The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President

Random. Oct. 2017. 800p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780812992755. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780679643845. BIOG
James Madison (1751-1836) was instrumental in framing the constitutional government that serves the American people today, with his efforts at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Madison ended the "Genius" phase of his political life, as Feldman (law, Harvard Univ.; Cool War) labels it, by successfully persuading his fellow Virginians to ratify the new form of government at a critical point in the process. The politician was prepared to retire until he saw his concept of republican government threatened; he entered the second phase of his political life as a partisan, representing a Virginia district in the First Congress. Here, he became increasingly adept at practicing politics while becoming political enemies with Alexander Hamilton, a former partner in ratifying the U.S. Constitution. Madison viewed Hamilton's political ideas as threats to true republican government. It led him, along with Thomas Jefferson, to form the first political party (Democratic-Republican). In his third political life, as Jefferson's secretary of state and later as president, Madison tried to remain faithful to his ideals.
VERDICT Based on primary and secondary sources, this is an insightful examination on how theories and ideals are applied and changed by real-life circumstances. [See Prepub Alert, 4/17/17.]

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