Becoming Madison

Book Discussions, Full Video, Videos
Published on Apr 16, 2015

Historian Michael Signer, who has served as counsel to Governor Mark Warner in Richmond and as senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress, discusses the early life of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, the Founding Father who did the most but is known the least. Signer focuses on Madison before he turned thirty-six, the years in which he did his most enduring work: battling with Patrick Henry, the most charismatic politician in revolutionary America, whose political philosophy and ruthless tactics eerily foreshadowed those of today’s Tea Party-over religious freedom; introducing his framework for a strong central government; becoming the intellectual godfather of the Constitution; and providing a crucial role at Virginia’s convention to ratify the Constitution in 1788, when the nation’s future hung in the balance. Signer pays especially close attention to “Madison’s Method,” the means by which Madison systematically destroyed dangerous ideas and left in their stead an enduring and positive vision for the United States, and will explain why he believes the young James Madison is a role model for today’s leaders. Mr. Signer will be in conversation with Angelo Angelis, Professor of History, Hunter College.