Catalogue


The last of the fathers : James Madison and the Republican legacy /
Drew R. McCoy.
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
description
xvii, 386 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0521364078
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
isbn
0521364078
catalogue key
1825458
 
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1989-10:
In this brilliantly conceived and original study, McCoy focuses on the last 20 years of James Madison's life. The book superbly illuminates Madison's struggle to straddle two vastly different worlds of political and cultural experience: the neoclassical, republican world of the Founding Fathers and the antebellum society of romantic democracy. The originality of this work lies in McCoy's ability to mediate between Madison's historical understanding of the Constitution and the way that republican vision shaped his reaction to the young nation's major problems, especially the nullification crisis and the antislavery movement. Using the lives of three of Madison's disciples, McCoy shows how their mentor's tragically flawed vision of antislavery republicanism, emphasizing reason and compromise, was torn asunder by passionate individualism into proslavery and abolitionism, and eventually led to the Civil War. The Last of the Fathers adds an important intellectual dimension to all previous biographical studies of Madison and histories of antebellum America. A major work--beautifully written and highly recommended. College, university, and public libraries. -E. W. Carp, Pacific Lutheran University
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1989-03-10:
Even though James Madison disliked and publicly condemned slavery, this slave-owning president and Virginia planter does not get high marks from most modern historians for his stance on that issue; indeed, his support for extending slavery into the Western territories has led some critics to call him a pro-slavery expansionist. To Harvard historian McCoy, ``the Sage of Montpelier'' was a prisoner of his republican idealism, tragically tied to the conventions of his native soil. This apologetic, revisionist biographical study will stir up controversy among scholars. For the general reader, its focus on Madison's years of retirement (from 1817 until his death in 1836) gives us a prescient sage leery of the ``nullifiers'' who touted states' inherent right to secede from the union. The mature Madison was haunted by the specter of an industrializing society faced with the prospect of mass unemployment and a poor, propertyless class--problems that plague us today. Illustrations. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1989-04-15:
McCoy's excellent and richly detailed work picks up where others leave off, at Madison's retirement in 1817. The focus is on Madison (1751-1836), the exponent of an 18th-century ``republican faith'' and his ``persistent effort to comprehend--and influence--the fate of the Revolutionary vision as he encountered both its failures and the shocks of the new era.''Included are Madison's reactions to the Missouri Compromise, the Marshall Court, tariff laws, and the Nullification Crisis of the early 1830s. Though sympathetic, McCoy does not shrink from dealing with Madison's shortcomings. This is especially the case on the issue of slavery, which is exceptionally well handled. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries.-- Roy H. Tyron, South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History, Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
‘What makes this thoroughly researched study all the more enjoyable is McCoy’s accomplishment as a biographer. He knows Madison; he is acquainted with the man rather than with an historical figure. As a result, the reader stands beside Madison in two stormy, antebellum decades. One can understand his thinking and anticipate his actions. This is superb historical reporting. Both Madison and McCoy will receive accolades as a result of this new treatment.’Richmond News Leader
'This inquiry into a complex mind and fascinating personality will please any reader looking for a rigorous but perfectly accessible treatment of Madison's accomplishments and contributions.' Book List
‘This inquiry into a complex mind and fascinating personality will please any reader looking for a rigorous but perfectly accessible treatment of Madison's accomplishments and contributions.’Book List
"What makes this thoroughly researched study all the more enjoyable is McCoy's accomplishment as a biographer. He knows Madison; he is acquainted with the man rather than with an historical figure. As a result, the reader stands beside Madison in two stormy, antebellum decades. One can understand his thinking and anticipate his actions. That is superb historical reporting. Both Madison and McCoy will receive accolades as a result of this new treatment." James Robertson, Richmond News Leader
'What makes this thoroughly researched study all the more enjoyable is McCoy's accomplishment as a biographer. He knows Madison; he is acquainted with the man rather than with an historical figure. As a result, the reader stands beside Madison in two stormy, antebellum decades. One can understand his thinking and anticipate his actions. This is superb historical reporting. Both Madison and McCoy will receive accolades as a result of this new treatment.' Richmond News Leader
"...a subtle, shapely and intriguing meditation on Madison's life, personality and political theory." Timothy Foote, Washington Post Book World
'By focusing on Madison's later years, Drew McCoy has given us a brilliant analysis of Madison's conservatism, and of the way it operated in his reactions to the issues of his day. More important, he has shown how those issues emerged from the Constitution itself, as the conflicts it subdued grew too strong to be contained within the political framework it furnished ... It is a searching commentary on the ambiguities in the original Constitution of the world's greatest republic.' The New Republic
"...there's a wholeness that's achieved through McCoy's thorough understanding of the complex details--as well as the implications of the issues he views from Madison's unique perspective." Kirkus Reviews
