Jennie: James Madison

James Madison, by Garry Wills

James Madison is the picture perfect Presidential flip-flopper, but in many ways this was because he grew as a person through his years in politics. He wasn’t the best President and many of his own actions were the cause of his lackluster Presidency. He had a few obsessions that he would not let go no matter how many times they failed or floundered. For example, a trade embargo that wasn’t influential in forcing the desired outcome yet he would not give it up. His cabinet was full of sparing politicians that despised one another for their opposite party viewpoints. This lead to a lot of conspiracy and drama, rather than any sort of team effort to run the country.

One of the aspects I was most interested in was how Madison was in office when the White House was set aflame. For a building (and now practically the entire DC area) that is so well protected and revered now to be set on fire is such a hard thing for me to grasp. Madison was a strong example (and Dolly too actually) after the fire – he went right back into Washington to lead once again, not allowing the attack to disrupt the government.

This book was a rather brief look at Madison and I kind of wish I would have picked a longer book with a deeper history of his life. This book was Madison in a nutshell where I think I would have liked Madison in detail. I still picked up new information about him, but it wasn’t a vast amount of information.

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