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220th Anniversary: James Madison Drinks, and Writes an Article
A Professor Publius Short Story | 22 December 2012 | Publius

Posted on 12/22/2012 9:08:39 AM PST by Publius

James Madison Drinks, and Writes an Article

Philip Freneau had set the deadline for the December 22nd edition of the National Gazette, and James Madison found himself racing the hourglass. Freneau published the newspaper, dedicated to the positions of Thomas Jefferson’s faction within the Congress and the council around His Excellency, while working for the red-haired Secretary of State as a translator. Mr. Jefferson saw neither difficulty nor conflict with this arrangement.

Freneau had labeled the men of Alexander Hamilton’s faction as Monarchists, Tories, and Anti-Republicans, claiming their role was to reverse the results of 1776. The Secretary of the Treasury had labeled the men around Mr. Jefferson as sympathizers of the ongoing unpleasantness in France.

Though relations between Hamilton and Madison had grown testy of late, there was enough residual friendship for Alec to invite Jemmy to the tavern just off Philadelphia’s High Street for dinner and Christmas libations. Always hungry for spirited discussion and debate, Jemmy had accepted with alacrity.

Following a bottle of Madeira, Hamilton was always moved to loquacity. Because of this he was a highly sought after guest at dinners in New York, where he would hold the attention of a room with his conviviality. It was Jemmy’s earnest hope that Alec would say something to inspire the article he was to deliver to Freneau.

In addition to Madison and Hamilton, seated around the table were Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, Elias Boudinot of New Jersey, and the young, dashing Nicholas Gilman of New Hampshire.

As Jemmy swallowed his first glass of Madeira, the feeling of warmth spread from his stomach to his loins. He was going to have to be careful tonight.

James Madison was a man of abstemious habits who did not smoke, and drank only in moderation with meals. He recalled a dinner at the home of James Wilson some five years earlier during the late Convention where Wilson attempted to school Madison on his idea of direct election of the president by the people without regard to state. When that idea failed – for good reason – Wilson had designed the Electoral College on the spot. Jemmy remembered speaking with Wilson in his dining room after far too much Madeira and Port, then suddenly standing in Wilson’s yard with his hands on a wooden club on something called a “putting green”. Wilson was standing behind him, his arms wrapped around him, telling him in his soft Scottish burr of the proper way to wield a golf club against a ball. How he had gone from Wilson’s dining room to his yard was still shrouded in mystery. Jemmy made a mental note to stop drinking at a reasonable time.

Alec was working on his second bottle, and Jemmy could not help but joust with Ames and Boudinot. “Would not the people be best served by the maintenance of their own vigilance?”

Hamilton snorted. “The people? They are stupid and licentious. A mob. Once they have established a government, they should think of obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to their betters.”

Alec, you are in fine fettle tonight, he thought. I must write that one down.

”I will stipulate that slavery has been the general lot of humanity,” answered Jemmy, like the earnest student of history that he was. “People have been ignorant, asleep and divided. But what does that prove? Are you saying that because people may betray themselves, they ought to give themselves up to those who have an interest in betraying them? Should it not make more sense to conclude that the people ought to be enlightened, awakened and united? Then, after establishing a government, they should watch over it.”

Boudinot laughed. “You’re only looking at the surface, Mr. Madison. The truth is in the depths.”

”It is not the government that will fly off from the people, but the people that will fly off from the government,” Hamilton interjected acidly. “Enlighten the government, warn it to be vigilant, give it influence and arm it with force. To the people I have only one word – obey.”

Gilman looked askance at Hamilton. It was apparent to the young former officer that Hamilton was winding himself up in preparation for a five hour oration like the one he had delivered at the first session of the Philadelphia Convention. Gilman remembered painfully those five hours without a break at the pissing trough.

”Colonel Hamilton,” Gilman interjected carefully, “I should think that the centrifugal tendency is with the people, not the government. The secret lies in restraining that tendency by increasing the attractive principle of government. I should find it a perversion of the natural order of things to make power the primary and central object of the social system and liberty but a satellite.”

Hamilton swallowed a bit and deflated briefly. Jemmy made a mental note to have Jefferson speak with Gilman; he could become an ally. He swallowed another glass of Madeira in spite of the warning voice in his head. Hamilton thought a bit before responding to his young political ally.

”Colonel Gilman, the more you increase the attractive force of power, the more you enlarge the sphere of liberty. The more you make government independent from the people, the better security you provide for their rights and interests.”

