- Historic Sites
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
Winter 2010 | Volume 59, Issue 4
Madison had almost 50 years of public service before him, to include the secretaryship of state under Thomas Jefferson and the presidency in his own right. His constitutional posture shifted on several occasions over those years, and he had the misfortune to be the only sitting president to have the national capital laid waste by invaders’ fire during his tenure. Life during the most formative phase of a nation’s identity, especially political life at the highest level, is always hard. But looking back, with all the advantages of hindsight, we can say without much doubt that May 1787 was Madison’s finest hour.