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Monday, December 10, 2012

Whew! Finally Done with Madison and Jefferson!

The authors reach a number of interesting conclusions, for which their evidence is quite convincing. Amongst them: Madison and Jefferson should really be regarded as different but equal personalities in the founding period, in contrast to the more common view that treats Madison as Jefferson’s lieutenant. Both men were primarily politicians rather than political theorists: the political theorizing they did was to support their political positions. And that point leads to the next: Madison’s position on constitutional interpretation was whatever it needed to be to advance his political goals: the constitutional views on display in The Federalist are only a small portion of his written output, and later, in the dispute over the Jay Treaty, he took a quite different view: “The only way to appreciate Madison’s constitutional thinking is to measure comprehensible changes in his view in response to specific political problems” (p. 641). (I’m pretty sure “measurable” is being used metaphorically here.)

4 comments:

  1. It might be the canuck perspective, but I have always thought Madison underrated, and fundamentally more important than Jefferson, at least as far as the period to 1800 goes. The Louisiana Purchase is pretty big. I might be prejudiced though, as I rather dislike TJ. On the other hand 1812 was Mr Madison's War.

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  2. > common view that treats Madison and Jefferson’s lieutenant.

    I think there's a typo there. Maybe *as* J's lieutenant? (not sure)

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  3. > common view that treats Madison and Jefferson’s lieutenant.

    I think there's a typo there. Maybe *as* J's lieutenant? (not sure)

    ReplyDelete