James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 0143127039

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A major new biography of the fourth U.S. president, from New York Times–bestselling author Lynne Cheney

James Madison was a true genius of the early republic, the leader who did more than any other to create the nation we know today. This majestic new biography tells his story.

Outwardly reserved, Madison was the intellectual driving force behind the Constitution. His visionary political philosophy—eloquently presented in the Federalist Papers—was a crucial factor behind the Constitution’s ratification, and his political savvy was of major importance in getting the new government underway. As secretary of state under Thomas Jefferson, he managed the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. As president, Madison led the country in its first war under the Constitution, the War of 1812. Without precedent to guide him, he would demonstrate that a republic could defend its honor and independence while remaining true to its young constitution.

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carefully observed; but I am under a necessity of spending much more than I was apprehensive, for the purchasing of every small trifle which I have occasion for consumes a much greater sum than one wou[ld] suppose.”48 In the end, Madison might have decided that not only was he smart enough to shorten his time at Princeton but doing so was a way to save his father money. After receiving a promise from the faculty that if he did all the work of two years in one, he could graduate early, he began,

to make it into a political liability. Officeholders, just like those they represented, were expected to get sick. The great Washington, after all, had nearly died of pneumonia during his first term in office. John Adams was known to collapse and once lay in a coma for five days. Jefferson’s headaches could put him out of commission for weeks. Sickness was also the shadow of death, and few were the families that had not lost a spouse or child. Martha Washington had been a widow when she married

been taken prisoner were tomahawked and burned alive. “Remember the Raisin” became a powerful cry for rallying war spirit along the frontier.7 Stephen Van Rensselaer, a militia major general, opened a second front along the Canadian frontier by ordering troops across the Niagara River, where they captured Queenston Heights, but when Rensselaer ordered militia to reinforce the position, they refused to leave American territory. The result was the subsequent loss of the heights and the killing,

September 13, the British fleet began bombarding Fort McHenry, trying to silence the guns protecting Baltimore’s harbor. All day and night they pounded the fort, firing cannon and Congreve rockets, but the next morning, the flag of the United States was still aloft. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Georgetown, had approached the British about freeing an American prisoner, Dr. William Beanes, and thus was aboard a British ship to witness “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” and “by

delegate Abraham Baldwin had a public change of heart. He had been born and educated in Connecticut and had spent more of his adult life there than in Georgia. He had apparently become convinced that the delegation of his native state was right to seek compromise, because he voted for Ellsworth’s motion, moving Georgia from support of the large states to a divided position. The result was a tie vote: five ayes, five nays, and one state divided.35 Delegates jumped to their feet, urging that the

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