the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

19 it is unlikely that jefferson understood what

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19 It is unlikely that Jefferson understood what Madison was saying, since the idea that the greatest threat to the rights of the people could be popular opinion was impossible to imagine from a Jeffersonian perspective. At any rate, Jefferson never addressed Madison’s argument and simply held firm to his core conviction: “As to the bill of rights, however, I still think it should be added.” In response to Madison’s claim that no bill of rights could possibly cover all the possible abuses, Jefferson countered that “half a loaf is better than no bread.” 20 As we have seen, Madison had reached the same conclusion by January 1789, though not for the reasons Jefferson had offered. He apparently made up his mind to lead the movement for a bill of rights during his campaign for a seat in the House. It was a difficult campaign because Henry had persuaded James Monroe, another Jefferson protégé and sometime friend of Madison, to run against him, and redefine the borders of Madison’s district—what would later be called “gerrymandering”—to tilt the playing field. It didn’t work—Madison won handily, 1,308 to 972—but in the course of the campaign he came under relentless pressure from his erstwhile constituents to support the recommended amendments of the
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Virginia convention. That pushed him over the line. He let it be known that if elected, he would take up the cause of amendments. “It is my sincere desire,” he now vowed, “that the Constitution ought to be revised, and that the first Congress meeting under it ought to prepare and recommend to the States for ratification, the most satisfactory provisions for all essential rights, particularly the rights of conscience in the fullest latitude, the freedom of the press, trials by jury, security against general warrants, etc.” 21 In truth, he still did not share Jefferson’s faith in the efficacy of written lists of rights, and he believed that the greatest protection of individual rights was already embedded in the political framework created by the Constitution. But the political reasons for going forward were now clearer than ever: his Virginia constituents wanted amendments; a bill of rights would undermine the subversive second convention movement; and reluctant ratifiers in six states would learn that he was listening. As he put it to Jefferson, such an act of conciliation would “extinguish opposition to the system, or at least break the force of it by detaching the deluded opponents from their designing leaders.” In short, he viewed the movement for a bill of rights not as an opportunity to glimpse the abiding truths, but as the final step in the ratification process. 22 Madison was in an excellent position to act on his promise. He was generally recognized as the “first man” in the House. His central role at the Constitutional Convention, his contribution to the Federalist Papers, and then his prominence at the Virginia convention had made him, for the first time, a conspicuous national figure. Soon after his inauguration, Washington had asked him to draft a letter to the
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