Madison's place among the Founding Fathers reveals the necessary qualities of his public career. Not gifted with Washington's influential presence or instinctive good judgment, he was more expressive and more creative than the first president. He lacked Franklin's extensiveness of interest, communicable wit, and unique political style, but he more deeply understood the problems of government. John Adams was more educated and more mindful of the stubborn, catastrophic dilemmas of human life, but Madison was more skilled at creating institutions likely to cope in some way with those problems. Jefferson had a finer vision of the potential for life under republican government, a greater aptitude for leadership, and a special gift for the brilliant expression, but Madison had a more subtle and keen political sense. Finally, though Hamilton was more brilliant in argument and more proficient at offering complete plans, Madison was more faithful to republican values and more aware of the constraints that human need and diversity should place on the designs of the nation's leaders.
Madison's easy election as president in 1808 continued the "Virginia dynasty," meaning the first five presidents of the United States were from Virginia. Madison also had to overcome resistance that favored his friend James... [continues]
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