Founding Fathers are persons instrumental not only in the establishment (founding) of a political institution, but also in the origination of the idea of the institution. It is applied especially to those men involved with the creation and early development of the United States of America, such as the signers of its Declaration of Independence and the framers of its Constitution, in which case it refers to such individuals as George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. But it can be applied to other countries as well.
The ideas of the Founding Fathers of the United States were heavily influenced by the European Enlightenment and their precursors of Polish brethren. The very concept is analogous to the concept of the Church fathers.
Some modern Americans regard the term "Founding Fathers" as sexist, because it diminishes the important role of women in the founding of the American Republic. For this reason, some have begun using the politically correct term "Framers of the Republic," or simply "Framers." However, the term "Founding Fathers" is accurate as far as it goes, since the groups it has been used to refer to have been all male. Also, the alternate term does not capture the full meaning, and unintentionally demeans the achievements of the Founding Fathers since they did much more than "frame."
See also: Father of the Nation