November 5, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

James Madison

James Madison

Richard Brookhiser

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0465019838

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


James Madison led one of the most influential and prolific lives in American history, and his story—although all too often overshadowed by his more celebrated contemporaries—is integral to that of the nation. Madison helped to shape our country as perhaps no other Founder: collaborating on the Federalist Papers and the Bill of Rights, resisting government overreach by assembling one of the nation’s first political parties (the Republicans, who became today’s Democrats), and taking to the battlefield during the War of 1812, becoming the last president to lead troops in combat.

In this penetrating biography, eminent historian Richard Brookhiser presents a vivid portrait of the “Father of the Constitution,” an accomplished yet humble statesman who nourished Americans’ fledgling liberty and vigorously defended the laws that have preserved it to this day.

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and loaned him money whenever he needed it. But Madison made the most of the opportunities his situation in life gave him. He wanted to work, and the more he did, the more he was given. During these years, Madison learned still more about working with, and sometimes around, others. Losing a vote was not the same as losing the argument, because if you could then write the guidelines for implementing the decision, you could nudge it in a better direction. Benjamin Franklin, America’s minister to

“Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.” And yet founding a party is exactly what Jefferson and Madison now began to do, while never admitting, even to themselves, quite what they were doing. Soon enough, Hamilton and his allies would found a party of their own, which even Washington ultimately joined, all of them showing the same un-self-awareness. Madison and Jefferson embarked on their undeclared mission in the late spring of 1791. They took a trip through New

violence. Shakespeare’s unique use of it (Henry IV, Part I) describes a rebellion: “pell-mell havoc and confusion.” Republican pêle-mêle seemed disorderly enough to the British minister when he first encountered it. Anthony Merry had been sent to Washington in the fall of 1803. Merry was not some aristocrat marking time in the diplomatic service, but a wine merchant’s son; one American described him as “plain, unassuming and amiable.” But he was also a conventional Englishman, and a conventional

reprinted in newspapers; a rumor even started that, having changed his mind once, he had changed back and opposed the Bank again. Madison never explained why he remained aloof in 1811, so one must guess his reasons. The best guess is that he did not wish to seem inconsistent. But politicians change their minds. Not, one hopes, constantly, nor for light or corrupt reasons, nor (except in remarkable circumstances) on bedrock issues. But politicians do change their minds, and when they do they have

and perhaps the cause of free government.” He wrote with the self-interest of an officeholder and a partisan, but he also offered a précis of the role of parties in a republican system. “There can be no change of administration but by the people. That must be by change of party.” Parties came to power by popular will expressed at the polls, and the Republicans were going to hang on until the people voted them out. Virginians could not accept moving the capital northward. Madison had a personal

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