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James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights (Pivotal Moments in American History) Hardcover – July 4, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Labunski details the period from the writing of the Constitution to its ultimate acceptance from a group of states that had yet to feel any real national cohesiveness. As such, when it was sent to the various states for ratification, there was a great deal of concern that too much power would be vested at the national level, leaving the states and all individuals open to potential despotic governance. Specifically a Bill of Rights was envisioned and discussed but ultimately tabled at the Constitutional Convention.
The author methodically walks through the process needed for ratification in Virginia, a key state - from a population, political and economic standpoint. In essence, regardless of the three quarters rule, Virginia's acceptance was needed. James Madison, a Federalist, was up against a formidable opposition with both the Anti-Federalists along with those who favored ratification with a Bill of Rights, as a sine que non. Madison squared off against his long time friend, James Monroe and in what was to be a key election to the First Congress (after losing a Senate election).Read more ›
Lets go out on a limb, and say that James Madison probably wouldn't make it in politics today. He was 5'4", shy, soft spoken, and portrayed by the author as extremely timid when speaking in front of a large group. He also "flip-flopped" on his stance on the Bill of Rights, which at that time seemed to be democracy working (Today he would probably be eaten alive); Madison seems to not only believe passionately about the importance of a strong federal government, but evolves to believe just as passionately about the protection of the people's individual rights (Thus- A Bill of Rights). OK, it could be argued that he had to compromise and promise support of a Bill of Rights to get elected, but the author seems to feel that Madison truly believed in their importance. The story of Madison is very interesting and even for his time he seems to be somewhat of an underdog whose passion, intellect, and love for his country allowed him to prevail over his short-comings.Read more ›
I was a bit dissapointed that the book did not offer a more rigorous treatment of the author's hypothesis, and that it did not treat more fully the ideas behind the political debate and machinations that are documented. It was a little bit too much a loose "journalism" approach, telling the political story.
Also, as another review suggests, the narrative thread sometimes seems to waver ... many many details that don't serve to advance either the story or the critical hypothesis.
But -- I'm glad I stumbled on it, glad to have spent some time with it. Perhaps after I have read more deeply on these subjects (I am just starting a personal project to learn about American history) I would be less patient with the books deficiencies. For now, for me, it was an interesting re-introduction to some of the characters and questions of the time.
The book motivated me to examine the Preamble of the Bill of Rights that was forwarded to the States which included the following:
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The fear of a misconstruction, or an innacurate interpretation kept some who ratified waiting further assurances, hence the Amendmendments proposed by Madison.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The basic premise of this book revolves around not what did happen but rather what might have happened had Americans failed to ratify the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Read morePublished 1 month ago by HH
This is the most detailed book available describing how the Bill of Rights came about and the opposition Madison had to overcome.Published 10 months ago by J. Windell
An excellent book, well written so as to give the reader the feeling of being there in history. After reading Madison's journal of the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention,... Read morePublished 11 months ago by HistoryBuff
The research is good, the story is OK but it became very clear that the author was not interested in telling the whole story and totally avoids the 2nd Amendment altogether. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Moodaddy
A good read. I am only part way through it. It is much more than just about Madison.. The book explores those who did not support ratifying the constitution, those who did, and... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Patrick J. Corcoran
Reading about the Founding Fathers and the creation of America is dangerous. Inevitably you come at it with what you absorbed in grade school, a sort of myth or legend. Read morePublished on June 2, 2013 by David F. Mcginnis
Those who cite the Constitution and the Bill or Rights really ought to steep themselves in the thinking of the founding fathers who were never of one opinion about anything. Read morePublished on June 1, 2013 by Douglas D. Patterson