James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic / Edition 3 available in Paperback
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James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Going into this read my knowledge of Madison was limited to his contribution in moving the nation away from the Articles of Confederation toward the Constitution, his relationship wtih Jefferson, his contentious relationship with Hamilton, and the War of 1812.To me Madison is akin to a pendulum. He swings one direction until something happens that forces his thought process to shift to the opposite direction. We see this in issues like states rights and the validity of a national bank. Rakove explains this by saying Madison was ideological but relied on experience for application. One thing I think Rakove does well is taking us through the evolution of views on separation of church and state. Arriving to the Constitutional Convention, Madison fervetnly believed the ills of the nation can be attributed to the "vicious character of the state government." (pg 49) This completely surprises me since his relationship with Jefferson and the belligerent nature of their relationship with Hamilton is well known. At first glance it appears Madison is initially opposed to strong states' rights, but it really looks as though he is against a strong legislature if there are not adequate checks and balances in place. Even with this caveat, Madison did feel that "a national government could protect individual liberty more readily than an individual state." (pg 56) All the same it is easy to see why Hamilton was completely taken aback by Madison's opposition to Hamiltonian precepts. Some of Rakove's insights that struck me: Perhaps the difference between the nuances and the bold language of the Declaration helps to explain why his (Madison) legacy is more elusive than Jefferson's. Every American knows the key phrases of the Declaration and harbors his or her own interpretation of its promise of equality. Few could confidently quote or explicate Madison's most celebrated passages. In college and even in high school, American might read one or two of Madison's Federalist essays, the Tenth for sure, the Fifty-first if theya re lucky. There they puzzle over the careful distinctions and qualifications that typify his close-grained analysis of the complexities of republican government." (pg 220);"He recognized that people often act out of passion, interest, and uninformed opinion, yet also believed that government must be held accountable to popular control. He worried that individual states would have strong incentives to oppose national measures, yet understood that their autonomy had to be respected. He accepted teh basic premise of majority rule, yet recognized that popular majorities might wield their power to abuse minority and individual rights. He knew, too, taht the existence of chattel slavery in his own native region violated every republican principle he espoused, yet he could not imagine how that society could survivie if slavery were abolished." (pg 221); "Perhaps Madison's deepest legacy for the American constiutional tradition he helped to create lies in his understanding of these two distinct problems of majority power and minority rights...his grasp of what was at stake was both modern and forward-looking...Yet his approach to these problems also had conservative, even reactionary elements" (pg 224); "the commitment to freedom of conscience mattered because it identified one civil right that placed the greatest value on the capacity of ordinary men and women to exercise their sovereign jud