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If Men Were Angels: James Madison and the Heartless Empire of Reason Hardcover – January 18, 1995
"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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T.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"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."
The author is right about one thing, and one thing only. Madison was a consistent liberal. However, only in the 19th century definition of that word, which meant a very limited and constrained government, and a maximum of personal liberty. The belief that government power and personal liberty are not at odds is something only an irrational person could possibly believe.