The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz.
G. P. Putnam's Sons: NY, 1989.

So much importance is placed on Thomas Jefferson and George Washington (while Madison is mostly left out) that I didn't realize how important James Madison was to the founding of the U.S. before reading Jean Fritz's book. It is one of the most exciting of her biographies (of which she has done many). Not only did Madison write the initial proposal for the Constitution, he also had to explain it to the other delegates and persuade them that it wouldn't take away the powers of their states. Through the convention called to solve the problems of the Continental Congress, he took his own secrets notes of everyone's reactions so that he could address their concerns. He also persuaded Washington of the importance of his presence. The other delegates would feel safer starting a new government knowing Washington would be the new leader. Madison's influence did not stop with the ratification of the Constitution. He continued to play an active role in the federal government until the end of his life. Sure of what was best for the country and determined to convince the rest.

This is a great book for clear understanding of the founding of the U.S. government. It is a short book but gives a much more in depth and clearer picture than textbooks.
related-U.S. Presidents, James Madison, friendship with Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution of the United States of America, slavery, history of Virginia, War of 1812, Dolley Madison, 18th-19th century, Revolutionary war

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