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Madison vs. Mason


I'm Jeffrey Rosen Presidency. Oh the National Constitution Center and welcome to we the people a weekly show of constitutional to beat the National Constitution Center is a nonpartisan nonprofit chartered by Congress to increase awareness and understanding of the constitution among the American people people September seventeenth is constitution day the anniversary of the signing of the US constitution in seventeen eighty seven in celebration of constitution in day. We devote this episode of the people to profile of two of the most influential figures shaping the Constitution James Madison Listen and George Mason if you had to pick two figures to exemplify the fundamental debates over the constitution and whether or not we should have a bill of Rights Madison and Mason seem a good place to start and we have convened a two of America's leading scholars Madison and Mason to help us understand who's WHO's constitutional legacy and ideas were most influential and how they differ and how they complimented each other Kaleen Sheehan is visiting scholar at the University of Colorado Boulder and professor of political science at Villanova University Professor Sheehan is the author of many books including the superb James Madison and the spirit of Republicans self-government which I recommend so strongly to we the people listeners and the forthcoming Cambridge companion to the federalist Co edited with Jack Rakoff professor. She is a member of the National Constitution Centers Madison Constitution For all commission and has written about Madison and the media in a soon to be published and very illuminating essay coline. It is wonderful to have you on the show. Thanks Jeff. It's great to be here. I'm always happy to do anything the National Constitution Center and the work look you doing their floor civic education in America. I appreciate it and Jeff. Broad Water is professor of history emeritus at Barton College in Wilson North Carolina. Uh He is the author of George Mason forgotten founder which I just had the great pleasure of reading this summer and also so strongly recommend to we the people listeners as well as James Madison Addison a son of Virginia and a founder of the Nation Jeff. It is an honor to have you on the people thank you honor to be on the program Kaleen. I'm going to begin with solarge question. Perhaps the largest question constitutional law but I know you can help distill the essence of it for our listeners. We're here to contrast Madison and Mason what what were the core of Madison's constitutional ideas and what was the core of this constitutional vision well. I guess sufficed to summarize it as tersely as possible. I would say that his constitutional vision was about self government which included included both liberty instability the idea that you need a stable government in order to protect the rights and liberties of the people so that they'll have the opportunity to govern themselves. Madison thought that that the history of the world was a history of of humanity signing for the chance to be their own masters and so wait before the constitutional convention in preparation preparation for it he spent quite some time writing up a piece called vices of the political system of the United States and which he looked at the effects of the United States government under the articles of confederation and his goal was to see if we could find a way to correct those defects especially especially the problems of instability injustice and confusion as eat could it later on in federalists number ten and so in correcting directing these kinds of problems of of a government that splits powers between a central government and state governments government or what's called Federalism Battiston thought that if we did this properly we could find a way for the first time in history tree for the people to really have a fair trial at the experiment in Self Government Jeff Broad Water George Mason will be less chameleon to our listeners. Tell us why many scholars think that he was among the most influential members of the constitutional convention his Virginia Declaration of Rights both influenced Madison when he wrote the bill of Rights as as well as Jefferson wrote the declaration Asian of independence why was Mason so influential and what was the core of his constitutional vision. Mice was one of the older delegates to go. I know the Philadelphia Convention was already a major figure in American politics. He'd been an early leader in the resistance to two British policy in Virginia before the American Revolution as you mentioned was principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights which generally considered the first modern bill of rights also the principle author of the Virginia Constitution which was one of the first state constitutions and so he brings a great deal of respect and influence to to the Philadelphia Convention and he's particularly remembered for raising the issue of the lack of the bill of rights he didn't sign the Constitution. He was one of three delegates who state of the end of the convention. I didn't sign that sign the Constitution and toured the end of a convention early. I think on the next the last day he wrote a list of objections. The constitution and his first objection was that there was no declaration rights. I think having written the Virginia Declaration of Rights gave him a great deal credibility to trip to raise that issue and he goes on and become one of the one of the handful of really impressive anti-federalists leaders as a leader Peter of the anti-federalist of the Virginia Convention that have been called ratify the Constitution Virginia would say that he he is differences with Madison as audiences were huge but they were important. I I think Madison thought that he could construct a national government that would that would be representative as people I would