"In this brilliantly conceived and original study, McCoy focuses on the last 20 years of James Madison's life. The book superbly illuminates Madison's struggle to straddle two vastly different worlds of political and cultural experience: the neoclassical, republican world of the Founding Fathers and the antebellum society of romantic democracy...The Last of the Fathers adds an important intellectual dimension to all previous biographical studies of Madison and histories of antebellum America. A major work--beautifully written and highly recommended." E. W. Carp, Choice
"...excellent and richly detailed work...Though sympathetic, McCoy does not shrink from dealing with Madison's shortcomings. This is especially the case on the issue of slavery, which is exceptionally well handled. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries." Library Journal
"Effectively employing biographical sketches against the background of the republican legacy to reveal a nation losing its way and a Union dividng, McCoy weaves a complex tapestry worthy of study." Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., Constitution
"...a brilliant analysis of Madison's conservatism, and of the way it operated in his reactions to the issues of his day. More important, he has shown how those issues emerged from the Constitution itself, as the conflicts it subdued grew too strong to be contained within the political framework it furnished...McCoy's sketch of Rives juxtaposed to his analysis of Madison is not a casual epilogue. Nor is his book simply a study of America's greatest conservative thinker. It is a searching commentary on the ambiguities in the original Constitution of the world's greatest republic." Edmund S. Morgan, The New Republic
‘By focusing on Madison’s later years, Drew McCoy has given us a brilliant analysis of Madison’s conservatism, and of the way it operated in his reactions to the issues of his day. More important, he has shown how those issues emerged from the Constitution itself, as the conflicts it subdued grew too strong to be contained within the political framework it furnished … It is a searching commentary on the ambiguities in the original Constitution of the world’s greatest republic.’The New Republic
"Drew McCoy's superb study gives us Madison in his retirement, looking back on these crucial years with the wisdom--and illusions--of his determinedly optimistic old age....McCoy, author of the influential Elusive Republic (1980), makes another valuable contribution here to the ongoing scholarly debate on republicanism, but not at the expense of the general reader....McCoy makes Madison accessible and attractive to modern readers, even while making an important point to his specialist colleagues. McCoy takes brilliant advantage of this quasi-biographical form; his analysis of Madison's reflections in retirement on his achievements as a founder illuminates both periods--and the man." Peter S. Onuf, Journal of the Early Republic
"A beautifully written, sympathetic biography of Madison in the years after his presidency, Professor McCoy's book is at the same time a penetrating account of the transformation of republican values in the United States in the years between the framing of the Constitution and the advent of Jacksonian democracy." From the John H. Dunning Prize Citation
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, March 1989
Library Journal, April 1989
Choice, October 1989
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Description for Bookstore
James Madison lived a truly extraordinary life, from a sickly teenager, through to a leading figure in the American Revolution and 'father of the constitution', to an old age in which he witnessed the effects of his Revolutionary actions. This is a prizewinning highly personal biography.
Main Description
Born in the middle of the eighteenth century as a subject of King George II, James Madison, father of the United States Constitution, lived until 1836, dying as a citizen of Andrew Jackson's republic. For over forty years he played a pivotal role in the creation and defence of a new political order but he also lived long enough to see the system of government he had nurtured threatened by disruptive forces that would ultimately lead to civil war. In this book, Drew McCoy tells the poignant story of Madison's reckoning of his generation's spectacular political achievement.
Main Description
James Madison survived longer than any other member of the most remarkable generation of political leaders in American history. Born in the middle of the eighteenth century as a subject of King George II, the Father of the United States Constitution lived until 1836, when he died a citizen of Andrew Jackson's republic. For over forty years he played a pivotal role in the creation and defense of a new political order. He lived long enough to see even that Revolutionary world transformed, and the system of government he had nurtured threatened by the disruptive forces of a new era that would ultimately lead to civil war. In recounting the experience of Madison and several of his legatees who witnessed the violent test of whether his republic could endure, McCoy dramatizes the actual working out in human lives of critical cultural and political issues.
Description for Bookstore
In recounting the experience of Madison and several of his legatees who witnessed the violent test of whether his republic could endure, this study dramatizes the human side of critical cultural and political issues.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Preface
Prologue
The character of the good statesman
The character of the good republic: justice, stability, and the constitution
Retrospect and prospect: Congress and the perils of popular government
Memory and meaning: nullification and the lost world of the founding
The republic transformed: population, economy, and society
Accommodation: the old dominion
Despair: the peculiar institution
Legacy: the strange career of William Cebell Rives
Epilogue
Acknowledgements
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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