Stanford’s Pulitzer-Winning Prof. Jack Rakove on James Madison, The Federalist Papers, & U.S. Constitutionalism

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard talk with Dr. Jack Rakove, Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. Professor Rakove reviews the biography of James Madison, often called the “Father of the Constitution,” and the influence of classical and Enlightenment learning on his farsighted political thought and leadership. They discuss key arguments from Madison’s essays in The Federalist Papers that should inform civics lessons today and his crucial role at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. In addition, they explore Madison’s handling of the three-fifths clause and slavery, the central moral and constitutional problem of the Founding era. Professor Rakove explains Madison’s involvement, along with Thomas Jefferson, in America’s first opposition political party, and the bitter partisan politics of the 1790s. They conclude with a reading from Dr. Rakove’s book, Original Meanings.

Stories of the Week: In Vermont, some students are struggling to obtain drivers’ licenses due to a shortage of drivers education instructors. One silver lining from the otherwise disappointing NAEP results recently released, is the performance of Catholic schools, which surpassed their public school peers across the country.

Dr. Jack Rakove is Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University. His principal areas of research include the origins of the American Revolution and Constitution, the political practice and theory of James Madison, and the role of historical knowledge in constitutional litigation. He is the author of nine books, including Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, which won the Pulitzer Prize in History, Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of AmericaA Politician Thinking: The Creative Mind of James Madison, and The Cambridge Companion to The Federalist. He earned an A.B. with Honors in History from Haverford College and a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.

The next episode will air on Weds., November 9th, with Amar Kumar, founder and CEO of KaiPod Learning.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

Catholic schools outperformed public schools across the nation. Here’s why – The Lion

Scarcity of driver education instructors delays students’ ability to get their licenses

Get new episodes of The Learning Curve in your inbox!

Please excuse typos.

[00:00:00] Cara: Hello listeners. It’s a sugared up. Cara Candal coming through you from home with Pioneer Institute in Boston. How you doing? Gerard? I bet you wait. I’m going to go with, You are so virtuous that you haven’t had any Halloween candy.

[00:00:40] GR: I have not had one

[00:00:42] Cara: piece. Don’t you just love to hate him? Everybody

[00:00:48] Oh my goodness. I started off on the foot of like, I’m not gonna have any Halloween candy. That was like yesterday, like 1:00 PM and then I picked my children up from school in the mayhem and the [00:01:00] frenzy. I was like, I have a choice. I can drink alcohol or I can eat chocolate . I went with chocolate because I was gonna be with my children all night and I wanted to be responsible.

[00:01:10] But anyway, we had a very active, very happy Halloween in this house. How about in the Robinson household? In the

[00:01:17] GR: Robinson household for the middle school daughter, we had seven of her classmates. And they went trick or treating throughout our neighborhood as a group and then did uh, sleepover at someone else’s house.

[00:01:28] So two families got together and, freed, like six of the families just hang out. Really. Wow. But that was fun. You took the fall, the high school daughter had two friends over and they went to trick or treat. So we’ve probably got, I don’t know, four pounds of candy around here and you

[00:01:44] Cara: make its way.

[00:01:45] Continuously avoiding all of it. You can send it to I’m not gonna give my drawing , actually, no. I, am replete. That’s, that’s, I’m now in the position of actively hiding the candy that my children got from trick or treating and getting rid of it because they think they’re actually gonna eat all of [00:02:00] it, and that’s just not okay.

[00:02:00] So we’re gonna donate it. I, Well, I’m glad to hear Gerard. You know, I, I have to say I love Halloween. I never was one to get super excited about dressing up, but the thing I love About Halloween, it’s that it’s a holiday. That it’s a secular holiday, of course. So, I think that a lot of people are celebrating it.

[00:02:17] I mean, I know some choose not to, but, , , generally we have holidays that are sometimes divided by, you know, the religion that you observe or whatever it is. And this isn’t one of those. And at least around here, we closed down a few. Not in my neighborhood, but another neighborhood over.

[00:02:32] And boy, it is a par t there. I’m talking bands. I’m talking cotton candy machines and popcorn machines, and yes, a full bar. Again, though I did not indulge just the chocolate, so it, it’s of course time. Of course. It’s a great, great time. But I digress. , enough. Halloween chit chat. Gerard, what’s on your mind This.