”Alec, old friend,” said Jemmy with a smile, “I find that line of thought at least mysterious, if not illogical. This is not religion. This is about the institutions of man.”

”But Jemmy,” Hamilton said, with the genuine friendship shown to an intellectual equal, “this is about religion. Citizens, or subjects, require the light of faith and the spirit of obedience. Without that, government becomes the accomplice of atheism and anarchy.”

Madison, who had been trained for the ministry, found himself on familiar ground. Alexander Hamilton had just hanged himself with a noose of his own making. The article for Freneau could be written in jig time. All it required was the sting of a wasp for a conclusion. The sentence shaped itself in Madison’s brain long before his quill pen touched hemp paper.

”I denounce you to the people as a blasphemer of their rights and an idolater of tyranny.”

There! A bit too strong for an old friend, but the article would be published under a pseudonym.

Jemmy staggered out of the tavern a few hours later as the knot behind his forehead expanded to cover most of his brain. This would be a bad one, he knew. He quietly climbed the spiral staircase of Mrs. Swinton’s boarding house, entered his room and lit a candle. He had to begin the article at once before the thoughts fled him.

“Who are the best keepers of the people’s liberties?” he wrote. As he labored, his presto jig time slowed to an adagio, and then a stately largo. But he had to finish this now. Freneau was waiting.

When Mrs. Swinton rang the bell for breakfast, its tiny sound echoed in his head like the great bells of the Gloria Dei church down the street.

James Madison promised himself he would never drink again.

Who Are the Best Keepers of the People’s Liberties?

James Madison, 22 December 1792

Republican: The people themselves. The sacred trust can be nowhere so safe as in the hands most interested in preserving it.

Anti-Republican: The people are stupid, suspicious, licentious. They cannot safely trust themselves. When they have established government they should think of nothing but obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to their wiser rulers.

Republican: Although all men are born free, and all nations might be so, yet too true it is that slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant, they have been cheated; asleep, they have been surprised; divided, the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson? That because the people may betray themselves, they ought to give themselves up, blindfold, to those who have an interest in betraying them? Rather conclude that the people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch over it, as well as obey it.

Anti-Republican: You look at the surface only, where errors float, instead of fathoming the depths where truth lies hid. It is not the government that is disposed to fly off from the people, but the people that are ever ready to fly off from the government. Rather say then, enlighten the government, warn it to be vigilant, enrich it with influence, arm it with force, and to the people never pronounce but two words: submission and confidence.

Republican: The centrifugal tendency then is in the people, not in the government, and the secret art lies in restraining the tendency by augmenting the attractive principle of the government with all the weight that can be added to it. What a perversion of the natural order of things to make power the primary and central object of the social system and liberty but its satellite.

Anti-Republican: The science of the stars can never instruct you in the mysteries of government. Wonderful as it may seem, the more you increase the attractive force of power, the more you enlarge the sphere of liberty; the more you make government independent and hostile towards the people, the better security you provide for their rights and interests. Hence the wisdom of the theory, which, after limiting the share of the people to a third of the government, and lessening the influence of that share by the mode and term of delegating it, establishes two grand hereditary orders with feelings, habits, interests and prerogatives all inveterately hostile to the rights and interests of the people, yet by a mysterious operation all combining to fortify the people in both.

Republican: Mysterious indeed! But mysteries belong to religion, not to government; to the ways of the Almighty, not to the works of man. And in religion itself there is nothing mysterious to its author; the mystery lies in the dimness of the human sight. So in the institutions of man let there be no mystery, unless for those inferior beings endowed with a ray perhaps of the twilight vouchsafed to the first order of terrestrial creation.

Anti-Republican: You are destitute, I perceive, of every quality of a good citizen, or rather of a good subject. You have neither the light of faith nor the spirit of obedience. I denounce you to the government as an accomplice of atheism and anarchy.

Republican: And I forbear to denounce you to the people, though a blasphemer of their rights and an idolater of tyranny. Liberty disdains to persecute.


TOPICS: History; Humor
KEYWORDS: constitution; federalistpapers; foundingfathers; framers; vanity
It was 220 years ago today that this essay by Madison was published anonymously in the National Gazette.

