Happy Birthday, Jimmy!

Today is the birthday of our greatest Framer and the genius behind our Constitution: James Madison. He would have been 272 years old. We will be celebrating tonight with a traditional Virginia dinner (with the required Virginia ham), a three-layer cake, and Madison’s favorite dessert of ice cream (I recommend the tripartite Neapolitan).

James Madison, Jr. was born on March 16, 1751 at the Belle Gove Plantation in the colony of Virginia to James Madison Sr. and Nelly Conway Madison.

Despite being only 5’4” and barely above 100 pounds, Madison proved to be an intellectual giant who shaped constitutional theory for generations.

As a Madisonian scholar, today is a day of great celebration for the man who is most responsible for our constitutional system, not to mention the Bill of Rights and our 4th President. He was a brilliant writer whose contributions to The Federalist Papers still remain required reading for lawyers and laypersons alike, particularly Federalist No. 10 (on factions) and Federalist 51 (on the separation of powers).

This year, our table will be graced by the presence of my life-sized James Madison in addition to my plethora of Madison busts. As I have constantly reminded my concerned wife, one can never have enough Madison busts.

He died of congestive heart failure at Montpelier on the morning of June 28, 1836. He was 85 — an advanced age for the time. My favorite story from his death came from his niece who asked him, “What is the matter, Uncle James?” Madison simply responded “Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear.” He then promptly passed.

So enjoy the day and celebrate in true Madisonian fashion. There is no need to be moderate. Madison understood our failings and inclinations. After all,  “if men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Just  keep your friends checked and balanced.

While I expect Dolley would not be thrilled, here is a sultry send off for James Madison at 272 years young today:

Happy Birthday, Jimmy.



56 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Jimmy!”

  1. Contemplate this *single sentence* from Fed. #10, while keeping in mind the following fact: The Federalist Papers were written for the general public.

    “It will be found, indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other.”

    I was going to include a contrast to a modern piece of political discourse, but the comparison is obscene.

  2. The War of 1812 is the biggest bust of Madison.

    Alexander Hamilton dissents from your assertion.

  3. What Madison gave us is only as worthwhile as the regard in which moral women and honorable men deem to hold it; “And therein lies the rub.” Without even approaching a false claim of sainthood for myself. it should be safe to point out that as a nation we are seriously lacking in morality and honor, especially among the so-called “Honorable.”

  4. Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.

    A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

    -James Madison

  5. Madison “would be” 247 years old? Would be? You mean he’s dead? Gosh, I didn’t even know he was sick.

  6. Hopefully someone remembered to send Julian Assange a cake celebrating US’s Freedom of Speech & Press.

    Further I do enjoy how Madison & the other Founders could with just a few sentences make such clear & declarative statements that it’s taken centuries, 100’s of 1000’s of Attorneys + judges & tomes & tomes still attempting to write away their word’s meanings & yet the fail.

  7. Madison studied under the Presbyterian minister, John Witherspoon at Princeton. Much of Madison’s political theory was shaped by the biblical Calvinist theology he learned under Witherspoon.

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