[00:02:52] GR: Well, speaking of Halloween, parents had to drive their daughters over here, and so my article that week in fact is aligned [00:03:00] with driving something that I often don’t think about because. I’ve been driving a long time, but I should think about this because I have a daughter who’ll be going for a permit.

[00:03:08] So this is from your neck of the woods in New England, the state of Vermont. And there’s a guy named Joe Barsh, who’s been teaching for 26 years of his 30 years in the classroom. Drivers. and what Joe’s found out is that a lot of families are coming to him saying that they’re having to go to the private sector to actually get driving classes for their children because the wait list at the public school is so long, not just at that school but statewide.

[00:03:39] And he said, Well, you know what? This is not a new. That a lot of schools in Vermont have cut back on driver’s ed, and as a result, you have fewer driver ed instructors, and yet you still have people who turn of age and need to learn how to drive. And so, Joe decided to go ahead and do something entrepreneurial and [00:04:00] create a school, in fact, to help.

[00:04:02] With families who wanna do work, but also try to part of the public school system. And so I said, You know what? I really don’t think about this and I wonder if this is a new problem. So I did some research and I found out from Governing magazine, which is a magazine that I recommend our listeners take a look at.

[00:04:19] It’s called Governing the Future of States and Localities. It’s one that I’ve looked at for years and there’s actually a 2015 article. That tells you everything you need to know on the title. States are putting the brakes on driver’s ed and. In 2015 and what a AAA Foundation research report identified is that for a holster reasons, when states find themselves in a financial crunch, we often think of the arts being the first things to go.

[00:04:43] And yes, the arts are always impacted, so is driver’s ed. And so what that’s done is two things. Number one’s increased, the number of students who are looking to the public school system to feel that need. And then number two, there’s a question about whether or not this is leading to fatalities or [00:05:00] accidents by young drivers.

[00:05:01] Well, according to the AAA Foundation in its 2015, Cited in Governing magazine, there was some correlation between the number of accidents and the number of young people. Well, fast forward to 2022. I took a look at what we’re doing here, Virginia, as well as Massachusetts, and it’s definitely something we should, really look into because one of the, I guess, pathways to adulthood is being able to drive on your own, but we want that to happen when it can.

[00:05:30] But if it can’t, There’s a gap. Either the entrepreneurs will fill it or given the billions of dollars that we spend on our schools, we’ve gotta find a way to make it happen. So just something to think about that’s out of the ordinary, but something that I think we should pay attention to.

[00:05:44] Cara: Yeah.

[00:05:45] Your thoughts. Oh, I love, well, my thoughts are, first of all I hate driving. I, I do it, I do it as little as I possibly can. I’m lucky to live very close to. The mbta, which for those of you who are listening in Massachusetts, , [00:06:00] what are we like the worst functioning public transportation system in the country, But at any rate it prevents me from driving. I drive a little bit. I will say that, with driver’s Ed and Mind Jar, my mother always blames my father for sending me to a quote unquote terrible driver’s ed school because she doesn’t think that I am a sufficient driver. But no, I think this is great stuff.

[00:06:18] anytime entrepreneurs. Can step in to fill a gap. It’s really important. I would also like to know, you know, we’ve got lots of folks and I wonder if we can get stories from folks. I would love to have somebody on who can talk about how entrepreneurs are filling the gap in school transportation.

[00:06:35] So, Right. We’ve seen a lot of stuff out of Arizona for example, they use pandemic funds for innovation grants. Drive. I think they were actually called driving innovation grants to try and figure out better ways to get kids to school because in Arizona, so few kids are actually attending, the school that’s down the street from their house.

[00:06:51] So, love anything about entrepreneurship, even if it relates to driving, which again, not my favorite activity, but I take your point. [00:07:00] It is a necessity for many people. It’s how our country is set up. So at any rate, thank you for that today, Gerard. I am of course, It’s gonna take us back into that deep, dark hole of misery.

