Author of Federalist essays, fourth President of the United States
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  • James Madison

    James Madison Jr. (16 March 1751 – 28 June 1836) was an American statesman and Founding Father who served as the fourth President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.


    Madison, James (1750-1836), by Michael Zuckert, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    "James Madison is probably best known as the 'father of the constitution,' but he also had a distinguished career in politics both before and after the Constitutional Convention of 1787. As leader of the House of Representatives in the first years under the new U.S. Constitution, he authored and secured the passage of the Bill of Rights; he went on to become Secretary of State in the Jefferson administration, and he succeeded Jefferson as president in 1809. Nonetheless, his fame and lasting importance rest largely on the political analyses and innovations that he developed at the time of the movement for a new constitution and Bill of Rights."
    Related Topics: Government, Rights


    16 Mar 1751, in Port Conway, Virginia


    28 Jun 1836, in Montpelier, Virginia


    Avalon Project - Jefferson's Autobiography, 29 Jul 1821
    Covering the period from 1743 (his childhood, with background on his parents) to 1790 (shortly after his return from Paris and before assuming his office as U.S. Secretary of State); written during 6 Jan-29 July 1821
    "Mr. Madison came into the House in 1776. a new member and young; which circumstances, concurring with his extreme modesty, prevented his venturing himself in debate before his removal to the Council of State in Nov. 77. From thence he went to Congress, then consisting of few members. Trained in these successive schools, he acquired a habit of self-possession which placed at ready command the rich resources of his luminous and discriminating mind, & of his extensive information, and rendered him the first of every assembly afterwards of which he became a member."
    Dangers of No Tax Liability, by Walter E. Williams, 13 Sep 2004
    Comments on a study estimating that 44% of income earners will have no federal income tax liability, suggests a politically incorrect solution and reflects on Madison's concerns about class warfare between the rich and the poor
    "James Madison's concern about class warfare between the rich and the poor led him to favor the House of Representatives being elected by the people at large and the Senate elected by property owners. He said, 'It is nevertheless certain, that there are various ways in which the rich may oppress the poor; in which property may oppress liberty; and that the world is filled with examples. It is necessary that the poor should have a defense against the danger. On the other hand, the danger to the holders of property cannot be disguised, if they be undefended against a majority without property.'"
    Related Topic: Taxation
    Empire or Liberty: The Antifederalists and Foreign Policy, 1787-1788 [PDF], by Jonathan Marshall, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1980
    Describes the arguments regarding foreign policy made during the period of ratification of the United States Constitution by the Federalists and the counterarguments, "largely ignored" by historians, from the Antifederalists
    "James Madison, whose penetrating insights into political philosophy won him the title of 'father of the Constitution,' became convinced at least as early as 1785 that Congress alone should have the power to control trade ... Madison similarly believed that 'the subject of direct taxation is perhaps one of the most important that can possibly engage our attention' because of its bearing on national defense. ... Madison extended his portrayal of these hypothetical dangers by describing, with ironic prescience, the series of events that indeed did lead to war in 1812."
    James Madison: Father of the Implied-Powers Doctrine, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Jul 2013
    Examines whether James Madison intended the U.S. federal government to have "expressly delegated" powers vs. "powers by implication"
    "James Madison famously wrote in Federalist 45: 'The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined.' ... Some people will be surprised to learn that the author of the Constitution was also the author of the implied-powers doctrine, which would seem to run counter to the few-and-defined-powers doctrine. ... As his biographer, Ralph Ketcham, wrote, 'Madison sought as well to make the mode of enforcement explicit: Congress was authorized "to employ the force of the United States as well by sea as by land" to compel obedience to its resolves.'"
    James Madison - Hero of the Day, by Timothy Sandefur, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
    "James Madison ... is not the sort of man one would expect to be an American hero. But this 'Father of the Constitution,' the first elder statesman in America, was a champion of individualism and limited government until the end of his long life. ... Madison headed the movement to revise the Articles of Confederation. Before the 1787 convention began, he locked himself away with a library of books on political theory and history in order to be fully prepared for his task. At the convention he became not only the most active member but also its most thorough secretary, recording every speech given by every delegate."
    Related Topic: Thomas Jefferson
    Locke Mess, by Loren E. Lomasky, Reason, Jan 1996
    Review of the book Passions and Constraint: On the Theory of Liberal Democracy by Stephen Holmes
    "Who, though, is this self-binder and self-ruler? It is, says Holmes, the citizenry. But that is not what Madison is saying here; indeed, it is diametrically opposed to Madison's point. In the cited passage he is intent to distinguish sharply between the people who establish through their consent the constitutional constraints under which they will be ruled and the government that subsequently exercises that rule. ... For Madison as for Plato before him, the question 'Who will guard the guardians?' is central to the craft of political construction."
    Related Topic: John Locke
    Machiavelli and U.S. Politics, Part 4: War, by Lawrence M. Ludlow, 22 Aug 2005
    Part of a six-segment series examining The Prince vis-à-vis contemporary U.S. politics; this article covers Machiavelli's simple advice on war and contrasts it with that of James Madison and Robert Higgs in Crisis and Leviathan
    "In contrast, James Madison, fourth president of the United States and author of the U.S. Constitution, enumerated the many evils caused by war ... In taking this stance, Madison echoed the sentiments of John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and George Washington. Moreover, at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Madison warned us against the dangers of a standing army: 'A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. ...'"
