The First American Founder

James W. Ceaser

National Affairs | 2018

“America . . . has made the founding a central theme of its political science. And yet Americans are remarkably imprecise when it comes to assigning the label of founder. To whom should it apply? . . . Madison was essential in forming the new government and in defining the terms of debate at the Philadelphia Convention. Along with Hamilton, Madison was also a main author of the Federalist Papers, which explained and defended the Constitution during the ratification contest. Feeling he was duty-bound by an implicit agreement reached in many states during the ratification debate, he was also the chief force behind the passage of the Bill of Rights through Congress in 1789.

This is all well-covered ground; less well known, and more fundamental, is Madison’s role in introducing the concept of founding, or lawgiving, itself.”

Image courtesy U.S. Department of State

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