[00:07:11] But I’m finding a nice ray of light in the darkness. And that is, I wanna talk about NAPE scores, but I wanna talk about one particular aspect of NAE scores that we’re discussing in the news this week. So Jordan, last week, I think, if I remember correctly, I made comment that we had some early indication that Catholic schools had performed particularly well on the na well, okay, wait, let me rephrase that.

[00:07:35] Nobody. Performed particularly well on the name, but in in comparison to other schools in comparison to public and even charter schools that took the name. Catholic Schools seem to have done well. And now we’ve got some evidence from a report from Kathleen Porter McGee. Who’s an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

[00:07:53] And , I’m looking here at an article that was actually published in the Lion from the Herzl Foundation. And it [00:08:00] was written by, it’s an opinion piece written by Joe Haring, But what Kathleen Porter McGee found, she looked at the data because, you know, Nae one, this is like one of. I have to say, one of the things that our federal government is supposed to do with regard to education policy and does pretty well is collect and publish data, Right?

[00:08:19] So on the name, what you can do is you can see how kids did based on the type of school they attended, based on any number of factors. But this school type is one really important thing and McGee’s analysis. That if Catholic schools were a state, they would be the highest performing in the nation on all four NA tests.

[00:08:38] So now I think that we should. Take this and say, Wow, that’s very impressive. I think we should also say this is probably a very small sample size. So because NAP just is a sample of all schools across the nation, so Catholic schools proportionally are gonna make up a much smaller sample than public schools and even charter schools.

[00:08:56] But this is still something worth talking about [00:09:00] and I think the easy thing to say here as well. Catholic schools, like most private schools really didn’t miss that much time due to school closures in comparison to their public and even charter public counterparts. But I think that there’s a little bit more to this story.

[00:09:15] And I wanna say, Jordan, I know you are product of Catholic education. I am not. I was raised Catholic. I’m not currently a practicing Catholic, but I have to tell. I love Catholic schools. I have studied Catholic schools throughout my career. I’ve spent a lot of time observing in various Catholic schools.

[00:09:33] And here’s why I love Catholic schools. I think that they do the kinds of things that help them produce. Strong out outcomes for kids. And of course there’s a history of research behind this that dates back wow, probably to the seventies and probably before nap. But , , there are a couple things that schools do incredibly well.

[00:09:49] Number one, they set really high and clear expectations for students. Number two, the curriculum is clear and transparent. So not only is there this sense that all kids [00:10:00] can achieve which I think is probably. Rooted in, the fundamental sort of Catholic belief about human flourishing, but also that the curricular expectations.

[00:10:09] Kids know what they have to achieve. Kids know in a Catholic school for the most part, the ones that I’ve observed and what we see in the literature, they know what the bar is. They know. Where they’re at, where they have to get, and then it’s the teacher who helps them get there. also, they create a safe space.

[00:10:25] Many parents who use Catholic schools will say, I came here because it feels safe for me. And I came here because, Even if I’m not Catholic, it gives me a kind of foundation and character education, other things that are really aligned with my values and beliefs, and that’s what I want for my kid.

[00:10:42] And I think when you have an education that is deeply rooted in character, no matter I think there are basic elements of character that, just cut through different belief systems that that works for, people, not just for kids. And the other thing I’ll say about, Schools is boy oh boy. We can criticize [00:11:00] a lot of things about Catholic schools.

[00:11:01] I think the superintendent of Catholic schools here in Boston was famous for saying, Yeah, well our kids didn’t really get covid when we were in school during the pandemic because you know, in Catholic schools we sit in row and we keep kids pretty far apart from each other. . But that made me think it’s about, not really doing sort of the thing of the day.

[00:11:18] Catholic schools, I think, for good in this case, take a long time to adopt fads and in. I have advised some Catholic schools that were looking for, Wow, how do we up enrollment? How do we do better as enrollment has been declining across the country or was before the pandemic to not go with the fads, not try and be more like public schools, but in fact to keep doing more of what they’ve always done.

[00:11:41] And before I end here, Gerard, I want to bust one. About Catholic schools, just in case any who are out there listening believe it. And that is this idea that they somehow perform better because they call, wealthier students. Students who can afford to pay tuition. Probably mostly white students, that they are somehow [00:12:00] homogeneous.

