Civil Rivals

For whatever reason my reading recently has included several books on the American Revolution.  It is interesting to see the differences, and the similarities, between politics then, and now.  The story of James Madison and James Monroe provides a snapshot of how politics and personalities should be played….would that today’s demigods understood that.  Madison and Monroe were on opposite sides of one of the greatest pivotal points in our history, the debate over the Bill of Rights.  And as fate would have it, these two friends of the Revolution, who had been interconnected through work, and friends until finally meeting and becoming fast friends and correspondents, were opponents in the battle for a position to the ratifying Congress.

foundingrivals1

Each fervently believed they spoke the truth about the Bill of Rights.  One convinced it was the necessary tool to redress an issue from the Constitution, the other equally convinced it was unnecessary and dangerous.  In a country separated from its founding war  (a war both served in) by scant time, and still fresh memories, they battled each other on the topic.  Groups from out-of-state threw money and resources to sway the vote.  In the end, Madison won, the Bill of Rights was passed, and the fledgling US moved down its path to eventual superpower status.

Madison and Monroe?  They remained friends until they died, respected each other both then and until their final days.

It’s a shame that our current political rivals cannot understand how to disagree with respect, with honor, and with integrity.  How much better the modern Congress would be if they could emulate this revolutionary pair of civil rivals.

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