James Madison

20 Jul 2010 by Fausto Sicha, No Comments »

By: Fausto Sicha 


          James Madison was the fourth President of the United States, and one of the country’s founding fathers. Since he was the primary author of the Constitution, he is often referred to as the “Father of the Constitution.” He wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, which were the most influential writings on the Constitution. He helped draft many of the basic laws of the United States, and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution. For this reason, he is also known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.” Since Madison played such an important role in the formation of the United States, his views were very influential in forming the basic ideas about the ideal political leadership and government of the country. At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Madison drafted the Virginia Plan, which laid out his revolutionary idea for a three-branch federal system which became the basis for the Constitution that is still in effect today. Madison advocated a strong federal government that could overrule actions and decisions of individual states when necessary. He was a very strong advocate of a government that would use a system of checks and balances to limit the powers of factions, or special interest groups.

           In Federalist 41, James Madison explains all of the elements that he feels are necessary for the government to be able to effectively run the country. According to Madison, the government needed to have the powers relating to the following: security against foreign danger, regulation of the intercourse with foreign nations, maintenance of harmony among the states, restraint of the states from injurious acts. Under the category of security against foreign danger Madison included the power to declare war, provide armies and fleets, to regulate and call forth the militia, and levying and borrowing money. Under the category of regulating intercourse with foreign nations, Madison included the power to make treaties, to send and receive ambassadors, and to regulate foreign commerce. Under the category of maintaining harmony among the states Madison included the power to coin and regulate the value of money, to establish uniform rules of naturalization, and to establish judicial proceedings of each state. Madison also spells out the limits to the powers of the individual states saying “No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation, coin money… or pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or grant any title of nobility.” In addition to all of these, Madison gave the power needed to carry out all of the former by saying that the government must have “the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States.”

          Madison was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution, giving him the name “the Father of the Bill of Rights.” By creating the Bill of Rights Madison was insuring that the government, while strong, would not be able to tamper with certain basic human rights of the people of the country. The first amendment to the constitution states the following: the people of the united States have the right to freedom of religion, speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. The second amendment states that the people have the right to bear arms. The third amendment states that no soldier shall be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner. The fourth amendment states that  people have the right to the security of their person and property, and that these cannot be searched without a warrant and probable cause. The Fifth Amendment states that no person shall be tried for a crime without due process of law. The sixth amendment states that any person accused of a crime is to be given a speedy trial by jury, and also has the right to be represented by counsel. The seventh amendment states that lawsuits have the right to be tried by a jury. The eighth amendment guards against cruel and unusual punishments. The ninth amendment states that the rights listed in the constitution do not mean that there are not other rights that people are entitled to. The tenth amendment states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.” A study of these rights as set forth by James Madison will quickly establish how important his influence was in the creation of this country. These rights set forth ion the constitution are the basic foundation upon which this country was built. These rights are known and accepted, even taken for granted by everyone in the United States. People who are born in the United States take these rights for granted. Many people born in other countries have the desire to become American citizens in great part because they wish access to these very rights. In the time since the Bill of Rights was created, these rights have remained the cornerstone of this country. They have not needed to be changed or improved upon. One important reason for this is explained by Madison in his Federalist 51: “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It has ever been and ever will be pursued until it is obtained, or until liberty is lost on the pursuit.” (SECRET CONSTITUTION PAGE 95) The reason that the Bill of Rights is so powerful is that it elucidates the rights that all people feel they must have in order to feel that sense of justice will remain constant within their own lives.

          At the Philadelphia convention in 1787, Madison put forth his belief in the necessity for a strong national government, with three branches of separate but equal powers. It was also during this convention that it was decided that the president of the United States was to be the commander in chief of the armed forces, was empowered to make treaties with the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate, and was authorized to appoint judges of the Supreme Court and all other officers of the united States subject to approval by a Senate majority.

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