James Madison

Max Beloff profiles the "real author of the Constitution" and one of the most extraordinary of the USA's Founding Fathers.

Few more remarkable galaxies of political thinkers have ever been assembled at one time, in one place and for a single purpose than that which met at Philadelphia in the summer of the year 1787—four years after the Treaty of Paris had given final recognition to their new status as citizens of the independent American Republic. Their task was to revise the Articles of Confederation—the Republic’s original Constitution—and to give to its central organs the greater strength which the stresses of the time suggested as necessary. In the upshot, what emerged was a totally new Constitution—a unique product of political sagacity, working upon the solid stuff of powerful interests and within the framework of a still emergent sense of national unity. Both for their own country and for the world at large, the consequences of their achievement have by no means ceased to operate. At a time when new institutions are being sought to meet the demands of new unities, generated by new and deadly perils, it is natural enough to turn for guidance to the Founding Fathers.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.