James Madison: The Arlen Specter of his times

James Madison is a fascinating figure in our history. He is best known for the large part he played in drafting the constitution and writing the federalist papers. He was also of course, the fourth president of the United States.

When Madison came to the office of president, there were two primary political parties- the Federalists and the Republicans.

In a nut shell, the Federalists tended to think of America as a nation, while Republicans thought of the United States as several more or less autonomous Republics working together for common good. You could say they thought of the U.S. more as a league of states than as a nation.

The Republicans, being for local rule over national, also tended to be against standing armies and a national banking system.

Madison, in trying to drum up support for a national constitution, worked with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton to release the Federalist Papers in New York, writing under the pseudonym Publicus (public man).

The Federalist Papers argued that the articles of confederation were not sufficient for the new nation to handle national defense, taxation issues and internal strife from competing states for what was then the new nation and that a new Constitution was needed to define federal power and offer a national solution to many of the problems the country was facing.

This isn't surprising except for the fact that Madison was a Republican, not a Federalist.

I think that this says a lot about Madison's own philosophy and politics of the time which tended to be more personal and less dogmatic, but that's for another post. It is, however, ironic that the second Republican Virginia Triumvirate member (Jefferson and James Monroe being the others) wrote the most eloquent supporting document for Federalism ever written.

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