Summary Of James Madison By Gary Wills

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Gary Wills is the author of the book James Madison, which details the life of James Madison through his career as a politician. The focus of the book is Madison’s presidency, which Wills brings to the forefront as the major topic. Wills states that most other books do not focus on Madison’s presidency saying, “Madison’s very presidency is semi-forgotten. When Madison expert Jack N. Rakove published a selection of his writings in 1999, only 40 of its 864 pages came from his presidential years.” (Wills, p.1). Wills believes that this disregard of the presidency is because most believe Madison was not a great president and that his political career apart from the presidency was much more interesting and successful. Wills also goes on to provide …show more content…
Wills spends little time on this subject, however, devoting only three chapters to this topic. The three chapters are broken up by Madison’s political career before the Constitution, during the Constitution, and the three administrations where he served different positions under the three presidents before him. In the first chapter Wills dives in to Madison’s early life and early political career as a politician in his home state of Virginia. The second chapter highlights Madison’s role in the creation of the Constitution, which is an important time period. Madison formed his political beliefs as a young politician in Virginia, but he is seen defending his views and convincing others to believe in his views when the Constitution was being written. The third chapter highlights Madison’s political life during the three presidential administrations, where he pushes his agenda and eventually sets up his path for …show more content…
This section is mainly focused on maneuvering out of war during the second half of Madison’s presidency. The ending of this section, and the last chapter of the book, look at Madison’s presidency as a whole and assess his two terms as leader of the United States. It begins by talking about his last months as president with Wills writing about how Madison became more popular after he maneuvered out of the war. Wills uses the phrase, “Madison rode the swell of popular nationalism” (Wills, p.153) to describe Madison’s last moments as President of the United States. This surge of patriotism by Madison and the American people was in direct correlation with Madison’s now agreeable cabinet and a divided Congress now working together after the war. The government was finally doing well after a turbulent few years of partisanship. Wills then goes on to assess his presidency and begs the question to the reader asking whether or not Madison deserves credit for this peaceful time at the end of his presidential

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