Founding Fathers featuring James Madison

Many folks, historians and scholars alike have the propensity to compare James Madison with Bill Gates. We have no doubt that if Mr. Madison were around today he’d be humbled; albeit, we don’t feel as though he’d be in awe, or intimidated by Mr. Gates’ wealth. Most of us believe that James Madison is very much a self-made person. Although homeschooled by his father – without question the most rigorous academic structure is still to be found.

From ages 11 to 16, a young “Jemmy” Madison studied under Donald Robertson, an instructor at the Innes plantation in King and Queen County, Virginia. Robertson was a Scottish teacher who flourished in the southern states. From Robertson, Madison learned mathematics, geography, and modern and ancient languages. He became especially proficient in Latin. Madison said that he owed his bent for learning “largely to that man (Robertson).” At age 16, he began a two-year course of study under the Reverend Thomas Martin, who tutored Madison at Montpelier in preparation for college. Unlike most college-bound Virginians of his day, Madison did not choose the College of William and Mary because the lowland climate of Williamsburg might have strained his delicate health. Instead, in 1769, he enrolled at the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University.

Through diligence and long hours of study that may have damaged his health, Madison graduated in 1771. His studies there included Latin, Greek, science, geography, mathematics, rhetoric, and philosophy. Great emphasis also was placed on speech and debate. He completed his college studies in two years.

After graduation, Madison remained at Princeton to study Hebrew and political philosophy under university president John Witherspoon (yep, same surname) before returning to Montpelier in the spring of 1772. Afterwards, he knew Hebrew quite well. Madison studied law, but out of his interest in public policy, not with the intent of practicing law as a profession.

Throughout his political career James Madison had a passion for reading especially foreign authors as well as foreign philosophy. This is no doubt to better serve his constituents. However it was not before long that Madison would concentrate all of his energies on the Constitution of the United States.

The notion is well-known by those who study James Madison that he indeed was the “Father of the Constitution” but many are amiss in their true understanding that Madison would spend the rest of his life trying to fix what went wrong.

“A sincere and steadfast co-operation in promoting such a reconstruction of our political system as would provide for the permanent liberty and happiness of the United States”…indeed represents that he was well aware of partisan politics and gridlock.

Furthermore, with his experience with people and politics James Madison realized the following notion.
“All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”

As for me and mine we believe that this quote from Madison certainly represents a clearer version of the separation of church and state other than what the folks in Danbury, Connecticut received from Thomas Jefferson:

“And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

It is certainly not hard to understand the following as observed by Madison:

” I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

More important perhaps comes from Madison’s quote about the law and what lawyers and judges have done to them.

 “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

It would be no problem whatsoever to go on and continue to quote one of the greatest public service oriented minds until you’re bored to death. As we look back over this writing it becomes increasingly obvious to me that in lieu of human behavior very little if anything has happened to change the mindset of those given to politics, especially those caught within the “Beltway.”

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