Biographies and American History

I am really on a biography kick lately, especially about people in American history. Esther calls this “my flavor of the week.” Two people I would really like to read a good biography on:

1) James Madison. Because he was such an incredibly important founding father (the primary author of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and a major contributer to the Federalist Papers), yet often neglected in favor of people like Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson. He was also a two-term Secretary of State who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, and a two-term President who oversaw our first war after the Revolutionary War. I think it would be worthwhile to spend some time studying Madison in order to understand the Constitution better.

2) Daniel Webster. Because he was such a great orator, and it would be interesting to learn about our country during the post-Revolution pre-Civil War generation, a time I know basically nothing about. Also it would be interesting to study a Senator rather than a President.

I honestly can’t find a biography on Madison that catches my eye, but this one on Webster looks very solid. If only I were not such a slow reader, I would order it. I try to discipline myself to skim more, but I usually get too engrossed and cannot do it. Some day I will get around to reading it!

Here is a famous excerpt from Daniel Webster’s July 17, 1850 address to the Senate:

“I shall stand by the Union…with absolute disregard of personal consequences. What are personal consequences…in comparison with the good or evil which may befall a great country in a crisis like this?…Let the consequences be what they will…. No man can suffer too much, and no man can fall too soon, if he suffer or if he fall in defense of the liberties and constitution of his country.”

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  1. Good choices. I’ve been itching to pick up something on Andrew Jackson – he is an American figure who I’ve been wanting to learn about. Let me know if you read a good Madison bio.