James Madison Critical Thinking Course

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In the new government Madison was elected to the House of Representatives, where he became its most influential member, drafting the Bill of Rights and supporting legislation that gave strength to the new federal government.

He was a close friend and advisor of George Washington in the first years of his presidency.

With Thomas Jefferson, Madison formed the nation's first political party in the 1790s in opposition to the policies of Alexander Hamilton.

Madison served as secretary of state during Jefferson's presidency and was elected president in 1808.

Madison designed an alternative constitutional framework that would avoid these problems.

Introduced at the Convention by Virginia's delegates, it became known as the Virginia Plan.One colleague described him as "no bigger than half a piece of soap." Almost painfully shy, he had a soft voice and suffered from chronic ill health.Lacking physical charisma, he influenced others primarily by the force of his intellect and his political skills.This lesson examines the legacy of the "philosopher statesman," James Madison.Madison combined the intellectual knowledge and creativity of the scholar with the practical savvy of the politician, a man of strong principles who also realized the value of compromise.Madison's Virginia Plan determined in large measure the direction the Philadelphia Convention would take.It ensured that the work of the delegates would focus not on whether the Articles of Confederation should be replaced, but rather on the composition of the new government to replace it.He researched texts examining every form of government that was known.He summarized his conclusions in two papers, one on "Ancient and Modern Confederations," the other on "Vices of the Political System of the United States." From his studies and his own experience in government, Madison concluded that a confederated form of government would not work and that small-scale republics had inherent shortcomings because of their size.Madison's views, however, did not always prevail at the Convention.Of the seventy-one suggestions he proposed or supported, forty were voted down.


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