James Madison survived longer than any other member of the most remarkable generation of political leaders in American history. Born in the middle of the eighteenth century as a subject of King George II, the Father of the United States Constitution lived until 1836, when he died a citizen of Andrew Jackson's republic. For over forty years he played a pivotal role in the creation and defense of a new political order. He lived long enough to see even that Revolutionary world transformed, and the system of government he had nurtured threatened by the disruptive forces of a new era that would ultimately lead to civil war. In recounting the experience of Madison and several of his legatees who witnessed the violent test of whether his republic could endure, McCoy dramatizes the actual working out in human lives of critical cultural and political issues.
'What makes this thoroughly researched study all the more enjoyable is McCoy's accomplishment as a biographer. He knows Madison; he is acquainted with the man rather than with an historical figure. As a result, the reader stands beside Madison in two stormy, antebellum decades. One can understand his thinking and anticipate his actions. This is superb historical reporting. Both Madison and McCoy will receive accolades as a result of this new treatment.' Richmond News Leader 'By focusing on Madison's later years, Drew McCoy has given us a brilliant analysis of Madison's conservatism, and of the way it operated in his reactions to the issues of his day. More important, he has shown how those issues emerged from the Constitution itself, as the conflicts it subdued grew too strong to be contained within the political framework it furnished ... It is a searching commentary on the ambiguities in the original Constitution of the world's greatest republic.' The New Republic 'This inquiry into a complex mind and fascinating personality will please any reader looking for a rigorous but perfectly accessible treatment of Madison's accomplishments and contributions.' Book List