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Gotti Trois | Main | Don't scratch it...


August 04, 2004

The Quiet Founder

As someone with a deep interest in the history of the Constitution's drafting and ratification, I've always been puzzled by the lack of respect, or indeed attention, popular history has given to James Madison. The recent hubbub about the possibility of putting Ronald Reagan on the ten-dollar bill, or the dime, brought the point home again: Jefferson has his nickel (and the two-dollar bill), Hamilton has the ten-spot, Ben Franklin is on the hundred, and Washington is ubiquitous on the dollar bill and the quarter. But Madison is nowhere to be found (okay, he was on the five-thousand dollar bill, but you don't see those in your wallet every day). Was it because his presidency saw the British torch the White House? Was it because he (like John Adams, another frequently overlooked founder) was short?

Anyway, a commentary on Morning Edition yesterday put it in perspective. James Madison, you see, was George Harrison, "overshadowed by stronger personalities, yet ... essential to the mix.... The famous tract we call The Federalist No. 10 was the 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' of the eighteenth century." Yes. It all makes sense now.

Ben Franklin, in case you're wondering, was Ringo.

Posted by Jeff Cooper


Posted by Lawren at August 4, 2004 10:43 AM

You Said

Great, now I've got a mental picture of old Ben behind a drum kit toking on a doobie...

Says: LDH at August 4, 2004 10:54 AM

Don't forget that Washington was Elvis.

Says: M@ at August 4, 2004 11:17 AM

Well, Professor, David McCullough put John Adams' name back in the public eye with his biography a few years back. Perhaps someone will do the same with Madison.

Perhaps also Madison is part Harrison and part Paul. Like Paul, who led Wings after the Beatles broke up, Madison had a tough act to follow after Jefferson. No matter what he did, he would be hard pressed to top that.

All is not lost though for the Madisons. Dolly did manage to get a bakery to name themselves after her.

Says: chuck at August 4, 2004 06:44 PM

And who, pray tell, was Stu Sutcliff?

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