• A More or Less Perfect Union: Madison, Jefferson & Books
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    A More or Less Perfect Union: Madison, Jefferson & Books

    Here we are in Philadelphia, in the summer of 1787. The states are disunited. The economy is in depression. And other nations walk all over us. And no one has a solution. Except this man. Five-foot four, 36, and hyper prepared: James Madison. He’d already helped write the constitution of Virginia when he was all of twenty-five. He had spent his life in training for this, whether he knew it or not. He was small in stature and lawyerly, legalistic, not very quotable. People tended to kind of zone out when he started to speak. He preferred to work in the background, quietly, he didn’t mind if others took credit…

  • A More or Less Perfect Union – Trailer
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    A More or Less Perfect Union – Trailer

    The Constitution protects us from an overreaching government. It’s the set of rules that our, that our country ideally adheres to. It’s a collective we. For more than two centuries, Americans have fought to establish liberty, expand liberty. And preserve liberty. Government has to explain itself to individuals, not the other way around. That’s the presumption of liberty. I’m Doug Ginsburg, and I’m a Federal Judge. As Americans, we have a strong belief, that no government should be able to tell us what we must say or must not say. That idea has always been under siege, and always will be. The original sin of the Constitution was its treatment…

  • Drunk History – Dolley Madison Protects America’s National Treasures
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    Drunk History – Dolley Madison Protects America’s National Treasures

    SO WHEN BRITAIN–WHEN THEY ARRIVED ON THE SHORES, THIS BRITISH GUYS SHOW UP, AND THEY’RE LIKE, AWESOME. LIKE, NO ONE’S HERE. SO WE’LL JUST DROP ANCHOR AND START TRASHING THE PLACE. WHILE DOLLEY AND JAMES WERE IN THE WHITE HOUSE, THEY GET WORD THAT HOLY [bleep], THESE GUYS HAVE LANDED, AND THEY’RE HEADING THIS WAY. SO JAMES MADISON’S LIKE, YOU KNOW WHAT? I’M GONNA GET ON A HORSE, AND I’M GONNA GO THERE, AND I’M GONNA BE LIKE, GUESS WHAT? KNOCK, KNOCK. PRESIDENT’S HERE. AND SHE’S LIKE, OKAY, SEE YOU FOR DINNER. JAMES LEAVES. SHE STAYS IN THE WHITE HOUSE WHILE EVERYBODY ELSE IN WASHINGTON IS KIND OF BEING PUSSIES…

  • Articles

    The incredible history of the 2nd Amendment and America’s gun violence problem | Jill Lepore

    One of the more interesting theories about the nature of gun violence in the United States and the quite high homicide rate in the United States, both of which distinguish the United States from other similar nations, has to do with at what moment in time the United States became independent and why the Second Amendment ends up in the Bill of Rights, which is written by Madison. In the theory it is that most states, that is nation states, pursued a historical course that led to the state having a monopoly on violence before the state became fully democratized, that is to say the government essentially seizes the weapons…

  • The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 23
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    The Federalist Papers | Federalist No. 23

    FEDERALIST No. 23. The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to the Preservation of the Union From the New York Packet. Tuesday, December 18, 1787. HAMILTON To the People of the State of New York: THE necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union, is the point at the examination of which we are now arrived. This inquiry will naturally divide itself into three branches—the objects to be provided for by the federal government, the quantity of power necessary to the accomplishment of those objects, the persons upon whom that power ought to operate. Its distribution…

  • Treating the Constitution Like Silly Putty
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    Treating the Constitution Like Silly Putty

    A lot of people treat the constitution like silly putty. If you’ve ever played with silly putty, you know you can stick it on newsprint and it will pick up a mirror image of the page. A lot of people think they can do the same thing with the constitution. They stick on to whatever political opinion they like and imagine the constitution just picks it up. Then they pull on the edges to create new and interesting forms that were never approved by the people who gave it legal force. This is pretty much what people are doing when they claim the constitution is living and breathing and was…

  • Would the Founding Fathers Impeach Trump? with Robert Reich
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    Would the Founding Fathers Impeach Trump? with Robert Reich

    Trump has asked a foreign power to dig up dirt on a major political rival. This is an impeachable offense. Come back in time with me. In late May 1787, when 55 delegates gathered in Philadelphia to begin debate over a new Constitution, everyone knew the first person to be president would be the man who presided over that gathering: George Washington. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “The first man put at the helm will be a good one,” but “Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards.” Initially, some of the delegates didn’t want to include impeachment in the Constitution, arguing that if a president was bad he’d be voted…

  • The ‘Nightmare’ of a Tweeting President
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    The ‘Nightmare’ of a Tweeting President

    The idea of a tweeting president would have been a Madisonian dystopia. Madison said in Federalist Ten that direct communication between representatives and their constituents was an evil to be avoided because it could hasten mob rule. Think of the president’s tweets. And this is not just President Trump; President Obama was the first tweeting president. Insulting people, putting them down, angrily denouncing them. The American founders Madison and Hamilton fear that mobs, or factions as they call them, were mobilized when they’re animated by passion rather than reason. And to the degree that social media technology makes it possible to have instant polls and to aggregate mobilized minorities or…