act responsibly would serve as a check on the state government. and Madison are Mason easy to get confused Nice. I think it was just it was less optimistic about that. I think he he was more distrustful. Government at any level sometimes we think of the anti-federalist states arises is people that were simply post giving right or power to the central government and there's some truth to that one of the most interesting to me is. I study Mason's career. Mason was is concerned about corruption and even though the county level as he was about about the national level. My won't talk about that later but I think the different one of the differences between Madison Amazing. Simply Mason Mason did the local orientation and Madison but he was simply more a pessimistic outside about the ability to to to credit governments national state and local hell wouldn't ultimately become corrupt and oppressive fascinating and as you write in your are superb book like John Adams you say Mason feared a new republic could founder an unchecked individualism transient popular majorities in the inherent virtue of the marketplace marketplace all forces that were sure lead to corruption as they had in Great Britain and he Mason oppose the because he thought had gave too many powers to a popularly elected acted chief executive kaleen. Let's begin to articulate what the what the major philosophical clashes at the convention were and if the founders came to Philadelphia determined to create a national government strong enough to achieve common purposes such as common defense and regulating the national economy. They also wanted to be constrained enough to protect liberty. Why don't you jump in and try to ah the main differences and similarities between Madison and Mason when it came to those questions and maybe we could start with the powers of Congress well. I think that Jeff Broadway broad water did a very good job in articulating Mason's view I would it only add that not only was he one of the older delegates but he was one of the crusty your ones I think I don't know if Jeff would agree with that. You know make Mason and L. Bridge Judge Gary and let's see who was who was a fellow who said I may take a foreign power by the hand hand which Rufus King responded and and chided him that we were there to get a job done for the Union and oh it was it was gunning Bedford. I think appropriate name have asked another word about gunning Bedford because you sound so interesting well it's from Delaware and in fact his home now one of my students from Delaware during a break picked from the university went to find his old home and it's now masonic lodge so I don't think tours being it's it's it you can't tour for its historical value. As far as I know but I'm not sure haven't been there but Bedford was a was a real interesting character and I always thought he was appropriately named. I myself don't know too. Many people named gunning. Mason and Madison were both from Virginia and and in many ways they disagreed about much of of what needed to be done in the United States they both came to Philadelphia as part of the Virginia delegation supporting seemingly the Randolph Virginia Plan introduced by Edmund Randolph authen- governor of Virginia rate early on in the convention in fact it was kind of a preemptive move but some of the major clashes at the the convention of which Madison Mason as well as others of course would be a car had to do with how much power the national government should have and how that would affect both the rights of the states are as well as the liberties and rights of the people for example sample the delegation from New York state composed of three members one of whom was Alexander Hamilton whom I'm sure many of your listeners will we'll know a lot of bow or at least be able to see saying a number of songs about him absolutely and then lansing engaged now. Hilton was one of the people very much pushing for the constitutional convention and a full-scale Amendment Amendment of the articles of confederation whereas Lansing and Yates were cronies of then Governor George Clinton of New York in enjoyed Clinton was a big fish in the relatively small pond of New York state then and they wanted to keep as much power as possible at the state level fearful that a national government would really make them fairly irrelevant which by the way some thought was Alexander Hamilton's plan all along to make the states as administrative units as fairly irrelevant compared to the Hercules America would become now where does where does madison fit into this. Many people think that Madison Jason was pretty Monday hammel Tony in the seventeen eighty s and there's there's a certain sense in which they agreed very much on on what needed to be done to amend the articles and to put the noon fledgling United States on a firm footing but I don't think Madison was ever quite the the nationalist that Hamilton always was Madison always thought there was a substantial insignificant place for where the states are not just because of wanting to protect states' rights but primarily because it was federalism was necessary necessary to protect the rights and liberties of the people in an extensive republic. It's interesting that in general have more to say about this that that Mason to is also is concerned about too much power being given to the national government in the liberties. Nobody's the people being in jeopardy but I think for very different reasons than Madison. Thaw will jeff tell us more about Mason's view about the dangers as of too much national power what what were his concerns initially supported the Virginia plan but at the Virginia ratifying find convention opposed ratification in part because Congress might make service in the militias unattractive as a pretext for establishing a standing army and he objected to federal control of the militias so what was it about congressional national power in the Constitution that mason