AIF Blog

The Three Lives of James Madison

Oct 31, 2017
CATEGORY: Society, U.S.A.

Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman speaks at the Aspen Ideas Festival.


If James Madison, a founding father and America's fourth president, were to run for office today, he would struggle to get elected. Author of a new biography on Madison, Noah Feldman, says he was a deeply serious person who hated speaking in front of crowds and loathed asking people to vote for him. His skill of analyzing problems in a rational way, though, was essential in building a new nation.

Feldman talked about his book The Three Lives of James Madison at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June. He says Madison's three most significant contributions were made during three different periods in his life. He designed the Constitution, led the struggle for its adoption and radification, then drafted the Bill of Rights. Madison was modest in his personal manner, Feldman says, but not modest in his aspirations. He created modern constitutional thought and invented federalism. "If federalism was a new kind of constitutional physics, Madison was its Einstein or its Newton. And, he thought so."

Discover more about what's discussed in this episode by exploring the links below.

“Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here.


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