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James Madison: A book review

February 8, 2012
Charles G. Mills, Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation

For anyone who wants to understand the history of the American political system, Richard Broookhiser’s James Madison (Basic Books, hardcover, 304 pages, 2011), a biography of our nation’s fourth president, is necessary reading. It is concise and thorough enough for the beginner, with depths of research that will offer even seasoned historians new insights.

During his lifetime, Madison was regarded as the father of the Constitution. He was one of the original proponents of a Constitutional Convention. When the Convention was held, he was the first to arrive, and he would turn out to be one of the only two members with perfect attendance. He was also one of three final draftsmen of the Constitution; one of three authors of its most important defenses, The Federalist Papers; and he was the final drafters of the congressionally proposed Bill of Rights.

Mr. Brookhiser also explains Madison’s central role in laying out the groundwork for America’s two-party system, and how this cost him the friendship of Washington, a painful loss to Madison. He describes Constitutionalism as the living monument all around us to Madison.

Madison could be inconsistent. He opposed a bill of rights but then drafted one, and he opposed a national bank but then supported one. There were certain issues on which he never deviated, however, including religious liberty, freedom of the press, and westward expansion.

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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