As Washington, D.C., prepares to welcome the 44th President of the United States to the White House, a new book co-edited by an MTSU professor puts the Founding Father who went on to become the fourth president of the United States into perspective.
Dr. John R. Vile, Dean of the MTSU University Honors College, edited “James Madison: Philosopher, Founder, and Statesman” (Ohio University Press) with William D. Pederson, professor of political science at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, and the Honorable Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
“Madison was one of the most influential thinkers in American history,” Vile says. “Madison’s contributions to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were especially important.”
Vile, who grew up near Madison’s home in Virginia, often portrays Madison for celebrations of the Constitution. Dressed in period clothing, complete with white wig and stockings, Vile’s characterization of the “Father of the Constitution” brings history to life for audiences of all ages and educational levels.
In addition to co-authoring the introduction, which provides background on Madison and on the essays, Vile contributed essays on “James Madison and Constitutional Paternity” and “James Madison’s Report of 1800: The First Amendment, Freedom of the Press, and the Common Law.”
Other contributors to the book examine Madison’s enduring impact on today’s America, including his views on citizenship and leadership in popular government, religious freedom, the U.S. Supreme Court, impeachment and political parties.
The book grew out of a 2006 conference directed by Pedersen on the LSU-Shreveport campus. Essayists include political scientists and historians from Auburn University, the University of Virginia, Brigham Young University and numerous other distinguished American institutions, as well as the University of Padova and the University of Pisa, both in Italy.
“I was especially pleased to have been able to select and edit the best papers from a conference and present the findings in a way that would be accessible not only to the scholarly community, but also to laypersons,” Vile says.
John P. Kaminski, an historian from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, observes that it is especially “appropriate that this magnificent compilation of original essays is being published in the year that James Madison’s mansion at Montpelier has been restored to its original simple elegance.” Kaminski, who has edited volumes on the state ratification debates of the U.S. Constitution as well as a chapbook on Madison, adds, “Every student of the early republic will enjoy and profit from this fascinating, well-crafted anthology.”