|Key to Brief Citations||xix|
|Introduction: The Problem||1|
|I.||Pre-presidential Years (1751-1809)||9|
|1.||Before the Constitution (1751-1785)||11|
|2.||The Constitution (1786-1788)||24|
|3.||Three Administrations (1789-1809)||38|
|II.||The Presidency: First Term (1809-1813)||57|
|4.||Policy and Personnel (1809)||59|
|5.||Domestic Affairs: The Partisans (1809-1816)||68|
|6.||Foreign Affairs: Suckered Twice (1809-1810)||80|
|7.||Maneuvering into War (1811-1812)||89|
|8.||To Conquer Canada (1812)||97|
|9.||Frigates and a Fresh Start (1812)||106|
|III.||The Presidency: Second Term (1813-1817)||119|
|10.||Peace Overtures and Professionalism (1813-1814)||121|
|11.||Washington and Baltimore (1814)||132|
|12.||Maneuvering Out of War (1814-1815)||142|
|13.||Assessing the Presidency (1815-1817)||153|
|Epilogue: The Legacy||161|
James Madison (American Presidents Series) / Edition 1by Garry Wills
Pub. Date: 04/02/2002
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
The eternal conundrum about James Madison -- a key framer of the U.S. Constitution, a formidable political figure, and a man of penetrating analytical intellect and tremendous foresight -- is why, when he became chief executive, did he steer the ship of state with such an unsteady hand? Why was this man, whose pre- and post-presidential careers contributed so significantly to the future course of American political history, so lackluster and ineffectual in his tenure as president?
In this concise and marvelously readable examination of Madison's life and career, the renowned historian Garry Wills outlines the confluence of unfortunate circumstance, misplaced temperament, and outright poor judgment that bogged down Madison's presidency. Though a brilliant theoretician and effective legislator and collaborator, he was not a natural leader of men, and the absence of leadership was keenly felt during wartime. In fact, the War of 1812 was the first foreign war fought under the Constitution, and Madison was forced to adjust many of the assumptions he had made during the drafting of that document. He had to confront hard, practical issues such as public morale, internal security, relations with Congress, and the independence of the military. Though now remembered in part for fleeing the capital as it was under siege, Madison saw his administration come to a close with his popularity on the rise.
Madison's later life, neatly traced by Wills, was also of consequence. For two decades after he left office, he remained tightly bound to the political life of the nation, happily playing the role of popular elder statesman, curiously prefiguring so many of our recent presidents.
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This book "James Madison" (as well as the others in "The American President Series") does not pretend to be an all inclusive biography. Rather, its purpose is to focus on the presidential years of James Madison. Garry Wills effectively accomplishes this by dividing the book into three parts. The first third of the book focuses on Madison the man including his many roles and accomplishments prior to assuming the presidency in 1809. Wills effectively gives the reader an understanding of Madison's personality, strengths, and weaknesses. This introduction is the framework for the next two sections - divided by terms of office. Wills' organization and presentation of the material is highly effective. His writing style makes the reading enjoyable. The reader is left with a satisfaction of knowing a bit more about one of our founding fathers but also with a thirst for learning more. One suspects that the purpose of the series is to stimulate greater interest in each president and period of U.S. history. To that end, Gary Wills succeeds admirably.