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The Constitution & The Bill of Rights
Volume 50, Program 34
2/26/2004
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James Madison is credited with being the principal writer of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. On today's Home School Heartbeat Mike Smith discusses Madison's success. Let's join him now.

    Mike Smith:
    James Madison was well prepared for the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention.

    In 1786, he had attended the Annapolis convention, which was the precursor to the federal convention.

    And before the next federal convention, Madison combed through ancient and modern texts for wisdom and insight concerning the problems that had plagued popular governments over the ages.

    Madison developed the "Virginia Plan," which called for a stronger central government and a bicameral legislature. This plan essentially became the federal government structure we know today.

    Madison was the leading figure at the constitutional convention. He spoke over 161 times—more than any other attendee except New York's Gouverneur Morris.

    Madison also kept an accurate and detailed record of the debates. Scholars use his notes to gain insight into the ebb and flow of the debate during this crucial time in America's history.

    Reflecting on his work, Madison wrote these words on the future of America:

    "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of . . . our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

    And until next time, I'm Mike Smith.

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