    Remembering James Madison, by John Samples, 16 Mar 2016
    Written on the 265th anniversary of Madison's birth, discusses some of his ideas about republican government, as expressed in the Federalist no. 10, and contrasts them with the current political scene
    "James Madison was born 265 years ago today. His greatest essay was Federalist no. 10, a defense of the design of the government created by the new Constitution. ... Madison favored republican government - government by the people - but he also saw its problems. ... Madison thought some of the flaws of popular government could be mitigated by indirect rule of the people through representatives 'whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country.' ... Madison thought the Constitution set out a kind of republican government that would stand the test of time."
    That Mercantilist Commerce Clause, by Sheldon Richman, 11 May 2007
    Reviews the Oct 2004 paper "The Panda's Thumb: The Modest and Mercantilist Original Meaning of the Commerce Clause" by law professor Calvin Johnson
    "James Madison asked, '[W]as it not an acknowledged object of the Convention, and the universal expectation of the people, that the regulation of trade should be submitted to the general government in such a form as would render it an immediate source of general revenue?' ... Johnson comments: 'Indeed, given that Madison had condemned those who advocated free trade and had traced most of our political and moral errors to the imports that drained us of our precious metals, the insincere part of Madison's 1789 address to the House was the opening claim that he was "the friend to a very free system of commerce."'"
    Related Topics: Commerce Clause, Taxation
    The Constitution or Liberty, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Sep 2012
    Contrasts Article II of the Articles of Confederation with the Tenth Amendment and Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and discusses the implied powers of the latter document (revised version of article published 7 Dec 2007)
    "The most significant difference is that Article II qualifies the word delegated with expressly. The Tenth Amendment does not. The difference was no oversight. When a member of Congress proposed insertion of that word, James Madison objected, arguing that any constitution must have implied powers. (How many of today's constitutionalists realize that Madison was an early proponent of the implied-powers doctrine?) ... Jefferson and Madison disagreed. See Federalist 41 by Madison, keeping in mind that the Federalist Papers were essentially ad copy for the Constitution and against the Anti-federalist opposition."
    The Constitution Within, by Sheldon Richman, 18 Aug 2006
    Questions the validity of constitutions by relating how James Madison behaved during the debates over the U.S. document and later his introduction in Congress of the amendments that would become the Bill of Rights
    "... Madison made a revealing statement during the debate on what would become the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. ... In light of Madison's plea that 'there must necessarily be admitted powers by implication,' what are we to make of his famous line in Federalist 45 that 'The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined'? ... which counts more: what was said during deliberations over the text or what was said in newspaper articles designed to win public support for the Constitution? Is Madison a reliable ally to be cited with confidence?"
    The Failed Attempt to Leash the Dogs of War, by Bart Frazier, Future of Freedom, Dec 2006
    Discusses provisions of the Constitution that were meant to prevent the United States from having a large, permanent military and becoming involved in warfare at the will of a single person
    "The men who drafted the Constitution knew war well. ... They were also educated in the history of government. James Madison in particular was a scholar of past governments and the effects that warfare had had upon them. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Madison lamented the problems in creating a government that protected the country from invasion yet maintained a proper respect for individual liberty ... And Madison knew that of all the calamities that can befall a country, nothing could be more detrimental to the freedom of the citizenry than warfare."
    The War of 1812 Was the Health of the State, Part 2, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Mar 2015
    Discusses how James Madison's conduct of the War of 1812 led to changes in American attitudes, including mercantilism, militarism, imperialism and centralization
    "As the War of 1812 with Great Britain approached during the Republican administration of James Madison, the War Hawks saw silver linings everywhere. ... Madison himself famously said that war contained the 'germ' of 'all the enemies to public liberty.' ... However, imperial chickens eventually come home to roost, and Madison indisputably reinforced the imperial course of his predecessors. ... Moreover, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel writes, Madison proposed conscription — only the war's end prevented this from happening — and later a peacetime standing army to the Congress."
    What This Country Needs Is A Good, Old-Fashioned Constitutional Crisis, by Gary North, 7 Dec 2000
    Discusses the attempts by Al Gore to annul Florida's Electoral College votes in the 2000 U.S. presidential election and the benefits of the resulting crisis if the Florida legislature were to act to name the electors (as provided for in the Constitution)
    "Almost four decades ago, I heard a speech by the conservative political philosopher, Wilmoore Kendall. He said in that speech that Madison had wanted a provision in the Constitution that a three-quarters vote by both houses of Congress, plus the President's signature, would overturn a ruling by the Supreme Court. I have never found evidence that Madison wanted this, or even worried about it, but it sure sounds to me like a reasonable provision. It would keep final civil sovereignty from being lodged in any single earthly assembly — a provision against tyranny if there ever was one."


    The Most Dreaded Enemy of Liberty, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, 20 Apr 1795
    From a longer essay titled "Political Observations", the selected passage reflects on the nature of war and the provisions in the U. S. Constitution about declaring war, conducting war and raising armies
    "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people."

    The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "James Madison" as of 20 Jul 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.