[00:12:00] And anybody who’s been inside, especially in urban Catholics, School will tell you that is absolutely not the case. In fact, one of the reasons Catholic schools are financially so strapped and have been for so long is because they may get their mission to admit students who can’t afford to pay tuition.

[00:12:16] And so while they keep the real cost of tuition quite low, in many, many, many, many cases um, schools are not charging students tuition at all because they see themselves and they are in many cases the only other choice, quote unquote, that parents. Some parents can choose charters. Many times they have long wait lists.

[00:12:35] But for decades before charters were born communities were turning to Catholic schools when for whatever reason their local district school couldn’t serve them well. And that is communities of all faiths in all colors. I think people will be very surprised to know that so many children who attend Catholic schools in the US today are in fact not Catholic.

[00:12:54] So, that’s my ma story. A little, bright light in the midst of the[00:13:00] chaos that was last week. The chaos and the, and the darkness, I should say. That was last week. Gerard, what’s your take on this as a Catholic school?

[00:13:08] GR: I am a Catholic school graduate, and unlike a lot of my friends, my Catholic school in fact failed me.

[00:13:15] I finished a Catholic high school unprepared for life and for work, and in fact it was a community college that changed everything around for me. But that was, for me, there are a ton of people at very different experiences. If you look at the fact that 80%. Of blacks in the United States are BS and approximately 3% of black people are Catholic.

[00:13:35] And if you look at the number of African Americans who are in the professional class, who can link their success in part to attending the Catholic school, it’s not because they were Catholic. It goes along exactly what you mentioned. They open their doors. To a lot of people, and so you wouldn’t have a very sizable or a segment of a sizable black middle class without Catholic schools.

[00:13:57] Number two, Catholic schools also provided an [00:14:00] opportunity for school integration. A lot of Catholic schools and black Hispanics, whites to sit in the same classes. Long before public schools did. And third, I think what we saw with NAEP, but I’m so glad you mentioned the sample size. It is a sample size, a smaller sample size, but nonetheless a sample size worth taking a look at.

[00:14:19] So, glad to hear Catholic schools get the big ring. And even last week we talked about the Department of Defense schools as well. So it seems that the mission driven institu. Are getting results.

[00:14:31] Cara: Amen. Is that appropriate to say since we’re talking about

[00:14:35] GR: Catholic schools? ? yes, my sister.

[00:14:38] You’re blessed. Okay. Thank you. We’re just

[00:14:39] Cara: gonna go with it. All right, Sheard we’re gonna bring in our guest here in a moment. We’re gonna be speaking with Dr. Jack Rakove. He is the co professor of History and American Studies, and also a professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University.

[00:14:54] We’ll be back with him right after.[00:15:00]

[00:15:40] Learning Curve listeners, as promised, we are back with Dr. Jack Rakove. He is the co professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University. His principle areas of research include the origins of the American Revolution and Constitution, the political practice and theory of James Madison, and the role of [00:16:00] historical knowledge in constitutional litigation.

[00:16:02] He is the author of nine books I. Original meaning politics and ideas in the making of the Constitution, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history. Revolutionaries a new history in the invention of America. A politician thinking The creative mind of James Madison and the Cambridge Companion to the Federalist here in an AB with honors in history from Haverford College and a PhD in history from Harvard University.

[00:16:27] Dr. Jack Rakove. Welcome to the show. Happy to. Ah, we’re happy to have you. Okay, well, let’s dive right in. You have written extensively about James Madison and he was perhaps the best read of the founding fathers in terms of his knowledge of political philosophy and history and constitutions.

[00:16:45] Could you talk briefly about his biography with a focus on 18th century education? Tell us a little bit about how his grounding in classical and enlightenment learning helped him to become so intellectually, politically [00:17:00] influential?

[00:17:00] Jack Rakove: Well, Madison’s father James Madison senior was the largest landowner in Orange County Virginia.

[00:17:08] And you know, Madison grew up primarily on the Lia plantation, which is right outside the town of Orange as the kind of privilege for. of a relatively wealthy family, and he was properly schooled and educated. Uh, From the beginning he was tutored. He went off to know, a neighboring school for boys, you know, and then he went off to the College of New Jersey in Princeton which we now of course call Princeton University.

