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Madison's Gift: Five Partnerships That…

Madison's Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America

by David O. Stewart

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This book can make for tedious reading, as it feels like the story moves only at the most incremental pace. As each relationship is introduced, the story often goes back to the beginning, leaving the reader to feel like the book never really moves forward. This is not quite true and the relationships presented here are interesting and illuminating for those interested in the early years of the American republic. Still, the pacing and narrative could have been better organized and written, as well as the case for the uniqueness of Madison's relationships better articulated. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jun 9, 2017 |
James Madison, one of the major writers of the Constitution and of the Bill of Rights, was not a large man, but he made a huge impact. In Madison's Gift, David O. Stewart brings us back to this pivotal moment in history and show's us how Madison's relationships with five other amazing people (Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Dolly Madison) shaped him, America, and the world. It provides facts and insights about all of these people, and I recommend it to readers interested in American history. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
This biography of James Madison is a very readable and thorough portrait of this great Founding Father. Madison doesn't get the attention that other founders receive, but he can be said to be the prime architect of our constitutional government and our nationhood. The book utilizes Madison's relationships with five of his contemporaries to explain his contributions to the nascent nation.

He was a protege of the much older Washington, a close confidant who persuaded the revered hero to come out of retirement to chair the constitutional convention. Madison might be considered the principal intellectual advisor to Washington and correctly realized that Washington's presence was crucial to countering skepticism and outright opposition to a national government. Madison allied with Alexander Hamilton to promote ratification of the constitution through their joint authorship of the Federalist Papers. Later, Madison and Hamilton would split bitterly when factions emerged as political parties.

Madison and Jefferson were close throughout their lives. They shared in common the lives of Virginia planters and formed the core of the Republican party that espoused a political philosophy distinct from the Federalists under Adams and Hamilton. Both men struggled with the matter of slavery and worried presciently about the divisiveness that slavery would bring to the union. Each remained slaveholders throughout their lives and did not find a way out of freeing their slaves during their lives or at their deaths. Madison served as Jefferson's secretary of state and dealt gingerly with the troublesome relationships with England and France.

Madison and James Monroe were allies throughout their political and social lives, except for a period of estrangement that they eventually overcame. Madison and Monroe steered the young nation through its troubled relations with European powers, eventually leading the nation into war with Britain when Monroe for a time served as secretary of state and acting secretary of war.

Madison's closest partnership was with his wife Dolly. Dolly's devotion to her husband and her support while he was president led to defining the role of first lady to the nation. Her sociability and charm were an effective counter balance to his intellectual and reserved demeanor.

Madison's towering intellect and his clear-sighted vision of a national government that bound together disparate sections are certainly key reasons that gave our nation its start and held it together in its shaky early years. ( )
  stevesmits | Feb 25, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 145168858X, Hardcover)

Historian David O. Stewart restores James Madison, sometimes overshadowed by his fellow Founders, to his proper place as the most significant framer of the new nation.

Short, plain, balding, neither soldier nor orator, low on charisma and high on intelligence, Madison cared more about achieving results than taking the credit. To reach his lifelong goal of a self-governing constitutional republic, he blended his talents with those of key partners. It was Madison who led the drive for the Constitutional Convention and pressed for an effective new government as his patron George Washington lent the effort legitimacy; Madison who wrote the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton to secure the Constitution's ratification; Madison who corrected the greatest blunder of the Constitution by drafting and securing passage of the Bill of Rights with Washington's support; Madison who joined Thomas Jefferson to found the nation’s first political party and move the nation toward broad democratic principles; Madison, with James Monroe, who guided the new nation through its first war in 1812, really its Second War of Independence; and it was Madison who handed the reins of government to the last of the Founders, his old friend and sometime rival Monroe. These were the main characters in his life.

But it was his final partnership that allowed Madison to escape his natural shyness and reach the greatest heights. Dolley was the woman he married in middle age and who presided over both him and an enlivened White House. This partnership was a love story, a unique one that sustained Madison through his political rise, his presidency, and a fruitful retirement.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:22 -0400)

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