Magazine February 5, 2018, Issue

The Mind of a Founder

Noah Feldman
The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President, by Noah Feldman (Random House, 800 pp., $35)

For generations, James Madison’s memory was overshadowed by that of his friend Thomas Jefferson. It was Jefferson, not Madison, who was the icon of agrarian republicanism during the 19th century. In the 20th century, when progressives scoured history for intellectual forebears, they too preferred Jefferson to Madison.

But the tide began turning in Madison’s favor after World War II. As political science became a more sophisticated discipline, scholars noticed that Madison had some profound ideas regarding political economy, legislative behavior, and party politics. Political theorists increasingly appreciated his ability to analyze problems dispassionately, without falling prey to the hyperbolic flights of

Jay Cost is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College.

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