[00:17:33] And spent about, two and a half, three years there early his BA and then stayed on some additional. Perhaps for health reasons, but perhaps also cuz he wanted do a bit of postgraduate education. He worked on the classics. He actually worked on ancient Greek at ancient Hebrew. Of course, at that time there was only ancient Hebrew

[00:17:49] There wasn’t modern Hebrew to work with. And then he went back to Mount PE in the early 1770s. And in the years proceeding the great revolutionary crisis of the breaks in [00:18:00] 1774. With the Boston Port Act and the Massachusetts Government Act, you know, in response to the Boston deport, Benison was a bit of an nameless young man.

[00:18:07] our best source for him at this time is the letters he wrote to a college friend, William Bradford, Billy Bradford, who was actually descended from a long line of Quaker printers in Philadelphia. And UMass does a lot of moping part about his health. And, you know, not quite sure to do his career.

[00:18:22] He, read law but Didn’t really wanna pursue it as a career. his father would remain hail and healthy for another 30 years and would still run the plantation. Madison didn’t really wanna be a planter. I mean, he wasn’t, he, he was not enamored of slavery. And so I think in fact what happens is when the revolution breaks out in terms of the, the final crisis of independence, it gave Madison a kinda sense of vocation and mission and profess.

[00:18:45] That he’d lacked before, but he carried with them the legacy of his education. I mean, College of New Jersey under the tutelage of Dr. John Witherspoon, was a pretty serious place. Intellectually, Witherspoon was a, minister in the Kirk of Scotland, you know, Bit of a [00:19:00] presbytery reformer, but I think this was, this was the heyday of what’s called the, sometimes it’s called the Augustine age.

[00:19:06] And, Scottish thinking, you know, producing such great luminaries as, as David Hum and Adam Smith among others. And Madison had access to that body of knowledge at a fairly early point in his learning. So I think he carried with him throughout his life. And, you know, manifested in, in a variety of ways.

[00:19:22] deep immersion in the classic works of, well, you wouldn’t have said political science. You might have said the science of politics. You wouldn’t have said political science then. Mm-hmm. , But Madison, you know, was, it was deeply, you know, was well read, deeply educated and of course carried with them a very powerful intellect.

[00:19:37] Of his own, which is why I called the last book I did on him a, Politician Thinking, The Creative Mind of James Madison. I mean, I’m convinced he was a creative political theorist in the full sense of the term, but not in the classical sense of writing, like, let’s say Hobbs or whatever.

[00:19:53] Perhaps a bit more like ma of el writing your early 16th century, you know? Well with the rich political experience of his own. [00:20:00] Yeah. Lock had some and, and Hops had some, Mave had a lot more, I think Madison is, that’s Madison Ma Valley, you know, Macc and M ad in the, in the alphabet are that sense kinda pretty close together.

[00:20:13] I mean, they had a lot of experience about which they thought, quite actively and quite creatively and, and quite profound.

[00:20:19] Cara: so you’ve given us a l I many of us know him as the father of the Constitution, or at least we did until we saw Hamilton and found out a little bit more about that relationship.

[00:20:30] But no, he is known as the father of the Constitution, and you’ve given us some insight into sort of why he might have been prepared. To take on that role. But he’s also known, for the Federalist Papers. as we also hear in Hamilton, as for those of us who’ve forgotten our high school history lessons, can you talk a little bit about some of his central arguments in the Federalist Papers and why, why they’re so important for us to still learn about today?

[00:20:55] Jack Rakove: Well, let me back up a little bit. there’s actually a volume of Madison essays out there where we de which I think [00:21:00] is eventually gonna come out maybe a year or so where I wrote the kind of the lead off essay and, you know, the whole notion of his father of the constitutions a bit of a primitive idea.

[00:21:08] I don’t think it’s the best way to think. what I think makes more sense to think about is, I mean, what does it mean to say you, you’re the father of the Constitution, which has multiple drafters. I have colleagues, author that say, Actually, you know, if you really wanna look for a literal author some ways Governor Morris from Pennsylvania or James Wilson, also from Pennsylvania probably have as good a claim as Madison.

