Madison's Third Way. (Politics & Government)

Article excerpt

"The Madisonian Madison and the Question of Consistency: The Significance and Challenge at Recent Research" by Alan Gibson, in The Review of Politics (Spring 2002), Univ. of Notre Dame, P.O. Box B, Notre Dame, Ind. 46556.

James Madison (1751-1836), the cerebral father of the Constitution and coauthor of The Federalist, emerges from many scholarly accounts as a disappointing political chameleon: a Hamiltonian nationalist in one decade (the 1780s), a Jeffersonian defender of states' rights in the next. But recent studies show that he was not so inconsistent, according to Gibson, a political scientist at California State University, Chico. Neither Hamiltonian nor Jeffersonian, Madison forged or represented "a third way."

Historian Lance Banning argued in The Sacred Fire of Liberty (1995) that Madison shared his fellow Federalist author Alexander Hamilton's "contempt for the weaknesses of the government under the Articles of Confederation and his fear of majority tyranny," Gibson writes. But he was "no less repelled than Patrick Henry and other AntiFederalists by Hamilton's vision of national splendor and consolidated government."

Instead of Hamilton's vision of a manufacturing America, historian Drew McCoy showed in The Elusive Republic (1980), Madison clung through the 1780s and 1790s to the ideal of an agrarian republic, albeit one that required land and commercial expansion. …

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