Haunted Philosophe

Overview

James Madison was a man of the Enlightenment and a believer in progress. He viewed America's Revolution as not simply a breaking away from the despotic British Empire, but a breaking away from the Old World monarchial system represented by that empire. He saw the American Revolution as a process whereby man was trying to become free. Although he used Christian vocabulary in his writing, there is in his correspondence an indication of a shift from a Christian kind of mental framework to a Deism common to ...

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Overview

James Madison was a man of the Enlightenment and a believer in progress. He viewed America's Revolution as not simply a breaking away from the despotic British Empire, but a breaking away from the Old World monarchial system represented by that empire. He saw the American Revolution as a process whereby man was trying to become free. Although he used Christian vocabulary in his writing, there is in his correspondence an indication of a shift from a Christian kind of mental framework to a Deism common to Enlightenment philosophes. While Madison's papers lack a sense that salvation would come through Christ, they are marked by a strong sense of salvation from republicanism. Madison's republicanism meant a rejection of monarchy and aristocracy as found in Europe, territorial expansion with the spread of freedom, and a transmuted version of John Winthrop's Puritan vision—instead of a new Israel, America would be an example of freedom to the rest of the world. The British were enemies to the republican vision—ideological enemies whose opposition to France showed them to be enemies of liberty and even of human nature itself. Meanwhile, Madison saw France as carrying the torch of liberty and following the admirable lead of the United States. Madison's sense of the progress of freedom was international in scope. Madison believed republicanism would free mankind from the shackles of the past, implying that universal peace might come through government of the people. The chief problem with this vision was slavery, which he saw as hypocritical in a republic, since republicanism was supposed to bring justice. A tension in his ideology came to the surface in a tangible historical context, Madison being a slave-owner himself. He wanted to believe in progress, but was haunted by Christianity, especially Calvinism, for this worldview allowed that no structural arrangements could solve the problem of sin.

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Editorial Reviews

The Historian
An excellent introduction to some fascinating aspects of Madison's thought.
Dale H. Crouthamel
No one interested in the founding fathers of our country will be able to put this work down. The theme is timely and the text well written. I would hope teachers of early American history would adopt this text as a supplement both on the college and seminary level.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739121740
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott J. Kester is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Table of Contents Chapter 2 Introduction: James Madison in His Context Part 3 I Religion Chapter 4 1 Madison, Christianity, and Deism Chapter 5 2 Madison's Concern for Religious Freedom and a Separation of Church and State Part 6 II Madison's Republicanism Chapter 7 3 Republicanism vs. Monarchy and Aristocracy Chapter 8 4 Manifest Destiny Chapter 9 5 American Exceptionalism Chapter 10 6 The British and the French and American Politics Chapter 11 7 Religious Republicanism Part 12 III Slavery and the Limits of Madison's Vision Chapter 13 8 Madison's Ideological Conflict over Slavery Chapter 14 9 Law and Justice Chapter 15 Conclusion Chapter 16 Bibliography

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