[00:21:27] Madison lost a lot of the key points he favored most. what I think is most important is to say that Madison was really the agenda. I think in the period, particularly let’s say from the summer of early, late summer, early fall of 1786, the time of the Annapolis Convention meeting which is kind of a prologue or a prelude to the Constitution convention, you know, down to May 17 seven.

[00:21:48] I think no one thought more seriously or more deeply about the kinds of problems, the federal convention or the constitutional convent. Would have to face, and I think so when, you know, when Madison Show [00:22:00] Madison had not drafted the Virginia plan, what we call the Virginia Plan, which was the initial set of resolutions on which the Convention Act was drafted only once the Virginia Delegates were there.

[00:22:10] They were caucusing with the Pennsylvania Douglas while waiting for everybody else to show up. So I think the key thing to think about here is less, you know, what does it mean the father of the Constitution, That’s a kind of, it’s a nice title. I’m not sure what it means analytically, but to think of it as an agenda shaper.

[00:22:25] As a person who had kind of done the most to kind of block out the issues that the 12 delegations, you know, attending Rhode Island never showed, didn’t come would have to face, I think it’s, I think it’s a better formulation. The Federalists, of course, with a set of, , 85 essays that Hamilton, Madison and, and John Jay is kind of the, you know, the third author wrote in Defense of the Constitution.

[00:22:48] They started being published in the early fall of 1787. seven weeks or so after, after the convention adjourned and may asso go back to Virginia. He never would’ve written any of the essays, They were a, [00:23:00] primarily at a New York audience, cuz New York, everybody knew was gonna be a very divided state.

[00:23:04] But Madison stuck around in New York City, which was the national capital. And when Hamilton was rounding out the authorship and one or two of the other people he approached, bowed out or didn’t wanna take it on. And John Jay, Madison became the logical choice I think it’s had a momentous impact of on how we think about the American Constitution.

[00:23:22] , Often today we, we describe the Constitution, it’s the Madisonian constitution. It’s not only clear to me what, that phrase to notes of, there are multiple ways you could work it out and explain it. But typically I think the core proposition. Rest upon Madison’s arguments, particularly in essays.

[00:23:40] Federalist 10 and Federalist 51. It’s the kind of thing that you’ll read in most AP US Judici classes or most introductory classes in American political science, but you get, once you get to college and so on. So Federalist 10 makes a, famous argument. Arguing that in opposition to the kind of conventional wisdom that derived in some ways from [00:24:00] Montesquieu, you know, the great French political philosopher, the mid 18th century, that instead of thinking of republics to be secure and stable of being small, homogeneous ro homogeneous societies. In fact, there would be greater stability in the Republican form government if you had what mass would call a multiplicity of interests and also a multiplicity of factions, meaning in a sense you have to take instead of presupposing as classical Republican thinkers have done.

[00:24:27] For a Republican to survive, the citizens all had to be virtuous, meaning that they would know how to subordinate private interest to public good. Madison’s theory was, no, we have to take mankind as we find them. They, you know, we have vices of various kinds. Vice here doesn’t mean just doing sort of deeds.

[00:24:43] It means more kind of pursuing self-interest instead of public spirited activity. So Madison’s theory, you know, in fact was that there may be greater stability to re. If we recognize to have a multiplicity of interest, may, you know, may actually contribute to the long term stability. if no one can form a majority faction.

[00:24:59] [00:25:00] I’m here to ask you to go back to your earlier question. Madison, here was probably drawing, at least to some extent on some of his reading in David Hume’s political essays. Mm-hmm. , it was a kinda long running controversy, or, you know, argument about exactly how much Madison derived, took me from an essay by Hume called Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth.

[00:25:16] So is argument number one, when you turn a, the second major essay that you know defines their notion of Madison Constitution is federal is 51. That’s an essay, which it kind of concludes five series of five essays that Madison had written about the separation of powers. Meaning already maintained some system of checks and balances among, , , , the three basic departments any Republican government.

