James Madison Essay

1063 words - 4 pages

James Madison seemed fragile, standing at only five feet six inches and weighing less than 140 pounds, and did not look like the type to be an influential political leader. Yet Madison was a great debater, able to use pure thought, not emotion, to win an argument. Madison is called the Father of the Constitution for a reason: he first helped create the Constitutional Convention and then worked for a strong national government that is the foundation of the Constitution. Madison made many contributions to the government of the United States. Not only did he fight for a strong national government and become both Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson, but he also helped Jefferson strengthen the Republican party and constantly worked for the citizens of the country. He created the social and political pattern of a "people's president," a government official who knows what the citizens need and tries to pass laws best suited for the citizens. Madison worked for the citizens by drafting the Bill of Rights and ushering it through the First Congress (p.53). The Bill of Rights protected citizens from the government, guaranteeing them rights which the government cannot take away. It gives citizens freedom of speech, religion, and press, as well as many other rights. Madison understood the fact that without the Bill of Rights, the country would not be living up to it's idea of being a free republican nation. In 1790, two Quakers presented petitions to the House of Representatives, of which Madison was a member, calling for an end to the African slave trade(p. 81). Madison immediately opposed the idea, and quickly became the voice of reason in the debate. He said that if those opposed would restrain themselves, then the petition would go away and "never be blown up into a decision of the question respecting the discouragement of the African slave-trade, nor alarm the owners with an apprehension that the general government were about to abolish slavery in all the states" (p. 82). Madison was opposed to discussing the end to the slave trade for two reasons. First, he believed in following the compact of 1787, which said that the slave trade could not be restricted or terminated until 1808 (p. 87). Secondly, despite the fact that he believed that slavery was "a Moral and political Evil"(p.114), he knew that the Southern States, including his home state of Virginia, needed slaves in order to survive. He refused to help take away people's property and their income. In January of 1790, Alexander Hamilton proposed a plan to get rid of America's debts. Hamilton said that the best way to get rid of the state debts was to have the federal government take on these debts, allowing the fiscal policy of the new nation to proceed with a clear idea of its financial obligations (p. 57). Although the plan sounded simple, Madison believed it was much more complicated. Madison protested strongly because most if the southern states, including...

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