Historians are often baffled by James Madison… In 1787, there was no stronger voice for nationalism and strengthening the federal government; yet, by 1790 he was battling one-time ally, Alexander Hamilton over the very powers they helped create. Madison had become an advocate of limited government in less than a Presidential term. What happened?
With friends like these…
Madison was the “Father of the Constitution”… and creator of the Bill of Rights- the commonly held description of our most overlooked Founder. We view this change in his political outlook as inconsistency, or even a problem. This opinion hangs on the assumption that Madison was responsible for the final draft of the Constitution. He authored the Virginia Plan, the radical framework that altered the course of the 1787 Convention. Of the document produced in September, Madison said, “It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.” Most historians assumed Madison was being modest- in fact, he was expressing his displeasure with the process. Madison wanted a Federal government that could control the wildly inconsistent passions of state governments, but he did not advocate a massive consolidation of power.
Author of the Virginia Plan
Federalist #10 is Madison’s warning about… the dangerous passions that consumed state governments. From 1784 to 1787 he toiled in the Virginia legislature, witnessing the worst governance(or lack thereof) he could imagine. The Federal government he envisioned would temper these passions(and blunders) and provide the regulation to help the Union move forward. Madison opposed Hamilton’s financial programs because he feared they brought the same economic passions driving policy in the states into Congress. The very threat Madison looked to alleviate caused his split Hamilton. Madison remained consistent to the end.
George Washington achieved iconic status during… his lifetime. His peers held him in such esteem that by the time of his death most Americans were left unaware of the life he led. Washington quickly faded in the collective memory- he became a statue, figuratively as well as literally. This dehumanization has caused Washington’s name and reputation to plummet in our national remembrance. Recent polls of some 600 historians show Washington ranking #3 behind Lincoln and FDR. Many of the same writers cite unwarranted “hero worship” as the reason for the decline.
Myth or man?
What troubles many delusional historians… is that Washington was aware of his image as the great patriot-hero. This was an image he went to great lengths to protect. This type of self-awareness irks 21st century sensibilities, but was common and accepted in the 18th century. Washington was not as well read, educated or worldly as his peers, but he always acted appropriately, worked efficiently, and governed wisely.
Washington should still be first… in the hearts and minds of his countrymen. His great strength was character- the ability to lead men without ruling them. The example he set has endured through the trials and tribulations of our republic- he is truly, the essential American.
American history education needs fixing…. but it cannot be in the form of foolish revisionism. As the educational community looks for answers to this problem, hucksters and con-men will attempt to make a quick dollar with their dubious products. American filmmaker and woefully amateurish historian, Oliver Stone, is attempting to sell his new history book to anyone willing to listen to his highly contentious view of American history (He “blogs” for Huffington Post with purchase information prominently displayed.) Why aren’t more high school students exposed to his ludicrous revisions of our history?
Uncle Joe was really a wonderful guy
Someone with a record of historical shenanigans…. like Oliver Stone, should be allowed nowhere close to American educational reform. There are plenty of conscientious, disciplined, and trained historians who are willing to assist American students with learning our history.
Filed under Ephemera, News
Consensus history records that America barely survived… the War of 1812; persistent peace negotiations combined with a distracted British military allowed the unprepared republic a fortuitous exit. A closer examination reveals a less than concerted British war effort with poor strategic planning. The same criteria applied conversely proves that America won the war every bit as much as Britain lost it. History shows us;
We have met the enemy, and they are ours…
- Timely victories– As in the Revolutionary War, the United States military sustained losses, but its victories had a greater impact. The early naval triumphs of the USS Constitution, President, and United States over the vaunted Royal Navy helped limit the setbacks suffered along the Canadian border. Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory on Lake Erie permanently isolated British forces in the west. William Henry Harrison’s decisive blow at the Thames broke the British-Indian alliance (and he finally killed Tecumseh.) The battle of Plattsburgh ended the poorly coordinated invasion of New York, sealing off the Niagara frontier.
- Bend, don’t break– British general Robert Ross made the same mistake Sir William Howe made in the Revolution, he believed that occupying the American capital would influence the war. The British occupation and burning of Washington on August 24, 1814 was a minor psychological blow, but had no strategic impact on the war. The US government simply moved, leaving no real prize for the British troops. The failure to capture Baltimore Harbour two weeks later brought the ill conceived campaign to end (and also produced Francis Scott Key’s poem about Fort McHenry.) The rigid strategic thinking of the British high command could not appropriately account for the flexibility of US forces defending their own soil.
- And for good measure– US troops proved their mettle against the mighty Redcoats at Lundy’s Lane, Chippewa, and North Point. The British army had no decisive advantage in land forces. The crushing defeat of General Edward Pakenham’s forces by Andrew Jackson’s defenders at New Orleans was an exclamation point on a war that had officially ended two weeks earlier. British forces suffered 2, 042 casualties (including the deaths of Pakenham and his chief Lt. Gibbs) while Jackson lost only 71 troops. Critics of the war were silenced when news of the triumph reached eastern seaboard.
Repel the invaders !
These proceedings and declared purposes, which exhibit a deliberate disregard of the principles of humanity and the rules of civilized warfare, and which must give to the existing war a character of extended devastation and barbarism at the very moment of negotiations for peace, invited by the enemy himself, leave no prospect of safety to anything within the reach of his predatory and incendiary operations but in manful and universal determination to chastise and expel the invader: James Madison, September 1, 1814
I have blog, hear me roar….I guess.
- We only have ourselves to blame for this Trump candidacy
- Harry Truman lost the New Hampshire primary to a guy in a coonskin cap- perspective matters
- John Kasich is experienced, seasoned, reasonable, and very electable- no wonder Republicans hate him…
- Votes against Clinton and Bush are votes against oligarchy
- The incessant purifying of the Republican party will be its downfall…
- A moderate Democrat is needed now, more than ever
- We need fewer, yet motivated people in college- not more disinterested students enticed by free tuition
- Bernie Sanders shouldn’t give up his night job….heckling the Muppets
- Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were not golfing buddies- they were political rivals who compromised often…for the good of the country.
- There is nothing more dangerous to liberty than a second-term President nearing the end of his time in office…
- One of the current political parties has overstayed its welcome…. flip a coin
- A Trump administration will undoubtedly call for a third incarnation of the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities – I can’t wait to be called
- Corporate charter schools are becoming part of the problem in education reform- nonprofit charters are the only answer
- School Choice still works- keep the corporate money out.
- You will really “Feel the Bern” on tax day…
Please donate to the James Madison Preparatory School history library expansion.
Mr. Gordon Sheaffer- US History Instructor
James Madison Preparatory School
Help bring history alive
These funds would help expand the American history library used by students at one of Arizona’s best charter schools. James Madison Preparatory School was founded in 2000 with a focus on America’s history and system of government.
The expansion would include the purchase of the Official Records of the Civil War- an essential tool for any student of that conflict.
Madison Prep students study American history for two full years and are offered a 13 week elective course in the Civil War. These additions would greatly expand the primary source material available to them. Utilizing primary sources brings the students closer to the people who experienced the history.
Thank you for your time and consideration. gofund.me/e6gqpvgk