division, uncertainty and fear. Washington’s priorities were to build up the nation’s credit, establish a stable currency, build the national infrastructure and keep the peace.
•    One of his first tasks was to eliminate the country’s international debt, then equivalent to trillions in today’s dollars.
•    To tackle the debt issue, he hired Alexander Hamilton to work with him in a capacity much like today’s Federal Open Market Committee. Washington set the goals and strategy, while Hamilton developed many of the concepts for implementing economic policy.
•    Washington advocated free trade, believing that interconnected reliance would help various factions realize common interests and work together for peaceful relations.
•    Washington grew to oppose slavery, believing that oppression restricted motivation and innovation, which would hold back the nation in the long run.
•    He was a fan of gathering, classifying and disseminating information about business and experimentation, with an emphasis on transparency (he would have loved the internet).
•    He opposed the development of political factions, believing they would be detrimental to national peace.

It’s no coincidence that Washington and our other forefathers enjoyed success in a variety of fields. After helping to obtain our nation’s independence, our earliest Presidents and political leaders have an impressive list of accomplishments, and not just in the political realm.

Our second President, John Adams, became an extremely successful lawyer after he defended the perpetrators of the Boston Massacre. His top-notch client list included wealthy merchants, politicians and the country’s elite.

Our third President, Thomas Jefferson, created dozens of inventions designed to simplify farming on his estate in Virginia. These included the iron plow, the dumbwaiter, a Great Clock, a pasta roller to make macaroni and contributions to early versions of the polygraph machine.

John Hancock was not just a wealthy merchant but also a well-known smuggler. Part of his motivation for the American Revolution was to avoid excessive taxes levied by the British government. He later became a politician in an effort to effect change on a more political and diplomatic level.

Among dozens of other inventions, Benjamin Franklin is the father of insurance in America. In 1752 he co-founded The Philadelphia Contributionship, the first mutual fire insurance company in America. The company was responsible for setting new standards for housing construction to help eliminate fire hazards.

Although the nation has changed in countless ways over the past couple centuries, some of the core values America was founded on remain the same. There are more opportunities than ever available to those who work hard and maintain an entrepreneurial mindset. 

Interested in reading more? Here are some articles that may be of interest to you:

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “George Washington: America’s First Entrepreneur,” from Knowledge@Wharton. April 19, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “After the Boston Massacre, from John Adams Historical Society. 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Thomas Jefferson,” from 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “John Hancock’s Critical Role in the American Revolution,” from January 23, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Company History,” from The Philadelphia Contributionship. 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The History of Insurance in America,” from September 11, 2014.]

Raymond C. Lantz, Jr. is the president and founder of USA Wealth  Group, Inc. Ray has many years of experience advising clients in retirement and sophisticated tax planning strategies, multi-family and commercial real estate projects, and legacy planning. Ray is a graduate of Clark University, holds a law degree from Boston College, and a master of laws in taxation from Boston University. You can hear him every Sunday on Money Wise with  Ray Lantz on WBSM 1420AM or on the Radio Pup app.