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History Mysteries

May 2024
1min read

Among the questions raised by historians in December’s “Mysteries of American History” is James Madison’s turnaround in pushing the Bill of Rights through Congress after resisting it at the Constitutional Convention. This does not seem much of a mystery to me. Madison had always been a champion of liberty and religious freedom and was outspoken on the subject as a Virginia legislator. But his goal at the convention was the enactment and ratification of the Constitution. He regarded a formal bill of rights as not particularly essential in popular governments such as that which the Constitution was to provide, and he opposed its inclusion for fear that this issue might jeopardize the fragile agreement. It was not that he opposed the concept, and once the Constitution was ratified over almost insurmountable odds and conflicting state interests, Madison was free to use his energies in behalf of the Bill of Rights.

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