George Washington was opposed to the establishment of British-style political parties with every fiber of his being, and the factions in Congress and the Cabinet didn’t morph into actual organized parties until Washington’s body had been cold for – oh – at least a few hours. At the time of this essay, Washington was in the final days of his first term, and he was watching like a hawk for the spirit of Faction within his administration to prevent it from dividing his government. Jefferson and Hamilton had been forming factions and making trouble since the day the National Bank concept had been introduced, and Washington was weary of stroking those two gigantic egos. One would not have blamed His Excellency had he gone to the stable, procured the stoutest horsewhip and laid into the backsides of both men. In his second term, Jefferson and Hamilton would both leave the Cabinet.

At the time of this essay’s publication, the factions were just starting to learn how to debate each other and define the rules for political warfare. Anonymous articles were the rule to avoid being challenged to a duel. (By the way, I believe we should bring back dueling to settle political arguments and turn the New Jersey state park in Weehauken where Burr shot Hamilton into the National Dueling Grounds with ESPN and C-SPAN covering the events.) This essay is a good example of how political warfare was waged in the early days.

Today is also another anniversary. It was fifteen years today that I stopped lurking and signed up as FReeper #581. It’s good to be here.

1 posted on 12/22/2012 9:08:54 AM PST by Publius
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To: 14themunny; 21stCenturion; 300magnum; A Strict Constructionist; abigail2; AdvisorB; Aggie Mama; ...

A little Holiday Cheer for the Federalist & Anti-Federalist Papers ping list.


2 posted on 12/22/2012 9:11:38 AM PST by Publius (Leadership starts with getting off the couch.)
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To: 14themunny; 21stCenturion; 300magnum; A Strict Constructionist; abigail2; AdvisorB; Aggie Mama; ...

A little Holiday Cheer for the Federalist & Anti-Federalist Papers ping list.


3 posted on 12/22/2012 9:12:37 AM PST by Publius (Leadership starts with getting off the couch.)
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To: ADemocratNoMore; Aggie Mama; alarm rider; alexander_busek; AlligatorEyes; AmericanGirlRising; ...

A little Holiday Cheer for the “Atlas Shrugged” ping list.


4 posted on 12/22/2012 9:14:48 AM PST by Publius (Leadership starts with getting off the couch.)
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To: AZamericonnie; ConorMacNessa; Drumbo; Kathy in Alaska; MS.BEHAVIN; LUV W; left that other site

A little Holiday Cheer for my good FRiends at the Canteen.


5 posted on 12/22/2012 9:17:14 AM PST by Publius (Leadership starts with getting off the couch.)
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To: Lazamataz; Noumenon; Travis McGee

A little Holiday Cheer for my fellow FReeper writers.


6 posted on 12/22/2012 9:18:27 AM PST by Publius (Leadership starts with getting off the couch.)
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To: Publius
Thank You, very Much...shall read. :-)

7 posted on 12/22/2012 9:21:31 AM PST by skinkinthegrass (Who'll take tomorrow,spend it all today; who can take your income & tax it all away..0Bama man can :)
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To: Publius
Thank you for posting. There was a time when essays of this type were taught in our schools.

Would that they were today.

A very Merry Christmas and FR Anniversary to you!

8 posted on 12/22/2012 9:26:13 AM PST by prisoner6 (Right Wing Nuts bolt the Constitution together as the loose screws of the Left fall out!)
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To: Publius
And I forbear to denounce you to the people, though a blasphemer of their rights and an idolater of tyranny. Liberty disdains to persecute.

Excellent post and I thank you for the history and philosophy lessons! Other than language, that quote is as accurate and timely today as it was then. The fight for liberty never ends. It hurts to watch fellow Americans surrender so easily and give up something so valuable.

9 posted on 12/22/2012 10:10:26 AM PST by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
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To: Publius

OUTSTANDING post, comment, FReeper BUMP! Happy anniversary and thanks for being here, Publius. An integral educator/historian and a rational voice in a free republic.

Merry Christmas to you and yours...and to all FReepers.


10 posted on 12/22/2012 10:20:38 AM PST by PGalt
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To: Publius

Thanks. Merry Christmas!


11 posted on 12/22/2012 11:55:27 AM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: Publius

“...By the way, I believe we should bring back dueling to settle political arguments and turn the New Jersey state park in Weehauken where Burr shot Hamilton into the National Dueling Grounds with ESPN and C-SPAN covering the events...”

Oh, Publius - this would not work out right. Mainly because the Democrats, as a general rule, usually serve in the military and Republicans do not.

So the anti-Reublicans can shoot and the Rpublicans are looking for cover!


