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writings of

James Madison

(1751-1836)


 Memorial & Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785)
In 1785, the Virginia legislature was considering "a bill establishing a provision for teachers of the Christian religion." Madison, with this remonstrance, led the charge against the measure, on the grounds that it would represent a violation of religious liberty by intermixing church and state.

 Parties (1792)
In this article for the National Gazette, Madison, beginning from the perspective that factions are inevitable in a political society, suggests they can be contained by reducing inequalities of wealth and of rights, and by using parties as a check on one another. He contrasts his view with that of the monarchists.

 Spirit of Governments (1792)
An article for the National Gazette. Madison offers his analysis of the various forms of governments, and the "spirit which predominates in each." The third is what Madison hopes for the U.S.; the second is what the U.S. actually became.

 Who Are the Best Keepers of the People's Liberty? (1792)
Liberal democracy from the Father of the Constitution. In an article for the National Gazette, Madison, writing in the form of a dialogue, addresses various arguments made against a democratic republic.

 Excerpt from the "Detached Memoranda"
The "detached memoranda" were a series of handwritten documents discovered in 1946 among the papers of Madison scholar William Cabell Rives. Undated, they are believed to have been written somewhere between 1817 and 1832. In this excerpt, Madison writes at length about his feelings on monopolies, intellectual property, corporations, and religious liberties. A real gem.

 An excerpt from a Letter to Edward Livingston (1822)
Madison on religious liberty. Talks about the violence done to the principle by both congressional chaplains and presidential proclamations of prayer and fasting.

 Letter to William Taylor Barry (1822)
William Barry was a member of a committee of the Kentucky legislature assigned the task of researching education, as the state was then undertaking a significant public education project. Receiving a request for advice from Barry, Madison wrote perhaps his single strongest defense of public education. "The liberal appropriations made by the Legislature of Kentucky for a general system of Education cannot be too much applauded. A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

 Letter to Jasper Adams (1832)
Madison further delineates his views on religious liberties, discussing the practices of other countries as well as those of the various U.S. states.


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