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Madison vs. Monroe: The Bill of Rights and the Election that Saved a Nation


Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59698-192-8
Publisher: Regnery History

A fresh, narrow, knowledgeable-of-minutia take on a well-known friendship and rivalry during the early establishment of the U.S. Constitution.

Attorney and political strategist DeRose shifts his focus around James Madison’s forced championing of a Bill of Rights to the Constitution, the contentious Congressional election campaign between fellow Virginians Madison and James Monroe of 1789 and the early influence of the Virginia Plan on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. His depiction of the evolving relationship between the two key Virginians proves a steady, compelling narrative throughout. Several years younger than Madison, the Revolutionary War hero Monroe became Madison’s protégé and correspondent. Madison, a soft-spoken, eloquent landowner and delegate, became the architect of the Constitution. Both men, writes DeRose, proved in separate ways their heartfelt patriotism. At the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Madison helped hammer out a perfect-enough Constitution in order to present to the states, and then—along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay—tried to convince the public of its worth in a series of newspaper essays under the pen name Publius (i.e., The Federalist Papers). Subsequently, Monroe, as a delegate to the Virginia Ratification Convention the next year, presented objections, namely to the lack of controls on the central government and need for preservation of basic rights. In just six months, Madison and Monroe would be battling over election to the first House of Representatives. Madison barely won, largely because of his campaign promise to introduce into the new Congress a Bill of Rights, which he duly did, preempting the anti-Federalists, and thus helping to gain passage for the first 10 amendments by 1791. DeRose maintains that unless Monroe opposed Madison early on, the lack of amendments would have quickly created division and rupture in the new government.

A lively, clear-cut study of the myriad hurdles and uncertainty that characterized the first attempts to form the U.S. government.