feared and really sort of follow-up Kaleen laughed left off. I think there are a couple of issues that the answer that question illustrate his differences with with Madison one is is an issue that would sound pretty archaic or obscured uh US Mason believed that Eh a two-thirds vote of Congress should be required to pass laws regulating commerce or foreign trade eight. He knew that thought that the north northern the northern states would have a majority in Congress and they map pass legislation that would say give them monopoly on American shipping to northern shippers he and the British in what they call the navigation acts which imposed comparable regulations on American commerce and Magin worried the Mason Mason worried about that Madison was not so worried about that and I think if I had to make Eliza maybe Mazen's top three concerns about about the constitution one was the power to regulate commerce. I think Mason supported a congressional Paraguay ECOMMERCE. I think most people saw that was needed but he thought it ought to acquire something like three fourths quote or or some formula with the gives us asa the veto another difference and this again a they seem trivial to listeners today. Mason thought that appropriation bills should start in the in the house representatives. That was the people's body. The people elected representatives. I am the Senate should not be allowed to amend alter alternate a Senate of course was selective state legislatures representative. The states did not directly represent the people and he thought that what they call the origination clauses are important mass and talk that was fairly tribulation and in the big issue I think convention and this is feel. Songkhla issue about state versus national power headed it with the issue of representation representation mass and mass and believed very strongly that representation in Congress should be based based on population and of course the small states saw that representation in it in at least one house of Congress should reputation reputation should be equal among the states in at least one house of Congress. and Mason was one of the few large delegates that supported what became McCain knows a great compromise or the Connecticut compromise he saw. I is perhaps ironic. He saw that if if the delegates couldn't reach some on compromise on the issue of representation the convention would break up so this delegate who ended up opposing the constitution supported the compromise is it allowed the convention to finish his work fascinating e you just identified these three crucial issues the power of Commerce the question question of appropriations bills which seems more technical but has to do with representation in the Senate and then broadly this question of representation all of which will prove to be central convention colleen. Let's put on the table few other differences between Madison and Mason. When it comes to structural constitution how do they agree and disagree when it came to the powers of the president and the judiciary well Madison what into the convention without a very clear idea of the the executive and his except in terms of the executive and the judiciary he was in favor of what he called a council of revision vision which he pushed for over and over again at the convention but failed to get that passed just could not support for that would have meant had he succeeded in doing that it would have meant that after Congress both houses of of Congress passed a bill that incentive it going just to the president to sign or veto it would go to this council love revision which would be composed of the chief executive along with a certain number of members of the United States Supreme Court? Maybe four something like that so the council might be you know an odd number. Maybe something like five. I've always found that interesting because of of what effect that might have on judicial review right would still the Supreme Court would have I think appropriately the power of judicial review but would they be much less apt to exercise it sense. They've really we already had members of the Rancho really already had their say in working with the council revision so that's one of the interesting things about Paddison view. I think I'm the executive and the Judiciary Mason was one of the people who when they debated the executive in and they were they were the convention was all over the place about what how the president the Jeff it is interesting because Mason Start Aww in a very different place I think if he'd had his way and again he's concerned about about southern interest and sexual interest he he he didn't pushed hard on this but his preference was that the executive might be made up of of one from south one from the mid Atlantic region and and one New England. There wasn't much support for that. I as I recall I think Hugh Williamson of North Carolina support that but there wasn't much support for that and it didn't go any nice and accepted the idea of a single chief executive although he did think that the president is he came to be known should have counsel to advise him the colonial governors of state governors all often had advisory councils or sometimes counsels. We have some real power and that was one of the masons objections to I don't think I think that that nice and had a very clear idea of what of what the president would do or how the president would be selected when he went to fill the the Virginia plan originally proposed at the the national legislature would select the executive. I Yeah I think Madison and probably Mason decided in the Crispin Bates. They wanted to president that was more independent. Uh of the of the legislature than that in came to support the Electoral College Mason again was was mainly concerned concerned that that southern interest be protected he really preferred hoped that they convention would adopt a three member executive executive with representative from the