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In this penetrating biography, eminent historian Richard Brookhiser presents a vivid portrait of the “Father of the Constitution,” an accomplished yet humble statesman who nourished Americans’ fledgling liberty and vigorously defended the laws that have preserved it to this day.
for attacking Washington from the east. Monroe rode off to alert whatever American troops were already there. Winder followed with reinforcements. Armstrong came to the Navy Yard only after Monroe and Winder left. Madison asked him whether he had any advice to give. He didn’t but added that, since the battle would be between American militia and British regulars, “the former would be beaten.” Madison suggested that Armstrong really should take part in the coming engagement (“ [I] expressed to
Washington had become to his former staff officer. Washington’s status as father of his country could be tough on his symbolic sons; family politics is even harder on losers than the ordinary kind. Everyone else in Washington’s official family also begged him to stay on—Hamilton, Jefferson, Secretary of War Henry Knox. After that unanimous chorus of advice, everyone promptly returned to the business at hand, which was abusing one another. Jefferson warned Washington, by letter and in person,
enlisted Benjamin Henry Latrobe, an English-born architect who had moved to the United States in the 1790s. Latrobe knew Jefferson and had helped him finish the White House. But Mrs. Madison wanted to use it for more than intimate dinners. She and Latrobe planned a parlor and a drawing room for large functions. Client and designer soon quarreled: Latrobe fretted about Mrs. Madison’s taste in curtains (crimson velvet). Descriptions of her color schemes and her props—a piano, a parrot, a
in America helped Madison politically: a swell of Anglophobia boosted Republican fortunes in states where they had suffered from the embargo. But reacting to British feints and moods was one thing. Madison and Congress had to create an American policy of their own. In the spring of 1810, Congress produced a bill named after Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolina Republican, which opened trade to both Britain and France. If either country should then repeal its restrictive decrees, then the United
the marshal”—did Madison intend the pun?—“and the posse headed by the sheriff.” The judiciary, Madison concluded, was a legitimate constitutional venue for deciding such disputes. Like Jefferson, he deplored Marshall’s “extrajudicial reasonings and dicta.... But the abuse of a trust does not disprove its existence.” Madison could be pro- or anti-court, depending on the circumstances. In 1800, in his Report on the Alien and Sedition Acts, when Federalist judges were zealously upholding the