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James Madison vs Patrick Henry

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In the book, “Allitt, Patrick. The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009,” the author talks about how the ideas and personalities of a conservatives came into existence and how it shifted throughout time. In addition, the author reveals the perspective of other conservatives throughout history and their different approaches. In the beginning of the book, Patrick talks about the meaning of Federalist and where it originated. Patrick explains how there are two meanings for the term Federalist. He starts by explaining how Federalists are politicians of the 1780s who wrote the Constitution, and the Federalist people would argue that the Constitution should replace the Articles of Confederation. He continues on saying how the term Federalist was also originally referring to politicians who came together with George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adam around the 1790s and 1800s (Patrick 6).

Patrick then explains how their work was like a blueprint to how a nation would live, and how it came from their experiences and wisdom of ages, in which we know it today as the Constitution (Patrick 7). Patrick continues on explaining how the Constitution was written to confirm the increase of power for the federal government, which was crucial if there is to be stability. Although the Constitution was thought to be created to confirm the power of federal government, Patrick explains that Publius was always trying to reassure the readers that the federal government is limited to issuing concerns in local areas (Patrick 8). Publius states, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. . . . It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government (Patrick 9).” Publius is saying here that we should counteract an individual’s natural desires with another desire. For example, if a person wants to use an authoritative position for their own gain, there should be a system to hold them accountable for their actions. In the next couple of chapters, Patrick discusses about the Southern Conservatives and their ideals to conservatism. He begins by explaining that Southern Conservatives believed that a central government would be the death of republicanism.

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He talks about how in the South, their economic interest was mainly based on farming and growing staples for export and it wasn’t until the discovery of tobacco, indigo, and rice that people started growing them too (Patrick 27). Patrick then talked about some influential people in the South and their ideals, in which included: Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Jefferson and Madison argued that states could intervene against federal legislation. They said that the states are justified by deciding whether Congress has surpassed the constitutional authority (Jefferson 29). Patrick then goes on talking about John Taylor and John Randolph who are Virginians and Southern conservatives. Taylor and Randolph feared city life and federal government. They believed that if a federal government were to progress, it would be threatening, similarly to the royal court in England. Taylor and Randolph favored active state militia, because it’s influence are more spread out and it’s not concentrated on an imperative power (Taylor & Randolph 30). As it continues to progress in the book, Patrick then talks about the impact of the Whigs and the Northern Antebellum Conservatism. Patrick starts by talking about how many historians regretted the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828, because he took advantage of his position and he enforced the banishment of the Five Civilized Tribe beyond the Mississippi. During the Nullification Crisis, Andrew Jackson also threatened to use military force upon South Carolina, and he also declared war against the second National Bank in 1832 (Patrick 46). The Whig Party was soon created, opposing Andrew Jackson’s action, and it competed with Democrats for national superiority around the 1830s and 1840s ( Patrick 47). It goes on saying how many writers and politicians, including: Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, wanted to mix social stability with opportunities relating economic modernization (Webster 47).

Based on my readings and thoughts about this book, Patrick is trying to make the point that throughout history the ideas and personalities of a conservative have changed. Patrick shows this by presenting different dates and times in history where there are different conservative ideas and views. I think what makes it convincing is that Patrick presents the ideas and views of different conservatives in different places of the world. He also doesn’t just look at the different views in these conservatives, but he emphasizes on why they view it that way either due to a disagreement or a historical event that occurred. After analyzing this book, I think it shows that even though people may have the same beliefs or values, they may interpret things differently, similarly to the conservatives who had different approaches. Based on this, how do we consider what is actually good or best for a certain situation? Whether it’s how people interpret God’s word or how a government should run to provide stability and protection for citizens, how would we know what is the best solution to these complex ideas and situations? Because the book presents conservatives from different places of the world, and their different views and perspectives, how can we know that this certain perspective is the best approach to handling an issue or conflict?

Overall, I think this book is trying to show that the time period your currently in and the different events that are occuring can affect an individual’s perspectives on things, in which Patrick was explaining about the ideas and perspective of conservatives throughout history.

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James Madison vs Patrick Henry. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
“James Madison vs Patrick Henry.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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