south mid Atlantic states and New England There wasn't much support for that. I think Hugh Williams of North Carolina's reported reported it. There wasn't much sport coat for that among the delegates and Mason didn't didn't push it he did want the president had an advisory council. Executive Councils were were common in the colonies and in the states he thought Oh that'd be another check on the power of the presidency did not favour pop collection of the of the president came to accept the electoral college allege as I recall in the during the ratification of banks that was not a major issue for from from Addis Information. Let's talk now about the the judiciary. Coleen Alexander Hamilton famously predicted that the judiciary would be the least dangerous branch Madison in the federalist most feared Weird Congress as an impetuous vortex that would suck all into its voracious powers but what was Madison vision of the judiciary and contrasted rested with Mason who in opposing ratification of the Constitution of the Virginia Ratify Ratification Convention said that the broad scope of the judiciary kyrie would not only render state courts unnecessary it will destroy the state government with Jeff. I think there's a the reason that Hamilton road all the federalist papers on the judiciary and Madison didn't this is something that Hamilton the lawyer and of course Madison was not a lawyer one of the few who was not a given quite a bit more thought to as I mentioned a previously Madison saw part of the role of the judiciary in the check and balancing role on legislation as part of the council of Revision Vision but he did not want either the president or the judiciary to have the final say the final say was to be of legislation was to be Congress as the closest representatives of the people and of course what what the Judiciary is very far removed fundamentally sourced in the in the power of the people but very far removed from anything close close to direct or even election by the people so madison because Congress was to be the most powerful branch of government government. That's where he wanted us to direct our efforts to check it. I think he like Hamilton was not as concerned concerned because the judiciary had neither neither sword or curse which the executive in Congress did in fact task have now jeff if I could just say a couple words about something that that our other Jeff has talked about that this mason as concerned about southern interest in in protecting those interests I find this very fascinating Madison and Mason both from the Great State of Virginia the state that will produce most of the president's for some time after the establishment of the new constitution but unlike Mason Louis so concerned about the rights of the state of Virginia Genu- particularly the southern interest and we have to remember that Mason and Madison were both slave owners though both of them said many times over talked about their opposition to the institution of slavery at the Convention when the when the debate debate seemed to be over the small states versus large states which took you know basically two months of the life of the convention before we get to the great compromise is on on July sixteenth odd Madison at one point stood up and looked at his fellow delegates and said you know this this fight this conflict. That's being expressed about the large states. Versus small states dates. That's not really what's going on here. The division in the country is between North and South Madison recognized is that the division even in seventeen eighty seven in America had to do with the institution of slavery and and this was something he was very very keen on trying to reduce to alleviate the tensions of breath. I wonder what Jeff Broader thinks. Basins plan would have done regarding that tension that conflict reflect between the North and south over slavery fascinating. We have two large questions on the table that I want to ask Jeff broad water. The first is Mason's objection into the judiciary. Why is it at the Virginia ratifying convention that he said that the federal judiciary was so powerful that it would destroy state governments then tell us about the plan that clean she and refers to when it comes to getting the interests of the north and south and what what Mason thought he was trying to achieve Mason was very concerned about the power of the federal courts who made that a major point in the Virginia ratifying convention he was worried or he did argue that the federal courts would swallow up the the state courts why he was so concerned. Maybe a little bit harder to Maybe a little hard question to answer but in the federal courts were given fairly broad jurisdiction over matters arising under federal law over over litigation between citizens of different states and he thought he thought that was too broad jurisdiction and of course it's a federal law was to be supreme over state law under this Spring Z. Clause of the Constitution and one of them we have to remember is own some of some of Mason's concern. Some of the federals concerns would same the almost paranoid us today today. I mean Mesa Mesa was concerned that Congress might just do some reasonable unreasonable things that perhaps a the federal courts would which is said in Washington in the capital of course Washington and been founded yet and you'd have to go all the way to the capital litigated case ace and it would be very expensive and disadvantage ordinary ordinary citizens but he does the federal courts is real and we gotta remember in in Seventeen Ninety seven seventy-nine hate. The idea of do short view was really not well established. The courts were just really can begin to assert themselves. I think you might almost say that. The constitution was written in Philadelphia. There was another constitutional revolution taking place in the states as is the courts became more became more assertive with regard learn how Mason thought