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When to Change Your Mind… and When Not to

August 13, 2013

James Madison was a Jeffersonian Republican who served two terms as President.  When he realized that Jefferson’s ideal of an agrarian republic was not realistic, Madison changed his mind regarding economic policy.  He signed the law which chartered a United States Bank and called for higher tariffs to protect American manufacturing.

However, Madison did not change his mind regarding the strict interpretation of the Constitution.  On the day before he left office in 1817 he vetoed John Calhoun’s “Bonus Bill,” which would have used Federal funds to build roads and canals.  He explained: “the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and State governments.”

Of all the Founding Fathers, James Madison’s opinion of the Constitution should carry the most weight.  He had been a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and has been nicknamed “The Father of the Constitution.”  He could also be called the Father of the Bill of Rights.

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