12 posted on 12/22/2012 12:35:21 PM PST by SatinDoll (NATURAL BORN CITZEN: BORN IN THE USA OF CITIZEN PARENTS.)
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To: Publius
Alec was working on his second bottle, and Jemmy could not help but joust with Ames and Boudinot. “Would not the people be best served by the maintenance of their own vigilance?”

Hamilton snorted. “The people? They are stupid and licentious. A mob. Once they have established a government, they should think of obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to their betters.”

this seems to be the difference between The Tea Party and the Demoncrat/Rino party.

13 posted on 12/22/2012 12:55:09 PM PST by fella ("As it was before Noah, so shall it be again,")
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To: Publius
I broke my hip a while back and a nurse noticing my Hard Corps conservatism asked how she could get a true feeling for the founders.

I told her to read the Federalist and Anti federalist papers as a start.

14 posted on 12/22/2012 1:39:53 PM PST by Little Bill (A)
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To: Publius; 14themunny; 21stCenturion; 300magnum; fella; A Strict Constructionist; abigail2; ...
It was 220 years ago today that this essay by Madison was published anonymously in the National Gazette.

Anonymously? Not so.

In 1791, Jefferson and Madison needed an anti-administration newspaper for a nationwide audience. They sought out Philip Freneau, an old college friend of Madison's. The Virginians arranged financial backing, found ready subscribers and arranged a federal subsidy to help underwrite Freneau's attacks on the government via the National Gazette.

Freneau did not launch any attacks immediately. Instead, showing good business and political sense, he spent three months building a reputation for his paper as a fair and thorough purveyor of the news. Madison wrote a series of unsigned opinion pieces treating a variety of subjects in a dispassionate way.

His reputation established, Freneau published more of Madison. With each issue, the paper grew more extreme, repeating and building upon the theme that Hamilton aspired to establish monarchy, aristocracy, plutocracy and corruption.

But professor, you knew all of this right?

15 posted on 12/22/2012 3:23:15 PM PST by Jacquerie ("How few were left who had seen the republic!" - Tacitus, The Annals)
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To: SatinDoll

I hope you’re being sarcastic.


16 posted on 12/22/2012 3:26:03 PM PST by Publius (Leadership starts with getting off the couch.)
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To: Jacquerie

Actually, I didn’t. (I’m starting to think of Fox News.) Did Freneau’s readers know that Madison was writing this material?


17 posted on 12/22/2012 3:29:47 PM PST by Publius (Leadership starts with getting off the couch.)
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To: Publius

Well, sort of sarcastic.

I’ve always been surprised how many Democrats in the House of Representatives served in the military compared to the paucity of Republicans who did so.


18 posted on 12/22/2012 3:56:42 PM PST by SatinDoll (NATURAL BORN CITZEN: BORN IN THE USA OF CITIZEN PARENTS.)
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To: Jacquerie
Freneau did not launch any attacks immediately. Instead, showing good business and political sense, he spent three months building a reputation for his paper as a fair and thorough purveyor of the news... His reputation established... With each issue, the paper grew more extreme...

That sounds just like the business plan for Politico.

-PJ

19 posted on 12/22/2012 4:13:47 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you are the Posterity of We the People, then you are a Natural Born Citizen.)
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To: Jacquerie; Publius; All

FR’s finest. Where do these educators/historians/patriots come from? The attention to the details of the republic’s founding is mind-boggling.

May your families and friends have a blessed Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year. The education has been greatly appreciated. Thanks Jacquerie. Thanks Publius. Thanks to every contributor to their fantastic threads.


20 posted on 12/22/2012 9:09:10 PM PST by PGalt
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To: Publius

Poor wording on my part.


21 posted on 12/23/2012 5:43:28 AM PST by Jacquerie ("How few were left who had seen the republic!" - Tacitus, The Annals)
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To: Political Junkie Too
Politico

Good point. So little that is new is actually original.

22 posted on 12/23/2012 5:45:59 AM PST by Jacquerie ("How few were left who had seen the republic!" - Tacitus, The Annals)
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To: PGalt

And a heartfelt Merry Christmas to you!


23 posted on 12/23/2012 5:47:45 AM PST by Jacquerie ("How few were left who had seen the republic!" - Tacitus, The Annals)
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To: Publius

Thanks for that most interesting dissertation. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. God Bless.


24 posted on 12/23/2012 2:29:01 PM PST by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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