Authoritative account of the public career of James Madison (1751–1836).
Son of a wealthy Virginia planter, Madison missed out on the American Revolution due to illness but played critical roles in the shaping of the new nation. Besides working to remake monarchical Virginia into a republican society, he helped form the continental coalition that sent delegates from 12 states to Philadelphia for the Federal Convention in 1787. Short, cerebral and soft-spoken, he combined the strengths of a diligent scholar and an informed politician, bringing his studies of ancient and modern governments to bear as a leader in the movement to ratify the constitution. Gutzman (History/Western Connecticut State Univ.; The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, 2007, etc.) draws on primary sources to portray Madison as an adept nation-builder who drafted the Bill of Rights and fought for a strong federal government and the free exercise of religion. As co-author with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay of The Federalist editorials, he argued vehemently for ratification of the Constitution, often noting the applicability of historical lessons to present circumstances. “Every person seems to acknowledge his greatness,” said a fellow convention delegate. Gutzman analyzes Madison’s contributions to The Federalist Papers, notably his “ingenious” call for ratification in Federalist No. 10, his steps to guarantee religious freedom in Virginia and his important role as a close advisor to President George Washington. With the War of 1812, he became the nation’s first war-time president. His outgoing, politically connected wife Dolley Madison (“the Presidentess”) fostered the Washington social whirl, including the tradition of the Inaugural Ball.
A well-considered and -written biography of this gifted Founding Father’s many contributions to the early republic.