James Madison

A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation

By Jeff Broadwater

288 pp., 6.14 x 9.21, 10 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2831-8
    Published: February 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6991-8
    Published: March 2012
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8440-4
    Published: March 2012

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Awards & distinctions

2012 Ragan Old North State Award, North Carolina Literary and Historical Association

James Madison is remembered primarily as a systematic political theorist, but this bookish and unassuming man was also a practical politician who strove for balance in an age of revolution. In this biography, Jeff Broadwater focuses on Madison's role in the battle for religious freedom in Virginia, his contributions to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, his place in the evolution of the party system, his relationship with Dolley Madison, his performance as a wartime commander in chief, and his views on slavery. From Broadwater's perspective, no single figure can tell us more about the origins of the American republic than our fourth president.

In these pages, Madison emerges as a remarkably resilient politician, an unlikely wartime leader who survived repeated setbacks in the War of 1812 with his popularity intact. Yet Broadwater shows that despite his keen intelligence, the more Madison thought about one issue, race, the more muddled his thinking became, and his conviction that white prejudices were intractable prevented him from fully grappling with the dilemma of American slavery.

About the Author

Jeff Broadwater is professor of history at Barton College and author of George Mason, Forgotten Founder.
For more information about Jeff Broadwater, visit the Author Page.


"Deal[s] with the whole man and with the complete story of [Madison's] life insofar as the biographer can limn it. . . . Restore[s] Madison's humanity."--The Wall Street Journal

[James Madison] will appeal to readers looking for an in-depth analysis of Madison’s revolutionary thinking."--ForeWord Reviews

“[Broadwater’s] biography is very solid and scholarly. . . the best medium-sized life of Madison that we have.”--Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books

"Meticulously researched and surprisingly readable. . . . History buffs and early-America aficionados will find Broadwater's work indispensable."--Publishers Weekly

"In an engagingly formulated work of synthesis, Broadwater offers a compelling view of the essential Madison. . . . [His] clear writing style and contextual explanations make this work especially appealing to incipient scholars and general readers."--Library Journal

“Highly recommended. General readers and undergraduate collections.”--Choice