Madison: Who should vote?

Madison said that if he thought it would be acceptable to the people when asked to ratify the Constitution, he would favor a freehold requirement [for the right to vote]. "The freeholders of the Country," he held, "would be the safest depositories of Republican liberty." Elaborating on this insight in a characteristically gloomy way, Madison went on: "In future times a great majority of the people will not only be without landed, but without any sort of, property. These will either combine under the influence of their common situation; in which case the rights of property & the public liberty, will not be secure in their hands: or which is more probable, they will become the tools of opulence & ambition, in which case there will be equal danger on another side." -- Kevin Gutzman, James Madison and the Making of America, p. 116

NOTE: when I dictated this passage, Siri wrote: "Elaborating on this insight in a Characteristically Gloomy Way..."

I guess she thought that "Characteristically Gloomy Way" was a street address. It is probably right next to "Morose Circle" and "Suicidal Depression Boulevard."

8 comments:

  1. "In future times a great majority of the people will not only be without landed, but without any sort of, property."

    He was glaringly wrong there. I wonder what being without "any sort of property" would even look like.

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    1. "He was glaringly wrong there."

      Nope. If he were alive today, he would be saying, "Yes, just as I predicted."

      If you can't try to sympathetically imagine what a writer is talking about, you will continually grossly misinterpret what they are saying.

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    2. I would say that Madison is ultimately talking about rights, not property per se.

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  2. "Nope. If he were alive today, he would be saying, 'Yes, just as I predicted.'"

    How so? Would he mean the corporations?

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    1. You have to realize he is a classical republican. In classical republicanism, the key to being a solid citizen is independence. So property means property that supports you: a farm, a shop, a merchant vessel, or workshop. This made one independent, not beholden to a "master" (or employer) and capable of exercising citizenship.

      Madison knew everyone who have a shirt and a pair of trousers.

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    2. Why can't an Exxon employee exercise citizenship?

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  3. Scineram, *I* I'm not saying that an Exxon employee could or couldn't. But Madison, as a classical republican, would not think he would do so well, as he lacks economic independence.

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  4. You say that James Madison was a classical republican. Was he also a classical liberal?

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