the issue of slavery would be negotiated under his plan with for example those three member the executive. I'm speculating here. Mason never really addressed the the issue directly but as in his living in an era where slavery has not yet become the great moral issue. It's a it's a political issue and as it was really well into the eighteen hundreds and I think that amazing would probably save pushed pushed him on this that if you gave the north and south you know roughly equal leverage they they would simply negotiate some some political settlement settlement an amazing support the end of the foreign slave trade. He never complained about the probation of slavery in the in in the Northwest Territory. He was one of those founders who I think considered slavery necessary evil and was you. I'm willing to entertain the idea that at some point in the future some point future slavery can be put on a road to abolition as you suggest I mason was critical of slavery although a slave older himself he believed that the slave trade was an evil that he could not condone and the question of why he didn't free a few of his slaves as Jefferson did or freedom all is Washington did you you raise an and say as a difficult to answer you right. Mason never seen defensive about his glaring inconsistency in all likelihood Mason believed or convinced himself that he had no options coline. Tell us about the constitutional relevance of the debate over the future of slavery at the Constitutional Convention. What were the various positions wins and what was the meaning of the infamous three fifths compromise and was Madison's position versus Masons on this question act walks well. Matheson was very clear throughout his life that he thought slavery was a moral wrong and his notes on government that he writes right after the institution the new constitution he actually says explicitly there that in in the states in America were slavery exists the not really republics. They're not Republican. They are more aristocratic and oligarchy and the three fifths compromise at the constitutional convention that was supported by so many of the delegates north and south was not a new thing. It was a compromise already made under the articles of confederation. It was one of the mistakes that people make today is to think that the three fifths compromise means that those held in slavery were counted as three fifths of a person that is not at all with that compromise means. Madison is very clear that that all human beings WCHS including those held in slavery black and white and any color are full human beings. He talks about this in federalist fifty four for example that those who are held in bondage are seen in the unnatural light of property when what they they really are of course this person's so with the three fifths compromise meant was when the delegates from places like North Carolina south of Carolina Georgia especially like rutledge in the Pekingese pronounced to the convention that there are the the people of their states would accept the constitution on if would would not accept the constitution. If anything was done to touch what's the institution of slavery. If the other delegates wanted Georgia South Carolina North Carolina reported this the Union they had to make some compromise on that and of course they wanted to keep the union together because allowing North Carolina South Carolina in Georgia to to be a separate confederacy of sorts would not have free to single slave. The whole idea was to pull people together and work. You're in the future towards the elimination slavery or at least many many many of the founders explicitly said and they said it so many many times and set it on the floor of the Convention gouverneur more stood up on the floor of the convention you can see him tall and flamboyant and stamping his egg laid on the floor and shouting that slavery is the curse of Evan Roof. His King says something similar and you can just Z. People like Charles Coats were Pinkney and General Pinkney and John Rutledge maybe sort of shrinking in their chairs a little bit they never defended the institution Russian of Slavery Rutledge and pink knees on the floor but they did express the views of the people of their state that they would not accept at this constitution. If if the institution of Slavery were abolished they were absolutely clear on that so the other delegates knew that if they were going to preserve the union do anything about slavery in the future there had to be a compromise one other point on that that I think is interesting. What compromise means for this was that they were not. They understood themselves as not compromising the principal. They were putting forth a practical way to deal with this issue to keep the Union together so that slavery slavery could be abolished in the future now. Jessica fight the just say are one more word on Madison's view of slavery his his own personal view. Why didn't he free his slaves. I this involves some speculation. We know he didn't free slaves. We also we know that he had a spendthrift stepson that he was constantly bailing out for his younger wife. Dolley Todd Madison and I think that he was very concerned about up to Dolly's future when he passed away her financial future because of the problems her son had had presented. I think he hit from Dolly some of the debts he was paying for Dahlie son because pained her so watch now. There is some speculation jeff which is very interesting. I don't have any evidence for this but it's one of those sort of I don't know if we want to call it rumors or that that's been passed down for generation upon generation that is that Madison actually left a note that was read by others that had to do with freeing his slaves upon the death of Dolly it. Is that true or not. There's lots and lots of speculation about that but if it's true either the note was destroyed or at this point. We haven't found it. There's still many Madison papers