Madison’s Radical Agenda

A diminutive, persuasive Virginian hijacked the Constitutional Convention and forced the moderates to accept a national government with vastly expanded powers

On May 5, 1787, James Madison arrived in Philadelphia. He was a diminutive young Virginian—about five feet three inches tall, 130 pounds, 36 years old—who, it so happened, had thought more deeply about the political problems posed by the current government under the Articles of Confederation than any other American. Read more »

Mr. Franklin’s Leadership Maxims

At the first meeting of my first class in business school, our instructor divided the class into groups and gave each group a project. “Most of you are going to spend the rest of your lives trying to get things done in or through groups,” he told us, “so you might as well start now.” Read more »

The Witch & We, The People

Did the fifty-five statesmen meeting in Philadelphia at the Constitutional Convention know that a witch-hunt was taking place while they deliberated? Did they care?

 

SEVENTEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN was not that long ago. It will be four years before we can celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of what happened in Philadelphia that summer. And it will be something worth celebrating. The United States Constitution was the culminating achievement of the Enlightenment in America, if not in the world.Read more »

The Trumpet Sounds Again

WASHINGTON AFTER THE REVOLUTION: II

Washington had, during 1775, attended the Second Continental Congress as a delegate from what he then regarded as “my country,” Virginia. Virginia was considering a military alliance with the other twelve colonies, but to achieve this was no easy matter. During their long histories the colonies had been jealous of each other, with practically no political connection other than that which was now dissolving: their allegiance to the crown.

 
Read more »

The Constitution: Was It An Economic Document?

A leading American historian challenges the long-entrenched interpretation originated by the late Charles A. Beard

By June 26, 1787, tempers in the Federal Convention were already growing short, lor gentlemen had come to the explosive question of representation in the upper chamber. Two days later Franklin moved to invoke divine guidance, and his motion was shunted aside only because there was no money with which to pay a chaplain and the members were unprepared to appeal to Heaven without an intermediary.