A major new biography of the fourth president of the United States by New York Times bestselling author Lynne Cheney
Lin-Manuel Miranda's play "Hamilton" has reignited interest in the founding fathers; it features James Madison among its vibrant cast of characters. This majestic new biography of James Madison explores the astonishing story of a man of vaunted modesty who audaciously changed the world. Among the Founding Fathers, Madison was a true genius of the early republic.
Outwardly reserved, Madison was the intellectual driving force behind the Constitution and crucial to its ratification. His visionary political philosophy and rationale for the union of states—so eloquently presented in The Federalist papers—helped shape the country Americans live in today.
Along with Thomas Jefferson, Madison would found the first political party in the country’s history—the Democratic Republicans. As Jefferson’s secretary of state, he managed the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. As president, Madison led the country in its first war under the Constitution, the War of 1812. Without precedent to guide him, he would demonstrate that a republic could defend its honor and independence—and remain a republic still.
In a meticulously researched, richly detailed look at the life and times of Madison, former Second Lady Cheney (We the People) fleshes out the achievements and struggles of this American Founding Father. As much a biography of the statesman, intellectual, and politician who rose to become President as a history of the country's tumultuous post-Revolutionary War growth, the work covers a lot of ground. Authoritative, conversational, certainly confident in its analysis, the book paints Madison as a man of great accomplishments; one who struggled against setbacks, political opponents, and health problems. Cheney does veer uncomfortably close to hero worship: "Madison's time of extraordinary achievement came after years of intense focus, deep concentration, and nearly obsessive effort, behavior that describes most lives of genius, from Sir Isaac Newton's to Mozart's to Einstein's." However, she does show his impressive influence in helping to forge a nation out of chaos through constant debate and begrudging compromise. Cheney conclusively demonstrates through the historical record that Madison, in word and deed, was a primary figure in shaping early American development and successfully establishes "a deeper understanding of the man who did more than any other to conceive and establish the nation we know."