Letter to the Editor

James Madison's legacy

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dear Editor,

James Madison (1751-1836), the fourth U.S. president, is referred to as "the father of the Constitution."

He and John Adams, our second president, set up the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government.

The Constitution is the glue that holds our country together. With the help fo the Constitution, we have survived multiple wars, international conflicts, incidents of incompetent leadership and the Civil War that divided our country from 1861 to 1865.

Physically, Madison was small and sickly. However, he was strong and very determined when he set his mind to a task. In 1787, when he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he stood his ground.

Delegates from Virginia were angry and critical of the northern colonies or states. Setting up a constitution was a threat to their plantations and the slaves who worked on them. The southern colonies said it violated their states' rights.

Our U.S. Constitution is a written one. Great Britain's constitution is an unwritten one. (It protects the traditions and powers of a constitutional monarchy.)

Madison's answer to those who objected to the Constitution on the basis that it protected human rights (even those of slaves: was addressed in the following statement:

"You must first enable the people to control the government and next obligate it to control itself."

He coined the phrase "We the people." His belief that slaves were people, too, set the stage for the "Emancipation Proclamation."

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Nebraska

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