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Founding Rivals -Madison vs. Monroe- The Bill of RIghts and The Election that Saved a Nation
Founding Rivals -Madison vs Monroe- The Bill of RIghts and The Election that Saved a Nation Author:Chris DeRose It was the first-ever Congressional election under the new U.S. Constitution, and voters in Virginia's 5th District faced a momentous choice: On the Federalist side was James Madison, determined to defend the Constitution he worked so hard to create. Against him stood James Monroe, and Anti-Federalist opponent of the Constitution. Both men were ... more »well known to their constituents--and, indeed, throughout all thirteen states. Both had served with distinction in the Virginia House of Delegates and the national Congress of the Confederation. Madison was the most formidable political thinker of his day; Monroe, who had been gravely wounded in the Battle of Trenton, was a bona fide hero of the Revolution.
Much rode on the election's outcome. For Founding Rivals author Chris DeRose, the race was pivotal in determining whether the new nation, its governments restructured under the Constitution, would survive. Anti-Federalist sympathy ran high in the largely rural Virginia district, and Monroe was initially favored to win. But Madison fought hard, engaging Monroe in a series of debates that prefigured modern-day "retail campaigning," and pulled off the near-impossible, beating his opponent by a mere 336 votes. As a leading figure in the new U.S. Congress, Madison would champion the Bill of Rights--the constitutional amendments that quelled Anti-constitutional amendments that quelled Ant-Federalist fervor and prevented the country from breaking apart.
That 1789 congressional contest serves as the touchstone for this remarkable double biography of the "two Jameses" of Virginia, both proteges of Thomas Jefferson who would, like their mentor, go on to become president of the United States. Physically and temperamentally dissimilar--the diminutive Madison was bookish and sickly; the strapping Monroe relished wartime adventure and rough travel in the American hinterland--they shared a passionate dedication to public service. And, despite their political rivalry, they maintained a deep friendship, cemented by constant correspondence, that lasted until death
By embedding these great patriots' life stories in the larger story of their time, DeRose brings early American history to vivid life. Founding Rivals reveals the hardship of the Revolutionary War, when success against Britain was often in doubt. It exposes the very real economic, military, and diplomatic difficulties that beset the week, acrimonious U.S. government under the Articles of Confederation, And it communicates the high drama of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and, then the Virginia Ratification Convention of 1778, where the fate of the fledgling nation hung in the balance.« less