James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 0143127039

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A major new biography of the fourth U.S. president, from New York Times–bestselling author Lynne Cheney

James Madison was a true genius of the early republic, the leader who did more than any other to create the nation we know today. This majestic new biography tells his story.

Outwardly reserved, Madison was the intellectual driving force behind the Constitution. His visionary political philosophy—eloquently presented in the Federalist Papers—was a crucial factor behind the Constitution’s ratification, and his political savvy was of major importance in getting the new government underway. As secretary of state under Thomas Jefferson, he managed the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. As president, Madison led the country in its first war under the Constitution, the War of 1812. Without precedent to guide him, he would demonstrate that a republic could defend its honor and independence while remaining true to its young constitution.

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partridge abounded.5 When the Madisons moved from the president’s house, it was to “Six Buildings,” a row of brick houses on Pennsylvania Avenue where the State Department was temporarily located. Madison was still not feeling well, which probably made living where he worked, at least for a few months, appealing. He arrived at his temporary office to find a nearly overwhelming backlog of work. He apologized to a friend for not answering his letter sooner by explaining that he had found it

reminded her to insure the buildings she was renting out in Philadelphia. For the most part their communications are from one equal to another, but there is a change in Dolley’s tone when she brings up politics. “I wish you would indulge me with some information respecting the war with Spain and disagreement with England,” she wrote. “I am extremely anxious to hear (as far as you may think proper) what is going forward in the cabinet.” Her way of assuring him that she had no intention of becoming

touring the United States, to visit Montpelier, perhaps because they had heard that she admired the former president’s political philosophy, but the fact that she was an abolitionist probably played an important part. Madison did not want to die without making clear that he, too, abhorred slavery, that it was guilty of every evil with which it had ever been charged. Perhaps it was the recent effort of working on his will that made him feel a need to explain himself. Certainly the task was a

Edmund Randolph balked. Hamilton resisted changing the tone of his proposal until Madison took him aside: “You had better yield to this man, for otherwise all Virginia will be against you.” Hamilton listened, toning down his words so that the proposal calmly and respectfully suggested “the appointment of commissioners to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United States [and] to devise such further provisions as shall appear to

on Sunday, and the debate on Monday improved to the extent that no member is recorded as having threatened another’s life. But Antifederalists continued to make motion after motion that they had no hope of winning. Madison let other Federalists answer them—until Thomas Tudor Tucker of South Carolina tried to strike out the proposition that prevented states from infringing upon personal rights. Madison took the floor immediately, saying this was “the most valuable amendment in the whole list,” and

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