The Mind of James Madison: The Legacy of Classical by Colleen A. Sheehan

By Colleen A. Sheehan

This booklet presents a compelling and incisive portrait of James Madison the student and political thinker. via wide historic study and research of Madison's heretofore underappreciated 1791 "Notes on Government," Madison's scholarly contributions are forged in a brand new gentle, yielding a richer, extra finished figuring out of his political proposal than ever earlier than. Tracing Madison's highbrow investigations of republics and philosophers, either old and smooth, this e-book invitations the reader to appreciate the pioneering principles of the best American pupil of politics and republicanism - and, within the method, to find anew the huge percentages and capability of that fab test in self-government referred to as the yankee republic.

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In spring 1791, with Barthélemy’s books spread around him in his cramped quarters at Fifth and Market, Madison became a fellow traveler with Anacharsis on his voyage imaginaire to the world of the Classics. 49 Leo Strauss, “Lectures on Aristotle’s Politics” (Lecture XI:13–14, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, autumn 1967). I am grateful to Joseph Cropsey for granting me permission to cite Professor Strauss’ lectures. 2 Circumstantial influences on government The first section of the “Notes on Government” consists of three chapters concerning circumstantial influences on government: territorial size, foreign danger, and the stage of society.

A plethora of scholars flocked to follow his lead, including the eighteenth-century Scottish school of philosophic historians. Like Montesquieu, Madison also identified the fundamental problems of the classical small republic as internal insecurity caused by majority faction and external safety resulting from its obvious weakness vis-à-vis larger states, particularly powerful empires bent on conquest. However, Madison believed that neither the great oracles of ancient nor those of modern political wisdom had sufficiently remedied the internal and external dangers associated with republican government, for neither had adequately treated the ever threatening, potentially undermining force of the power of public opinion in government.

Carhart, “The Enlightenments of J. G. A. Pocock,” Cromohs 6 [2001], www. html); cf. Michael C. Carhart and John Robertson, “The Enlightenments of J. G. A. Pocock,” Storia della Storiografia – History of Historiography 39 (2001): 123–51. Diogenes Laërtius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, trans. C. D. Yonge (London: George Bell & Sons, 1895), 47. The nonfictional Anacharsis was a Scythian who traveled to Greece in early sixth century BC to study Greek institutions and customs. He was the first foreigner to be made an Athenian citizen and, according to some ancient writers, was one of the Seven Sages of Greece.

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