TAMPA, June 1, 2012 – Everyone has their version of the founding fathers and the U.S. Constitution. The most common is that the British colonies rebelled against their king because of “taxation without representation” and formed an independent republic. Their first try at a government didn’t work, so the best and the brightest among them met in Philadelphia and devised a new one. United in their desire to “form a more perfect union,” the delegates placed their trust in the “father of the Constitution,” James Madison, who masterfully wove “checks and balances” into a document that codified the limited government principles he would fight for the rest of his life.
That’s a nice, sentimental story, but the real one is far more interesting. If you want to know what really happened, then pick up a copy of James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin R. C. Gutzman.
Meticulously researched using primary and secondary sources, Gutzman’s book covers most of Madison’s life, concentrating on his key role in bringing about the constitutional convention and subsequent ratification of the Constitution itself. Gutzman follows the Philadelphia Convention almost day by day, managing to keep the story downright riveting without resorting to the “historical novel” format popular in recent decades. While doing so, he blows up just about every myth about Madison, his colleagues and the Constitution.