Happy Birthday, Jimmy Madison!
March 16, 2009 7:20 AM   Subscribe

James Madison is more responsible than any other single American for one of the nation's greatest characteristics -- religious freedom.
posted by VicNebulous (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I endorse this post.
posted by publius at 7:36 AM on March 16, 2009

The author does realize that the First Amendment's non-establishment clause did not apply to the States until much later, right? That the religious tests established by the states kept right on chugging until after the civil war, right?

Madison was out to protect the States not individuals and now we're stuck with his evangelical bedfellows. Thanks asshole*.

* removes toungue from cheek
posted by Pollomacho at 8:03 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks, Madison! We could use someone like you again.
posted by DU at 8:07 AM on March 16, 2009


I celebrate his birthday because he was the heart of the Constitution, and it was his intelligence that gave us the framework that allowed the construction of the expansive, yet limited, government, which is the defining social contract of modern history.
posted by dios at 8:09 AM on March 16, 2009

Pollomacho, the author has a malformed view of the issue. Hell, he could read Metafilter and learn a bit.
posted by dios at 8:23 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a religious non-American, I think anyone trying to impose religion, or religious views in governments or schools should be tried for treason.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:24 AM on March 16, 2009

As a religious non-American, I think anyone trying to impose religion, or religious views in governments or schools should be tried for treason.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:24 AM on March 16

How would it be treason? Wrong, maybe. But treasonous? When the Constitution passed, many schools in the states were provided by religions, and such practice was accepted by the First Congress who passed the First Amendment. Their concern was preventing the establishment of a national religion.

So where do you get "treason" from?
posted by dios at 8:33 AM on March 16, 2009

And his wife baked some darned tasty snacks too.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:37 AM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

I have recently come to have a great deal more respect for Madison after reading Joseph Ellis's recent book American Creation. Madison was also a strong force behind the federalist papers that helped drive a the development of a stronger central government. Ironically, Madison joined Jefferson in fighting the Federalists in forming the Republican party in his later years.

Ellis's book is also interesting in understanding how historians' interpretations can shade our perceptions of our history. Ellis is critical of Jefferson (see American Sphinx) and suggests that Jefferson and Madison's resistance to a strong central government was that it would inevitably cause slavery to be outlawed.
posted by Red58 at 8:43 AM on March 16, 2009

I'd love it if people could stop throwing around the word "treason" as a description of any sort of behavior harmful to the public good. Let's not conflate all those things.
posted by grouse at 8:44 AM on March 16, 2009

Let's give it up for ol' 5000 dollar bill Madison!
posted by Nelson at 8:45 AM on March 16, 2009

Red58 -- thanks for the Ellis book tip. Next up!
posted by VicNebulous at 8:52 AM on March 16, 2009

I believe he was responsible for the way we vote, as well. If I recall correctly, he was friends (or at least acquaintances) with Condorcet, and was heavily influenced by Condorcet's mathematical treatise on voting systems. While the Congress didn't make it as far as Arrow's Theorem about the impossibility of a perfect democratic voting system, they did discuss a bunch of different options and ended up deciding on the majority rule system (which we still use today) only after weeks of debate...and Madison, being one of the most well-educated of the bunch, was often the one raising worries about proposed alternatives.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:10 AM on March 16, 2009

Didn't he get the idea from Roger Williams? (Not me, the one everything in Rhode Island is named after.)
posted by localroger at 10:23 AM on March 16, 2009

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