James Madison and Political Parties

Exploring Madison’s greatest fear about the future of the Republic he did so much to shape: the problem of factions. As the convention at Philadelphia wrapped up on September 17, 1787 there was no fist-pumping. Benjamin Franklin was supposedly asked what sort of government the delegates had invented, a monarchy or a republic. The 81-year-old[…]

James Madison and the Origins of Partisanship in the United States

Critics argue that Congress has become the “broken branch” of government, marked by extreme partisanship and few achievements. They prescribe nostrums ranging from campaign finance regulation to redistricting reform to foster compromise rather than conflict on Capitol Hill. Yet the American founders, especially James Madison, believed “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” as a way[…]

James Madison’s Last Stand

Madison was deeply concerned with tyranny. Recent events–from Black Lives Matter protests, to a show trial for an impeached president, to the mismanaged spread of COVID-19, to Stormtrooper-like tactics in American cities—demonstrate that liberal democracy is under siege. To better understand this unique moment in the history of this worldview, a brief look at its[…]

James Madison’s Role in Ratifying the Constitution and Adopting the Bill of Rights

Examining the most significant Madison holographs related to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Madison’s Family Tree According to the editors of his papers, James Madison prepared this family tree between 1813 and 1819. His father, James Madison, Sr. (1723-1801), and his mother, Nelly Conway Madison (1732-1829), were married[…]

Almost 12: The Bill of Rights – James Madison’s Two Failed Amendments

James Madison proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution, but only 10 were approved. When the Constitutional Convention sent the proposed Constitution to the states for ratification, Anti-Federalists voiced strong objections to it, especially criticizing the strength it invested in the national government and its lack of explicit protections for the rights of individuals. Politicians in[…]

James Madison on Slavery and the Electoral College

The Electoral College may not have been expressly designed only to protect African slavery, but based on Madison’s notes, it was the mode most preferred by pro-slavery forces. Sean Wilentz, Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of the American Revolutionary Era at Princeton University, just announced in a New York Times op-ed that he retracted his earlier opinion[…]