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Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, The…

Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, The Bill of Rights, and The Election…

by Chris DeRose

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While the subtitle of this book focuses on "the election that saved a nation," this is only a relatively small part of the book (two of the 16 chapters). And other than the election's impact, I found that specific topic the most tedious. This is because it focuses (as it should) on counties and votes. I was more interested in the ideological differences between the two, which is well covered.

Overall, however, I found the book to be well written and enjoyable. The contention between Madison and Monroe was nowhere near that of say Adams and Jefferson. So if you're looking for a slug fest between two great minds, you won't find it here (not a reflection of the book, just a fact). There were really only two primary differences between the two when it came to the Constitution: a bill of rights (amendments) and taxes. Madison did an end-around on Monroe regarding amendments which pretty much left the one issue.

But before any of that comes up in the book, Chris DeRose covers both men's early lives, public services (Madison's in politics, Monroe's in the Revolutionary War, then politics), and friendship.

I did enjoy learning more about both men, although Madison gets the lion's share of the coverage as his role was far more important (at least when it comes to the Constitution and Bill of Rights). Also, the book covers little to nothing about their respective presidential administrations, which is fine—it's not the topic of the book, just a heads up to prospective readers.

Still, it's a fine, quick read about two important Founders. ( )
  Jarratt | Apr 22, 2018 |
DeRose absolutely captivated me. It is amazing that a story one knows so well can be re-told in a book where one is excited and anticipates the simple act of turning the page. De Rose clearly favors Madison yet in doing so he does not denigrate Monroe. The writing of this book is clear and easy to grasp. ( )
  DeaconBernie | Sep 1, 2013 |
Great read. Quick moving with subchapters providing short vignettes and keeping the action moving from scene to scene.
  Oceanspan | May 28, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159698192X, Hardcover)

The Amazing True Story of the Election That Saved the Constitution

In 1789, James Madison and James Monroe ran against each other for Congress—the only time that two future presidents have contested a congressional seat.

But what was at stake, as author Chris DeRose reveals in Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation, was more than personal ambition. This was a race that determined the future of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the very definition of the United States of America.

Friends and political allies for most of their lives, Madison was the Constitution’s principal author, Monroe one of its leading opponents. Monroe thought the Constitution gave the federal government too much power and failed to guarantee fundamental rights. Madison believed that without the Constitution, the United States would not survive.

It was the most important congressional race in American history, more important than all but a few presidential elections, and yet it is one that historians have virtually ignored. In Founding Rivals, DeRose, himself a political strategist who has fought campaigns in Madison and Monroe’s district, relives the campaign, retraces the candidates’ footsteps, and offers the first insightful, comprehensive history of this high-stakes political battle.

DeRose reveals:
How Madison’s election ensured the passage of a Bill of Rights—and how
Monroe’s election would have ensured its failure
How Madison came from behind to win a narrow victory (by a margin of only 336 votes) in a district gerrymandered against him
How the Bill of Rights emerged as a campaign promise to Virginia’s evangelical Christians
Why Madison’s defeat might have led to a new Constitutional Convention—and the breakup of the United States
Founding Rivals tells the extraordinary, neglected story of two of America’s most important Founding Fathers. Brought to life by unparalleled research, it is one of the most provocative books of American political history you will read this year.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:57 -0400)

DeRose tells the never-before-told story of the 1789 congressional election in Virginia's 5th district and of the two men who fought it: James Madison and James Monroe. They were friends and political allies for most of their lives, but their paths diverged when they found themselves at odds with each other in the battle over the Constitution.… (more)

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