James Madison Criticism - Essay

Edward McNall Burns (essay date 1938)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Burns, Edward McNall. “Views on Democracy.” In James Madison: Philosopher of the Constitution, 1938. Reprint, pp. 60-90. New York: Octagon Books, 1968.

[In the following essay, Burns compares Madison's views on democracy with those of his contemporaries, notably Thomas Jefferson.]

The subject of this chapter involves first of all a matter of definition. In the modern age the term democracy in the political sense has generally been defined in either of two ways. Since about 1825 it has usually been understood to mean the sovereignty of the majority, with few if any restrictions upon the right of the majority to put its will into effect. Thus defined, it has...

(The entire section is 9074 words.)

Ralph L. Ketcham (essay date spring 1957)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ketcham, Ralph L. “James Madison and Judicial Review.” Syracuse Law Review 8, no. 2 (spring 1957): 158-65.

[In the following essay, Ketcham discusses Madison's changing position on which branch of the government should possess the ultimate power to review laws and interpret the Constitution.]

The problem which most concerned the framers of the Constitution in the summer of 1787 and which most vexed those who put the new government into operation in the succeeding years was that of final interpretation of the Constitution. As a leader in the drafting, ratification, and implementation of the Constitution, James Madison's view on the question of interpretation...

(The entire section is 4086 words.)

Adrienne Koch (essay date 1966)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Koch, Adrienne. “Justice.” In Madison's “Advice to My Country,” pp. 53-99. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966.

[In the following essay, Koch refutes the negative critical reputation accorded Madison throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and considers the concept of justice as the ultimate goal of Madison's political philosophy.]

Inadequate humanistic scholarship in America has done Madison a great disservice. I make this judgment sadly, and reserve from the generalization two recent works—the Hutchinson edition of the Papers of James Madison, now in progress, and Irving Brant's six-volume biography...

(The entire section is 11396 words.)

Robert J. Morgan (essay date November 1974)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Morgan, Robert J. “Madison's Theory of Representation in the Tenth Federalist.” The Journal of Politics 36, no. 4 (November 1974): 852-85.

[In the following essay, Morgan claims that Madison's views on the merits of representative government have been misinterpreted by scholars.]

For decades scholars have overlooked the full significance of James Madison's direct statement in the “Tenth” Federalist: “a scheme of representation … promises the cure for [faction] which we are seeking.”1 It is surprising that they have ignored, also, his related prescription of a constitutional equilibrium to be achieved by allocating representation...

(The entire section is 12801 words.)

Theodore Draper (essay date February 1982)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Draper, Theodore. “Hume & Madison: The Secrets of Federalist Paper No. 10,” Encounter 58, no. 2 (February 1982): 34-47.

[In the following essay, Draper discusses Madison's debt to David Hume in the development of his concept of the “extended republic.”]

“No. 10” of The Federalist has long been regarded as the greatest paper in that greatest of all works of American political thought. The most recent testimony to its enduring importance and fascination is Garry Wills' new book, Explaining America: The Federalist.1 His explanation comes to a climax with an extended consideration of “No. 10” and the secret which had...

(The entire section is 11154 words.)

Robert A. Rutland (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rutland, Robert A. “James Madison's Dream: A Secular Republic.” In James Madison on Religious Liberty, edited by Robert S. Alley, pp. 199-206. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1985.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1983, Rutland examines Madison's advocacy of the separation of church and state, which led to the treatise, Memorial and Remonstrance.]

Any clear-headed historian who reaches his ninetieth year in reasonably good health is going to be asked a lot of silly questions, as Dumas Malone found to be the case in 1982. But like all wise men, Malone was able to turn the tables when he rephrased a mindless query about American history into...

(The entire section is 3595 words.)

A. E. Dick Howard (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Howard, A. E. Dick. “James Madison and the Founding of the Republic.” In James Madison on Religious Liberty, edited by Robert S. Alley, pp. 21-34. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1985.

[In the following essay, Howard discusses Madison's role in formulating the Constitution and founding the republic.]

James Madison—by common consent, the Father of the nation's Constitution—was in many ways an unlikely candidate for the historic role he played in the founding of our republic. Madison was not what we today would call “charismatic”; indeed, for strong personality, it is Dolley, not James, that history remembers.

Unprepossessing in...

(The entire section is 6333 words.)

William Lee Miller (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Miller, William Lee. “Many Hands.” In The Business of May Next: James Madison and the Founding, pp. 142-52. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992.

[In the following essay, Miller discusses Madison's role as the “Father of the Constitution,” suggesting that such a label is inappropriate given the collaborative nature of the founding of the republic.]


Was Madison the Father of the Constitution? That is the wrong metaphor, for Madison or for anyone else. The singleness of the metaphor of fatherhood is inappropriate to the collaborative complexity of this successful republican state-making. A later president, John...

(The entire section is 5221 words.)

I. Bernard Cohen (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cohen, I. Bernard. “Science and the Constitution.” In Science and the Founding Fathers: Science in the Political Thought of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Madison, pp. 262-72. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

[In the following excerpt, Cohen discusses Madison's education in the scientific disciplines and his scientific references in The Federalist papers.]


James Madison's early education included the study of Latin and Greek, history, rhetoric, and some mathematics: arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.1 At the age of eighteen he entered the College of New Jersey at Princeton, now...

(The entire section is 3560 words.)

Richard K. Matthews (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Matthews, Richard K. “Property: Rights and Possessions, Democracy and Despair.” In If Men Were Angels: James Madison and the Heartless Empire of Reason, pp. 117-72. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

[In the following essay, Matthews examines Madison's 1792 essay “Property,” claiming that his views on the institution of private property were complex and insightful.]

In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.1


While Federalist “10” on the control of factions and...

(The entire section is 21579 words.)