out there that are yet to be discovered. I suspect because once again the stepson actually took some of Madison's papers and sold them so we're still finding writings of Madison and putting those that's together well. Madison papers yet to be discovered sounds very Davinci code like and I know that every we the people listener will be waiting breathlessly in their publication Jeff. Tell us more about this paradox of Mason on one among the Virginia delegates one of those who denounced announced slavery most vigorously on the other slave owner who didn't fail as the free his own slaves and tell us about about his position on slavery at the Convention. I think my son's position on slavery was very ares. Sumer to Madison's. You could probably read a quote from from one of them and you might not be able to identify which one it came from I think Mason thought slayers moral evil. He thought it was bad for Virginia's economic development. He thought it was bad for the character of Weinstein Lights on slaves. He thought they learned cruelty as a slave masters but he never ever freed. We never freed slaves. This is one area particularly where I wish we had more of a Mason's papers. Madison's published papers run to dozens of volumes mason didn't make much effort to save anything his published papers roundabout under by about three volumes but I I think that that Mason probably shared while I was a common attitude in Virginia and his Madison felt this way. Jefferson felt this way that the quacks and freed slaves just couldn't couldn't live together. They were two different they'd been to a too difficult history and they just wouldn't be able to coexist and until some way could be found to to separate the two races. Slavery was was not practical. There was also of course economic. You know the incentive Mason had I believe it was nine children survived to adulthood. He didn't WanNa do anything that would they would jeopardize their their future about by Frayne his flies but as far as specific comments during the convention then late in the ratification Asiana by the one point that I can remember where I believe he disagrees with with with Madison was the question question of some federal tax on sleighs and I believe Madison says and I think this is the conscious convention. They didn't laugh the idea because he didn't lacking admitting the constitution there can be property men which authorizing attacks on slaves would do that I think and in another another point point Mason says but not attacks slave imports would be the equivalent of a bounty on slice so they're both opposed to slavery but they disagree on the on the way to to to reflect opposition now when you when you get to the ratification convention Mason's position becomes a little bit harder to to maybe characterize because in one speech basically in one breath he criticizes the constitution for not protecting slavery and at the same time he criticizes the Constitution for making the slave trade to continue for another twenty years. The constitution said that Congress couldn't ban slavery in June twenty years after his adopted the only way I can reconcile although I mean you you could say expediency the binding points. He's he's trying to sue to be a slave. Live owners and people have reservations about slavery is he was opposed to slavery but he thought that that if the abolition of slavery should be left to the states again he wouldn't right wouldn't trust the northern majority to to to to to manage that process very interesting and that would explain the apparent inconsistency between his strong statements against slavery at the Convention and as you say his objection at the convention that it was not possible to tax slaves which interestingly trust with Madison's crucial claim the Constitution should take no position on whether there could be property in men and attributing that to his concern for states rights helps us understand a the tension between him and Madison. Let's turn finally to the central issue that divided Madison and Mason and one where Mason one and history thanks him and that's the lack of a bill of rights colleen. This is more familiar story to some we the people listeners but why was it the Madison initially opposed a bill of rights but came to support it and what was Mason's role in persuading him to change his mind well Madison a of course was opposed to bill right at the constitutional convention but during the ratification debates with people like Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia persuading many of the people in Virginia or perhaps reflecting their views there ought to be a bill of rights in the constitution in order not to undergo calling second convention which Madison thought would be autism faster. We'd never get a constitution out of it. We were it was hard enough. The first time that he said publicly that he would support a bill of rights in the first Congress should he be there obviously elected as a congressman and that's precisely what he did early early on in the first congress of the United States Madison introduced a series of amendments that became known as the bill of rights now why was does he opposed to begin with and then agree to later. He explains himself on this. He was opposed to a bill of rights because he was very worried that it would mean that listing rights that you put that in the constitution these are the rights and liberties of to to be protected in the constitution that there would be a presumption that rights not listed would be considered writes not protected by the Constitution not protected tech under law and so that that would be dangerous to the rights and liberties of the American people. He said that in Great Britain government grants France rights to the people but in the United States it's the opposite it's the people who Graham powers to the government so all rights are reserved to to the people and to the states respectively so the idea of