James Madison: Speech to the House of Representatives Proposing a Bill of Rights

(1789)

James Madison was a quiet speaker whom others often had to strain to hear, but his writings were known for their logical rigor and clarity. Madison was rarely willing to compromise vital principles, and his advocacy of a constitution that embodied some compromises that he had opposed, as well as his work on behalf of a bill of rights that he did not initially consider to be necessary, demonstrated that he could be flexible in pursuit of higher principles. A bill of rights was strongly favored, and so upon his election to the House of Representatives, Madison agreed to compile amending proposals to the U.S. Constitution. In his Speech to the House of Representatives Proposing a Bill of Rights, he cites failure to act on such a bill as presenting a danger to the structure of the new government.

 

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James Madison (Library of Congress)

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