I have finished up reading David Holmes's excellent book Faiths of the Founding Fathers. I appreciated his balance and attention to detail throughout, but I thought that one area of his analysis could have been more precise. He characterizes the major Founders as falling into three basic patterns: orthodox Christians, Christian deists, and non-Christian deists. While this might appear at first blushe to be a good way to categorize the religious views of the major Founders, at the end of the day I don't think it is helpful. While the founding era did contain its deists, the folks that Holmes describes are, for the most part, not really what moderns think of as deists when it comes to questions of theology.
Rather, the vast majority of the Founders were theists. The vast bulk of them believed, for example, in a God who is active in human affairs, who is to be worshipped and prayed to, who will judge each and every person after death, etc. Even the least religious of the major Founders -- Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson -- affirmed such a deity. This isn't a "watchmaker god" or some uninterrested deity a la the Roman philosopher Lucretius.
While there is no question that many of the Founders, and most of the major Founders, eschewed orthodox trinitarianism, their conception of God remained essentially theistic rather than deistic. To continue to refer to them as deists risks confusion in the minds of modern folks -- many of whom do not realize that the unitarian theology of many of the Founders was far more conservative than the term "deism" would indicate.