Although the friendship between George Washington and James Madison was eclipsed inthe early 1790s by the alliances of Madison with Jefferson and Washington with Hamilton, theircollaboration remains central to the constitutional revolution that launched the American experimentin republican government. Washington relied heavily on Madison's advice, pen, and legislative skill,while Madison found Washington's prestige indispensable for achieving his goals for the new nation. Together, Stuart Leibiger argues, Washington and Madison struggled to conceptualize a politicalframework that would respond to the majority without violating minority rights. Stubbornly refusingto sacrifice either of these objectives, they cooperated in helping to build and implement apowerful, extremely republican constitution.Observing Washington and Madison inlight of their special relationship, Leibiger argues against a series of misconceptions about thetwo men. Madison emerges as neither a strong nationalist of the Hamiltonian variety nor a politicalconsolidationist, he did not retreat from nationalism to states' rights in the 1790s, as otherhistorians have charged. Washington, far from being a majestic figurehead, exhibits a strongconstitutional vision and firm control of his administration.By examining closelyWashington and Madison's correspondence and personal visits, Leibiger shows how a marriage ofpolitical convenience between two members of the Chesapeake elite grew into a genuine companionshipfostered by historical events and a mutual interest in agriculture and science. The development oftheir friendship, and eventual estrangement, mirrors in fascinating ways the political developmentof the early Republic.
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