James Madison, Leader or Destroyer Some people might come to a certain conclusion about a person and think that they might make a great teacher or a great coach, but what about a president? Someone can be great at some things, but not so great in the role of others in my opinion. James Madison was better in politics than being president and I will try to argue my opinion. When he was not president, he wrote the Constitution. When he was president, he started wars, one of them being the Revolution, but instead of fighting in said wars, he always ran away from them. James Madison was being a coward, not a leader.
He was a great man in some things and a not so much a great man in others. James Madison was a man who helped many people get their jobs in government. He did a lot for George Washington, so he was like his right hand man. He helped Washington with his presidency and he really wanted him to stay president for a longer period of time. One of the biggest key parts of James Madison’s identity is that he wrote the Constitution and, “Father of the Constitution during his lifetime, and he was borne the title ever since” (6). He was one of the fore fathers and the fourth president of the United States, but that comes later, much later.
He was also, the “Father of Politics” (12), which I think he was much better suited. When Madison was young, he found a love for books “Madison found a second family in his youth, which he kept close by for the rest of his life; books” (17). James Madison or should we call him by his second name, the “Father of the Constitution”. Some people may ask, why is he called the “Father of the Constitution”? Well that’s because he came up with the concept and wrote it down, “The Constitution, when altered”, wrote Madison, “would instantly become the mere act of Congress” (61).
He had help along the way, but it was his handy work and that was why I thought he was better in this area than being president because he had better ideas and wars were not one of them. This will help prove my point on why James Madison was more of a political man than a presidential man, “In 1789 James Madison was on top of the political world. He was the acknowledged leader of the House of Representatives” (85). The leader of the House of Representatives I would say was a much etter fit for Madison. He was Washington’s right hand man or “ghostwriter” and he always helped get people their places in congress.
For example, “Jefferson agreed in February 1790 to join the Washington administration as secretary of state” (87). He probably did this as president, but when I was reading the book, it seemed to me that James was so much better when he was the leader of the House of Representatives and he did so much more than start wars. The first political party was hard to get started because many people were so against them because they would lead to war, His dislike of factions was a universal prejudice—parties/ factions were corrupt or corrupting; they led to commotion and war” (98).
The first political party was referred to as Republicans, but today, that party is known as the Democrats, but we still have a political party known as the Republicans, I do not know how this stuff works. Just from reading the book, I was confused about how the political party was renamed. James Madison and Jefferson, “certainly had no intention of founding a party, or “faction,” as a political party was then often called” (98). There re multiple steps in building a political party and Madison went through all of them. James Madison as president led the country into wars and addressed foreign policy issues.
As president the biggest acts he made were the wars between America and Britain and those wars led to the burning of the capital in Washington, “The British arrived in the capital in the evening, the British proceeded to burn the Capitol, then moved to the White House” (209). That is why I am saying he was better in politics than being president. Every time the wars would happen, Madison would run off, Madison had left Bladensburg once the action commenced, telling Armstrong and Monroe “it would be proper” to leave military matters to the military” (208). That is not much of a president to me, he was leading the country into destruction.
This is also what got me, Armstrong took the fall for the burning of Washington, “Armstrong even more than Winder was blamed for the burning of Washington” (210). This was all on Madison’s hands, he was the one that called the war, so he is the one to blame, “Madison had put him, Winder, and Monroe in their jobs. It was his responsibility to spot incompetence and be rid of t” (211). I don’t really agree with this quote, but it is as close to Madison being at fault. With this one war, it became proof of how James Madison led the country as a president, and that he almost led it to destruction on his own part.
The American Revolution was a big part of James Madison’s presidency. Between America and Britain, it was nonstop for a couple years. James Madison supported the American Revolution by being involved in foreign policies and making treaties, “In September 1783, America and Britain signed the treaty ending the Revolutionary War” (37). His career reflected he American Revolution because as president, he was the one who started the wars between America and Britain, “So on June 1, 1812, Madison sent a war message to Congress, listing American grievances against Britain” (195).
James Madison started the war, but later on agreed that foreign policies were important, so he ended the war with a treaty, rather to finish the destruction he has started. The American Revolution was a war for independence, “The War of 1812 was a war of national self-assertion—-a second war of independence” (219). America and Britain eventually signed a reaty to end things, “the Treaty of Ghent” (218). James Madison’s goals of war have gone down to one, “necessary … to assert the rights and independence of the nation” (219).
He may have started the wars, but he had intentions for independence. With these intentions to assert the rights and independence of the nation, these wars became more of a means to assert dominance, and after the dominance was asserted other nations followed suit in signing a treaty in proof they couldn’t beat this growing force of the United States. James Madison is not known for his presidency, because he did ot make any substantial impact like he did when he wrote the Constitution.
James Madison once said “The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse”, showing that James understood the meaning behind power. James understood this meaning as a politician, but seemed to have been overtaken by it when he received the power himself. Too much power was one of the reasons James Madison’s presidency was not a memorable one, not because he stood idly by, but because he used his power to take action that led to the almost fall of Washington.