delegated or an enumerated powers that any power is not given into the government the government does have which is one of the reasons he wasn't so concerned about the judiciary because he didn't see them as being sort lord of runaway judiciary that many people think the judiciary has become and the twentieth and twenty first century like George Mason predicted did and the anti-federalist brutus predicted. They seem to have been right about that eventual a alternately now so madison thought that though if if we were going to have a bill of rights had to be done was to articulate these rights as clearly and comprehensively a handsomely as possible. That's why there's the ninth amendment that basically says don't assume that everything listed here are the only rights of the people so it's to make sure that we know that it's not government who gives people rights. It's people who give powers to the government that is critical in the American can constitutional system and it's part of a necessary part of what it means for the people to be softened the idea popular sovereignty eighty Jeff Brewer Mason in the bill of rights. This is his greatest legacy. He championed it from the beginning. He said one could be written a few hours. I at the end of the convention. All you have to do is cut and paste among the state declarations which in the end is precisely what Madison did a drawing primarily on Mason's own for junior declaration as well as others so tell us about Mason's vision of a bill of rights and why he thought it was necessary and what is the significance of his triumph on this question. Mason did raise the issue toward the end of the convention. It's a mystery why he didn't raise the issue earlier. an-and the timing was bad. I think by the time he raised the issue. A lot of the delegates were ready to go home. They'd been there for about three months but of course he was the perfect person to raise the issue because he'd written the Virginia Declaration of Rights and he I think he invasion and really a bill of rights sort of two parts one would be a statement of fundamental political the principles that all man I think as he put in the declaration were born equally free and independent they had a right to laugh liberty property property happiness and safety which of course Jefferson took to that language and became the second paragraph of the Declaration of independence and then Madison wanted to Mason and Mason WanNa protect certain fundamental individual rot got a prime most important they free religion which is an issue is very important and also important important of Madison and we've been talking about mass mass in Mason's differences but earlier in their career they were they were playing allies and one of the issues I worked together on which was to expand freedom origin in Virginia and so by seventeen eighty seven declaration riots were bill right is become something that most Americans expect expect to see in your state cost to Sion's and we got God's remember before seventy seven in the field healthy convention. Americans have spent roughly a decade Ryan State Constitutions. People people expected to see so mason raises the issue. I gets no support. It's noted down the unanimously and then toward the end of the convention Iraq's objections to the Constitution as opposed. I would have to be the first first written document and he begins with this complaint that there's no no declaration of rights and it became the anti-federalist most popular argument against the Constitution Anti federalist had a lot of raised issues disagreement among the anti-federalist list on different issues but there was general agreement for the now on the need for a declaration of rights and it put a great deal of pressure on on Madison Addison. Thomas Jefferson courses the American Minister to France this time Jefferson Rats Masson tells me think they should've added. It'd mill rise the constitution. The Baptist in Virginia are raising the issue because they want a federal protection for freedom of religion so he's under pressure from from them that becomes important when he runs congress lighter and the ratifying convention after they voted or out of the the constitution they're recommends the series of amendments including amendments dealing with with religion so is is calling. You said it's Madison. That actually puts them together when he's elected. The first Congress does really remarkable job of pushing them through. We're pretty apathetic congress but it's Mason I think that that that deserves credit for starting the the the momentum that little edited option the Bill Colorado and I had a good job explaining mass madison change in position. I want other factor. Dr In masses thinking when he gets to Congress he realizes that the addition of the bill of rights will go a long way why toward appeasing some of the more moderate anti-federalist and increase support for the new government and enhance legitimacy so he he's got a number of reasons to to to to change his mind and in a number of reasons going to oppose the addition of the bill of rights before the constitutions ratified well it is time for a closing thoughts in this utterly fascinating discussion about Madison Versus Mason and their influence in the constitutional convention action. It's too simplistic I think to sum up this rich discussion into viewing Madison as the exemplar of of federal power and Mason as the exemplar of states rights so I'm going to ask you first Kalin to sum up in in light of this rich discussion with the competing constitutional visions of Madison and Mason were well. I think for Mason I mean he does uh-huh facilities at towards the end of the convention why he doesn't in the beginning. I don't know maybe he just suspected that a bill of rights would be included in the constitution after after all it was Virginia and most of the state constitutions. He is just adamant that that's a problem and and many many many other