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Proposed Amendments to the Constitution
Introducing the Bill of Rights
Objections to the Constitution
The Virginia Plan
On the Eve of the Convention
The Case for Religious Freedom
An Attempt to Establish a Library of Congress
Proposed Amendments to the Constitution Image | HTML | PDF
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Introducing the Bill of Rights Image | HTML | PDF

Madison used this outline to guide him in delivering his speech introducing the Bill of Rights at the First Federal Congress (June 8, 1789).

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Objections to the Constitution Image | HTML | PDF
This letter to Jefferson is written partly in a private code that he and Madison shared. The "translation" of the code (i.e. the letters inscribed above the numbers) is in Jefferson's hand. In the letter Madison discusses the jockeying in New England for the vice-presidency in the new national government and describes some of the reasons for opposition to the Constitution. Many of the opponents, Madison tells Jefferson, were self-interested advocates of measures to obstruct creditors: others, however, opposed the constitution for "honorable and patriotic motives," believing that it suffered from the absence of a bill of rights. Madison reported that he "never thought the omission a material defect nor [had] been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment."
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The Virginia Plan Image | HTML | PDF
Here is George Washington's copy of the Virginia Plan, the blueprint for a new government introduced into the Philadelphia Convention (May 29, 1787) by Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia. The Virginia Plan contained Madison's ideas for the new government, which he had proposed to both Washington and Randolph in the weeks preceding the Convention. It was refined by the Virginia delegation in Philadelphia before being introduced.
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On the Eve of the Convention Image | HTML | PDF
In this letter written on the eve of the Philadelphia Convention, Madison describes to Washington the measures that should be taken to rescue the nation from the difficulties confronting it. Many of his suggestions -- a strong national executive, federal judicial supremacy, and representation by population -- were written into the constitution; however, a significant one -- a federal veto on state laws -- was rejected.
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The Case for Religious Freedom Image | HTML | PDF
Written in the summer of 1785 in opposition to Patrick Henry's bill proposing general religious taxes, Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance" has grown in stature over time and is now regarded as one of the most significant American statements on the relationship of government to religion. Madison grounded his objections to Henry's bill on the civil libertarian argument that it violated the citizen's "unalienable" natural right to freedom of religion and on the practical ground that government's embrace of religion inevitably harmed it.
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An Attempt to Establish a Library of Congress Image | HTML | PDF
On January 23, 1783, a committee chaired by Madison submitted a list of approximately 1300 books to the Confederation Congress. Described as "proper for the use of Congress," the books were compiled by Madison who was assisted by Thomas Jefferson. Madison urged that "it was indispensable that congress should have at all times at command" authorities on public law whose expertise "would render . . . their proceedings conformable to propriety; and it was observed that the want of this information was manifest in several important acts of Congress." Madison's proposal was defeated because of "the inconveniency of advancing even a few hundred pounds at this crisis."
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