Jul 04

James Madison, by Richard Brookhiser ★★★★

I had originally planned on reading Ralph Ketcham’s biography on James Madison, a lengthy and well written document, though written in a very dry fashion. Getting through a few pages of Ketcham’s book, I realized it was not a good “fit” for me, and purchased the biography by Brookhiser. Though Brookhiser shared in Ketcham’s love for dry writing, this was a shorter book and one that I was able to read within the course of a few weeks. Brookhiser offers a very brief summary of Madison’s childhood, how he got involved in politics, and how he developed a life-long friendship with Thomas Jefferson. The details of Madison’s life through the Revolutionary War, and his involvement in the writing of the constitution, as well as his friendship (and loss of friendship) with Alexander Hamilton are mentioned though not developed at any length. There is much discussion as to how James Madison brought the art of politics to the US government, including the development of the political parties and factionalism in government. Madison’s service in Jefferson’s government led to him being promoted to two terms as president of the United States, a presidency best marked by the foolish engagement in war with England, known as the war of 1812. The greatest lesson of the Madison presidency was how incompetent the government was at that time. The government had poor means of taxing citizens, no funds for war, yet voted to go to war with England when entirely unprepared to do so. How the USA survived that episode in its history is nothing short of a miracle. Madison, in the aftermath of his presidency, turns again to writing, while living in his estate at Monticello. He does not present himself as a wizened statesman like Washington or Jefferson, but manages to outlive all the other presidents including his successor, James Monroe. Issues with the supreme court are discussed, but oddly, in the chapter on his post-presidency years. More odd, the most important court decision of his time, Marbury v. Madison, is left unspoken of. The issue of slaves is discussed, this time Brookhiser suggested that Madison’s approach to this difficult issue was to simply ignore it as a problem; Madison did not free his slaves at death.

Brookhiser does not give me a reason to consider Madison as one of the “greats” of the founding fathers. There is nothing peculiar about him, save for his establishment among the elite classes of Virginia. The Madison presidency was a complete disaster, with Madison failing to make good decisions, and ending his life as a near pauper, having poor management of his household economics. What in particular makes James Madison stand above many of the other founding fathers of the USA? This book certainly does not answer that question. It is a brief but lackluster recount of the life of a perhaps great man. Maybe I should have labored through the much lengthier tome by Ketcham?

I will next be reading more on the Indian wars before tackling the life of James Monroe.

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One Response to “James Madison”

  1. Bruder dennis says:

    Perhaps you should read more deeply and less selectively about what was really going on during the 1860s War in America. Here are some hints from a Kremlin report (below),. Why would the Russkies know anything about the War? Read on and find out.

    In the decades following the French invasion of Russia that ignited the Patriotic War of 1812, whose casualties numbered over 1-million, this report notes, in the Russian Empire then had to deploy its powerful war fleets to San Francisco and New York City to protect the United States from being invaded by both France and the British Empire during the American Civil War—a civil war the Americans today lie about and claim was a conflict to free black slaves—but in reality was a conflict whose entire focus was centered on this issue of individual States being able to separate themselves from the Union of States—a fact acknowledged by President Abraham Lincoln, who in his Inaugural Address given on 4 March 1861, declared to the American people: “I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual…Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination”—an “implied perpetuity” of union objected to by the several States that severed themselves from the Union of States to create their own nation called the Confederate States of America—a severing of these States that ignited the American Civil War—and in explaining this conflict to the American people with his open letter written on 22 August 1862, it saw President Lincoln telling them: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it now exists…I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so…My paramount objective is to save the union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery…If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would do it”.

    At the time of this conflict the Russian Empire was ruled over by Tsar Alexander II, who is otherwise known as Alexander the Liberator—a title earned because Tsar Alexander II was enamored by the opening words of the United States Declaration of Independence that say: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”—which is why Tsar Alexander II enacted into law The Emancipation Reform of 1861 that outlawed slavery in the Russian Empire.

    At the same time President Lincoln told the American people that “If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would do it”, this report details, French and British forces were massing in Mexico and Canada to invade the United States and carve it up between them—an invasion that would begin with British naval forces bombarding Boston and New York City—which left the powerful Russian Empire naval fleets of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as the only power on earth able to stop this invasion from occurring—powerful naval forces Tsar Alexander II was prepared to deploy, but only on the condition that President Lincoln freed his nation’s slaves—a condition President Lincoln complied with on 22 September 1862, which was when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves in America—when news reached Tsar Alexander II that this was done, saw him deploying the Russian fleets to protect America.

    Precisely on 24 September 1863, this report notes, the Russian Imperial fleet arrived to New York while another contingent sailed to San Francisco—these fleets remained anchored at these two key port cities for over six months, through April 1864—and on 26 September 1863, the New York Times jubilantly wrote: “The presence of a Russian fleet in the harbor of New York is welcomed by all persons with the greatest pleasure…Five splendid men-of-war, fully manned and in perfect trim, are now lying at anchor in the North River, in full view of our noble harbor”—Russian Admirals had been instructed that should the United States and Russia find themselves at war against Britain or France, the Russian fleet was to submit to President Lincoln’s command to operate together with the United States Navy against their common enemies—and history now records that this move by Tsar Alexander II was: “The clearest possible signal to the British and the French to desist in their plans to intervene militarily in the American Civil War”.

    Security Council Members in this transcript note that this deliberately suppressed true and factual history of how Russia saved the United States and forced President Lincoln to free his nation’s slaves has allowed Supreme Socialist Leader Joe Biden and his godless Democrat Party forces to absurdly claim that Russia is their nation’s enemy—a United States that wouldn’t even exist, as unbeknownst to American people, Russia played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War—first and foremost because Catherine the Great’s position as perhaps the foremost sponsor of ongoing mediations between the European powers and America, that transpired during the war years, ultimately served as a means of legitimizing and rallying support for the American cause, amongst the other European powers.

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