people in the United States followed him including delegates at Edmund Randolph for one eldredge Gary for another that no bill of rights no ratification the constitution he just dug his heels in on that it's interesting into think of that day. September seventeenth seventeen eighty seven that we now call constitution day when all of the delegates you know Matt Ed once again for the last time before they adjourned sine die at what we now call independence hall in Philadelphia and they they walked up to George Washington's desks to sign this document but of course there were three of them who didn't sign it over to Gary Edmund Edmund Randolph and George Mason what were they. What was it like for them. When everyone else was celebrating everyone went to the city tavern afterwards down Second Street. What did they do. They spent that whole summer from May a until September seventeenth working sacrificing to make this new constitution but in the end couldn't put the John John Hancock as it were on the document you know it must it must have been awfully important to them to have the bill of rights. It's for them not to sign with their fellow colleagues and people they very much respected including George Washington. Turn that document that they contributed so much to the last thing I'd like to say in summary Jeff is Madison's most known for the structure of the Constitution the institutions separation of powers checks and balances some people call it a machine that would go of itself when you've written this the people in their character don't really matter because it's all these institutions and checks and balances set me for good government that was not Madison's view. Madison thought that the character of the American people what we believe leave what we cherish not just his generation but for generations to calm were always sort of paying forward that you can't have a republic without Republican citizens that civic education learning the tools of self government was most crucial the thing to not only have a republic but his Quinn said to keep it. This is the work of course for all of us not just then under for all of us today. Thank you for those eloquent final thoughts. Jeff brought order. The last word is to you if you could sum up the competing in constitutional visions of James Madison and George Mason that would be wonderful and colleen is right and and I think both Madison and Mason recognize the importance of cultivating civic engagement in in responsible citizenship. I think I think that the Madison believe though that the federal government could serve a role as a check on the states and I think that that Mason was so suspicious of government at any level. I don't think that he had much confidence any level of government. I want to check another one man. Madison in the federalist papers and elsewhere talks about the ability of the of the state's government deserves. There's a check on federal power. I don't recall Mason saying that so he's much more suspicious of government as a result. wants to really impose more restrictions on on the federal government. I think he'd impose more restrictions on the state and local governments if that they had been before in a state constitutional convention but he he wants to put more structural limitations on the federal that'll garment. I'll just give one example. We had chance to talk about. He was opposed the federal taxing power. He thought it the States Congress. Could I should've done on the articles requisition funds from the states and only the states refused to to to satisfy the requisition could impose taxes and there's just one of several kinds of structural limitations he wanted to put on the government on the federal government but I was that was that was amazing difference between but between the two they both believed in the importance of what we might call good citizenship but I I think Madison massenet greater confidence in the ability to to to to structure the responsible free government. I think Mason's ought to human nature being what it was fighting corruption in government. It would just be an ongoing problem however the gunman was structured. Thank you so much clench. Ian and Jeff Brown water for a wonderful wonderful constitution day discussion on the competing constitutional visions of James Madison and George Mason. You've helped us understand how both of these two patriots were responsible for shaping the US Constitution on its birthday Colleen Jeff. Thank you so much for joining. Thank you thanks Jeff. Today's show was engineered by David starts and produced by Jackie. Mcdermott research was provided by Lana Lunatic and the constitutional channel content team we the people friends next week is constitution day. It's going to be amazing day at the Constitution Center including the launch of our new upgraded interactive constitution this astonishingly rich platform for constitutional education and the debate. I can't wait to share it with you. If you'd like to learn more you're about our Constitution Day celebration pudding the launch please visit Constitution Center Dot Org Ford Slash. Learn please please rate review and subscribe to we the people on Apple podcast and recommend the show to friends colleagues or anyone everywhere who's hungry for a weekly dose of constitutional debate and always remember the National Constitution Center is a private nonprofit. We rely on the generosity passionate engagement of people from across the country and around the world were inspired by our nonpartisan mission Asian of constitutional education and debate. You can support our mission becoming a member at constitution center dot org slash members were give a donation of any amount to support aren't working putting this podcast at constitution center dot org forward slash donate on behalf of the National Constitution Center. I'm Jeffrey Rosen and happy constitution panoply.

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