Cover image for Founding friendship : George Washington, James Madison, and the creation of the American republic
Founding friendship : George Washington, James Madison, and the creation of the American republic
Leibiger, Stuart Eric.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 284 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Electronic Access:
Table of Contents
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Material Type
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E312.29 .L45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E312.29 .L45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Although the friendship between George Washington and James Madison was eclipsed in the early 1790s by the alliances of Madison with Jefferson and Washington with Hamilton, their collaboration remains central to the constitutional revolution that launched the American experiment in republican government. Washington relied heavily on Madison's advice, pen, and legislative skill, while Madison found Washington's prestige indispensable for achieving his goals for the new nation. Together, Stuart Leibiger argues, Washington and Madison struggled to conceptualize a political framework that would respond to the majority without violating minority rights. Stubbornly refusing to sacrifice either of these objectives, they cooperated in helping to build and implement a powerful, extremely republican constitution.

Observing Washington and Madison in light of their special relationship, Leibiger argues against a series of misconceptions about the two men. Madison emerges as neither a strong nationalist of the Hamiltonian variety nor a political consolidationist; he did not retreat from nationalism to states' rights in the 1790s, as other historians have charged. Washington, far from being a majestic figurehead, exhibits a strong constitutional vision and firm control of his administration.

By examining closely Washington and Madison's correspondence and personal visits, Leibiger shows how a marriage of political convenience between two members of the Chesapeake elite grew into a genuine companionship fostered by historical events and a mutual interest in agriculture and science. The development of their friendship, and eventual estrangement, mirrors in fascinating ways the political development of the early Republic.

Author Notes

Stuart Leibiger is Assistant Professor of History at La Salle University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Leibiger has written an important narrative and analysis of the collaboration between Madison and Washington during the early years of the Republic. What began as a convenience blossomed into genuine companionship between two moderate nationalists. Each found the other essential to accomplish certain goals as they tried to develop a governmental structure that would protect individuals' rights. By 1790, however, the relationship faltered as each man moved in opposite directions. The more Madison aligned with anti-Federalists, the closer Washington moved toward Hamilton and the Federalists. After 1790 Washington seemed more preoccupied with power and Madison with republicanism. Hamilton's financial program exposed the differences between them, and the Jay Treaty led to a final confrontation. This is an interesting analysis that forces readers to rethink the history of the early Republic, and belongs in all collections on this period. All levels. J. Andrew; Franklin and Marshall College

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. viii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Winning Independencep. 11
2 Improving Rivers and Friendshipsp. 33
3 Framing and Ratifying the Constitutionp. 58
4 Washington's "Prime Minister"p. 97
5 Friendship Testedp. 124
6 Founding Washington, D.C.p. 140
7 Four More Yearsp. 153
8 "Neutrality"p. 169
9 Domestic Order and Disorderp. 182
10 Estrangement and Farewellp. 197
Epiloguep. 223
Notesp. 227
Selected Bibliographyp. 263
Indexp. 273