The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 28%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $8.88
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 80%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $8.88   
  • New (6) from $26.98   
  • Used (9) from $8.88   


In recounting the experience of Madison and several of his legatees who witnessed the violent test of whether his republic could endure, this study dramatizes the human side of critical cultural and political issues.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Even though James Madison disliked and publicly condemned slavery, this slave-owning president and Virginia planter does not get high marks from most modern historians for his stance on that issue; indeed, his support for extending slavery into the Western territories has led some critics to call him a pro-slavery expansionist. To Harvard historian McCoy, ``the Sage of Montpelier'' was a prisoner of his republican idealism, tragically tied to the conventions of his native soil. This apologetic, revisionist biographical study will stir up controversy among scholars. For the general reader, its focus on Madison's years of retirement from 1817 until his death in 1836 gives us a prescient sage leery of the ``nullifiers'' who touted states' inherent right to secede from the union. The mature Madison was haunted by the specter of an industrializing society faced with the prospect of mass unemployment and a poor, propertyless class--problems that plague us today. Illustrations. Apr.
Library Journal
McCoy's excellent and richly detailed work picks up where others leave off, at Madison's retirement in 1817. The focus is on Madison 1751-1836, the exponent of an 18th-century ``republican faith'' and his ``persistent effort to comprehend--and influence--the fate of the Revolutionary vision as he encountered both its failures and the shocks of the new era.''Included are Madison's reactions to the Missouri Compromise, the Marshall Court, tariff laws, and the Nullification Crisis of the early 1830s. Though sympathetic, McCoy does not shrink from dealing with Madison's shortcomings. This is especially the case on the issue of slavery, which is exceptionally well handled. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries.-- Roy H. Tyron, South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History, Columbia
Edmund S. Morgan
By focusing on Madison's later years, Drew McCoy has given us a brilliant analysis of Madison's conservatism, and of the way iti operated in his reactions to the issues of his day. More important, he has shown how these issues emerged from the constitution itself, as the conflict it subdued proved too strong to be contained within a political framework… McCoy's book…is not simply a study of America's greatest conservative thinker. It is a searching commentary on the ambiguities in the original constitution of the world's greatest republic.
The New Republic
From the Publisher
"Effectively employing biographical sketches against the background of the republican legacy to reveal a nation losing its way and a Union dividng, McCoy weaves a complex tapestry worthy of study." Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., Constitution

"...excellent and richly detailed work...Though sympathetic, McCoy does not shrink from dealing with Madison's shortcomings. This is especially the case on the issue of slavery, which is exceptionally well handled. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries." Library Journal

"This inquiry into a complex mind and fascinating personality will please any reader looking for a rigorous but perfectly accessible treatment of Madison's accomplishments and contributions." Booklist

"...there's a wholeness that's achieved through McCoy's thorough understanding of the complex details--as well as the implications of the issues he views from Madison's unique perspective." Kirkus Reviews

"What makes this thoroughly researched study all the more enjoyable is McCoy's accomplishment as a biographer. He knows Madison; he is acquainted with the man rather than with an historical figure. As a result, the reader stands beside Madison in two stormy, antebellum decades. One can understand his thinking and anticipate his actions. That is superb historical reporting. Both Madison and McCoy will receive accolades as a result of this new treatment." James Robertson, Richmond News Leader

"...a brilliant analysis of Madison's conservatism, and of the way it operated in his reactions to the issues of his day. More important, he has shown how those issues emerged from the Constitution itself, as the conflicts it subdued grew too strong to be contained within the political framework it furnished...McCoy's sketch of Rives juxtaposed to his analysis of Madison is not a casual epilogue. Nor is his book simply a study of America's greatest conservative thinker. It is a searching commentary on the ambiguities in the original Constitution of the world's greatest republic." Edmund S. Morgan, The New Republic

"...a subtle, shapely and intriguing meditation on Madison's life, personality and political theory." Timothy Foote, Washington Post Book World

"In this brilliantly conceived and original study, McCoy focuses on the last 20 years of James Madison's life. The book superbly illuminates Madison's struggle to straddle two vastly different worlds of political and cultural experience: the neoclassical, republican world of the Founding Fathers and the antebellum society of romantic democracy...The Last of the Fathers adds an important intellectual dimension to all previous biographical studies of Madison and histories of antebellum America. A major work--beautifully written and highly recommended." E. W. Carp, Choice

"A beautifully written, sympathetic biography of Madison in the years after his presidency, Professor McCoy's book is at the same time a penetrating account of the transformation of republican values in the United States in the years between the framing of the Constitution and the advent of Jacksonian democracy." From the John H. Dunning Prize Citation

"Drew McCoy's superb study gives us Madison in his retirement, looking back on these crucial years with the wisdom--and illusions--of his determinedly optimistic old age....McCoy, author of the influential Elusive Republic (1980), makes another valuable contribution here to the ongoing scholarly debate on republicanism, but not at the expense of the general reader....McCoy makes Madison accessible and attractive to modern readers, even while making an important point to his specialist colleagues. McCoy takes brilliant advantage of this quasi-biographical form; his analysis of Madison's reflections in retirement on his achievements as a founder illuminates both periods--and the man." Peter S. Onuf, Journal of the Early Republic

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521407724
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 712,330
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Preface; Prologue; 1. The character of the good statesman; 2. The character of the good republic: justice, stability, and the constitution; 3. Retrospect and prospect: Congress and the perils of popular government; 4. Memory and meaning: nullification and the lost world of the founding; 5. The republic transformed: population, economy, and society; 6. Accommodation: the old dominion; 7. Despair: the peculiar institution; 8. Legacy: the strange career of William Cebell Rives; Epilogue; Acknowledgements; Index.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)