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Lift your lamp beside the golden door, Break not the golden rule, avoid well the golden calf, know; not all that glitters is gold, and laissez faire et laissez passer [let do and let pass] but as a shining sentinel, hesitate not to ring the bell, defend the gates, and man the wall

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Friday, October 22, 2010

James Madison



"Father of the Constitution"

Madison, one of the more outspoken members of the Continental Congress, was nevertheless a shy man; he  protested the title "Father of the Constitution" as being "a credit to which I have no claim... The Constitution was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands".

When Madison returned to the Virginia state legislature, at the close of the Revolutionary War, he grew alarmed at the fragility of the Articles of Confederation, especially the divisiveness of state governments, and strongly advocated a new constitution.

To encourage ratification of the Constitution, Madison joined Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers in 1787 and 1788.

In Virginia in 1788, Madison led the Federalist cause at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, debating with Patrick Henry and others who sought revisions (such as the Bill of Rights) before its ratification.
Initially Madison "adamantly maintained ... that a specific bill of rights remained unnecessary because the Constitution itself was a bill of rights." 

Madison had three main objections to a specific bill of rights:
1. It was unnecessary, since it purported to protect against powers that the federal government had not been granted; 
2. It was dangerous, since enumeration of some rights might be taken to imply the absence of other rights; and
3. At the state level, bills of rights had proven to be useless paper barriers against government powers.
The plainly protective Amendments 9 and 10 leave little doubt as to the failings inherent in Republican Govt. that of lapsed vigilance; the Amendments thereby, I believe, surely better protected but never wholly so there-against.

However, the anti-Federalists demanded a bill of rights in exchange for their support for ratification.

In A Letter to Thomas Jefferson on a Bill of Rights October 17, 1788 [Link] Madison wrote:
"My own opinion has always been in favor of a bill of rights; provided that it be so framed as not to imply powers not meant to be included in the enumeration. At the same time I have never thought the omission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment, for any other reason than that it is anxiously desired by others. I have favored it because I suppose it might be of use, and if properly executed could not be of disservice."
and towards the end of it-
 "I am inclined to think that absolute restrictions in cases that are doubtful, or where emergencies may overrule them, ought to be avoided. The restrictions however strongly marked on paper will never be regarded when opposed to the decided sense of the public, and after repeated violations in extraordinary cases they will lose even their ordinary efficacy."
He wrote Hamilton at the New York ratifying convention, stating his opinion that "ratification was in toto and 'for ever'"[1]. The Virginia convention had considered conditional ratification worse than a rejection.

People submitted more than 200 proposals from across the new nation. Madison ignored proposals that called for structural change to the government and synthesized the remainder into a list for the protection of civil rights, such as free speech, right of the people to bear arms, and habeas corpus. 
  
On June 8, 1789, Madison submitted his proposal [a package of twelve amendments to the Constitution] to Congress.  

Madison's preemptive proposal 
Prior to listing his proposals for a number of constitutional amendments, Madison acknowledged a major reason for some of the discontent with the Constitution as written:
"I believe that the great mass of the people who opposed [the Constitution], disliked it because it did not contain effectual provision against encroachments on particular rights, and those safeguards which they have been long accustomed to have interposed between them and the magistrate who exercised the sovereign power: nor ought we to consider them safe, while a great number of our fellow citizens think these securities necessary."
In his speech to Congress on that day, Madison said:
"For while we feel all these inducements to go into a revisal of the constitution, we must feel for the constitution itself, and make that revisal a moderate one. I should be unwilling to see a door opened for a re-consideration of the whole structure of the government, for a re-consideration of the principles and the substance of the powers given; because I doubt, if such a door was opened, if we should be very likely to stop at that point which would be safe to the government itself: But I do wish to see a door opened to consider, so far as to incorporate those provisions for the security of rights, against which I believe no serious objection has been made by any class of our constituents." 
"[Madison introduced] amendments culled mainly from state constitutions and state ratifying convention proposals, especially Virginia's [2]." -Leonard W. Levy "Origins of the Bill of Rights" 'New Haven: Yale University Press' (1999) ISBN 0-300-08901-5, p.35
Patrick Henry persuaded the Virginia legislature not to elect Madison as one of their first Senators; but Madison was directly elected to the new United States House of Representatives and became an important leader from the First Congress (1789) through the Fourth Congress (1797).

By 1791, ten of Madison's proposed amendments were ratified and became the Bill of Rights. Contrary to his wishes, the Bill of Rights was not integrated into the main body of the Constitution, and it did not apply to the states until the passages of Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments restricted the powers of the states. The Second Amendment originally proposed by Madison (but not then ratified: see United States Bill of Rights [Link] ) was later ratified in 1992 as the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. The remaining proposal was intended to accommodate future increase in members of the House of Representatives. 

[1] "in toto" def. - Totally; altogether 
[2] Article 13 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights


Quotes


"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." -James Madison, Federalist 51 - http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa51.htm

"All men are entitled to the full and free excercise of religion" - James Madison, May 1776

"better proof ofreverence for that holy name wouldbe not to profane it by making it a topic of legislative discussion." -James Madison's response to attempts to insert "JesusChrist"'s name into the Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty


"Belief in a God All powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the Worldand happiness of man, that arguments to enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources."

"It is impossible fortheman of pious reflection not to percieve in [the convention] a finger of that Almighty hand."

"You give me a credit to which I have no claim, in calling me "The writer of the Constitution of the U.S." This was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads & many hands. Your criticism on the "Collocation of books in the Library of our University, may not be without foundation. But the doubtful boundary between some subjects, and the mixture of different subjects in the same works, necessarily embarrass the task of classification" -In a Letter to William Cogswell



Books



94-95  
96-97








 



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98-99
100-101



 






   
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102-103

104-105










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Madison and Hamilton, Party and Powers pg122-124


















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Madison and the Bill of Rights pg 124-125

"All men are entitled to the full and free excercise of religion"

"better proof ofreverence for that holy name wouldbe not to profane it by making it a topic of legislative discussion." -James Madison's response to attempts to insert "JesusChrist"'s name into the Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty


"Belief in a God All powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the Worldand happiness of man, that arguments to enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources."


"It is impossible fortheman of pious reflection not to percieve in [the convention] a finger of that Almighty hand."



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