James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation

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9781469628318: James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation

James Madison is remembered primarily as a systematic political theorist, but this bookish and unassuming man was also a practical politician who strove for balance in an age of revolution. In this biography, Jeff Broadwater focuses on Madison's role in the battle for religious freedom in Virginia, his contributions to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, his place in the evolution of the party system, his relationship with Dolley Madison, his performance as a wartime commander in chief, and his views on slavery. From Broadwater's perspective, no single figure can tell us more about the origins of the American republic than our fourth president.
In these pages, Madison emerges as a remarkably resilient politician, an unlikely wartime leader who survived repeated setbacks in the War of 1812 with his popularity intact. Yet Broadwater shows that despite his keen intelligence, the more Madison thought about one issue, race, the more muddled his thinking became, and his conviction that white prejudices were intractable prevented him from fully grappling with the dilemma of American slavery.

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About the Author:

Jeff Broadwater is professor of history at Barton College and author of George Mason, Forgotten Founder.


Broadwater grounds his study in the best Madison scholarship and thus understands Madison's position on the Constitution. . . . As good an account of James Madison as there is likely to be.--Claremont Review of Books
An essential American philosopher and president gains a substantive treatment.--Kirkus Reviews
A comprehensive and fascinating view of the nations, personalities, economic issues and events that led to the War of 1812.--Rocky Mount Telegram
Broadwater has done an excellent job of discussing and analyzing the major issues, events, and people with whom Madison had to deal. His book is a welcome addition to the literature on Madison's remarkable career.--Virginia Magazine
[James Madison] will appeal to readers looking for an in-depth analysis of Madison's revolutionary thinking.--ForeWord Reviews
Deal[s] with the whole man and with the complete story of [Madison's] life insofar as the biographer can limn it. . . . Restore[s] Madison's humanity.--The Wall Street Journal
[A] bold and worthy assessment.--The Historian
Meticulously researched and surprisingly readable. . . . History buffs and early-America aficionados will find Broadwater's work indispensable.--Publishers Weekly
Highly recommended. General readers and undergraduate collections.--Choice
Broadwater has produced an eminently readable synthesis that is well suited for classroom use as well as for those looking for an insightful introduction to James Madison's thought and public career. . . . [He] has succeeded in giving us a thoughtful and interesting analysis of this pivotal figure, around whom so much of the political discourse of the early national period revolved.--Journal of Southern History
There are few one-volume works which stand in the pantheon of James Madison biographies. . . . [Broadwater's] is a welcome new addition to that list.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
Thorough, judicious, and insightful. . . . [Broadwater] leads us to appreciate the perceptiveness of the French diplomat Louis Otto's observation that Madison is 'a man one must study for a long time in order to make a fair appraisal of him'.--The Review of Politics
[Broadwater's] biography is very solid and scholarly. . . the best medium-sized life of Madison that we have.--Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books
Readers who want an introduction to [Madison's] political thought and practice over his whole career will find these volumes considerably valuable.--Journal of American History
In an engagingly formulated work of synthesis, Broadwater offers a compelling view of the essential Madison. . . . [His] clear writing style and contextual explanations make this work especially appealing to incipient scholars and general readers.--Library Journal

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