[00:25:37] And here Madison hypothesized probably incorrectly that the real source of stability would be the idea that members of each branch would feel a kind of institutional loyalty to maintaining the rights, powers and privileges. of the branch to which they belong. I’m not sure Madison was wholly convinced of.

[00:25:56] Because he concludes that essay, not by rounding out his idea about conservation of [00:26:00] powers, but going back and restating the argument of Federalist Tent Mass. Mass thought Federalist Tent was actually the more powerful argument. This whole argument about faction in society as opposed to . , , balancing institutions within the government.

[00:26:12] There’s a famous line in federal essence says, Interest must be ambition must be made to Conner Act ambition. The interest of the men must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. most modern commentaries would say that doesn’t work very. And we know this from the history political parties that party loyalty takes precedence over attachment to one’s institutions. Not that attachment to one’s institutions is irrelevant. I mean, it is a factor of sorts, but particularly living as we do now in a Hyperpartisan universe. And, you know, if they looking at the, the, two failed impeachments of Donald Trump , , it is not a rash conclusion to.

[00:26:46] That party loyalty is probably the more important factor.

[00:26:49] GR: Well, speaking of party loyalty and given the fact that I’m. At uva. I’m gonna start off with a question about Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. So, as you know, they were co-founders of our first [00:27:00] opposition political party known as the Democratic Republicans, which is our, you know, which sharply disagreed about nationalizing, the Federalist partisan policies and the work of Washington Adams Marshall and Hamilton.

[00:27:13] What do teachers and students today know about this? Partisan battle in the 1790s. And was Madison the constitution maker? Was he consistent with his party leader?

[00:27:27] Jack Rakove: Well they responded to events the way uh, , , , the way it has to respond, So what te there’s a kind of technical problem here, which is when Madison talks about factions.

[00:27:38] In Federalist Ten, did he mean political parties? You know, which we can, you know, in 18th century English politics, there are lots of parliamentary factions. So the concept of faction and party do aide. I don’t think that was necessarily true in Madison’s case. For a variety of reasons. I think it’s a somewhat complicated story. I mean, originally the divisions [00:28:00] broke out I think primarily in 1791 over well, 1790. 1791, over Hamilton’s financial plans. And Madison begins by organizing you know, in Madison was serving the House of Representatives, Jefferson and Secretary of State.

[00:28:14] The two of them were opposed to Hamilton’s policies for a variety of reasons. So they do start courting potential allies in different states. They make a famous trip up the Hudson to see Governor George Clinton in Albany, which is sometimes seen as an attempt to start bringing out some kind of political alliance.

[00:28:30] But, I think the problem with that model is, and the, oh, this doesn’t sound too typical, but is that Hamilton’s plan in the end was a great success and it was adopted and it works very well. It’s hard to see how the disagreement over some very technical financial policies. Is it good? Do you have a national bank or not?

[00:28:51] Is it good idea to fund the debt or not? You know, the national debt or not? Those are the, the actual issues. You know, I’m kinda skeptical that they , would’ve provided a lasting basis. [00:29:00] Performing political parties. I, I think the key thing that really happened doesn’t really occur until Washington’s second administration, which of course began in March, 1793, because that coincides with the eruption of, when Great Britain enters the kind of anti French re, enters the alliance, the European Alliance that’s trying to suppress or contain the French Revolution.

[00:29:21] And that created a host of issue. For Americans that I think had a much more vivid and potent effect on political sentiments. And, you know, instead of worrying about banking, which goes be honest, it’s a kind of technical issue. The few people understand very well, or, you know, funded public debt. , whether you were foreign against the French Revolution.

[00:29:41] You know, it’s a bit today. Are you, are you farther, you creatings you for the. In a sense, you know, that, I don’t wanna say it’s more sensational, but I think it had a bigger impact and it made, politics more competitive. And then the other thing that happened is that particularly for Madison, well, for Madison Jefferson, both is they [00:30:00] ca because when Ford policy comes to the fore, the president has all the advantages.

[00:30:06] The presence is the decisive. In terms of making foreign policy and of course it was hard to compete over the presidency so long as George Washington. Wanted to be president. we worry a lot today about how the electoral college functions. It doesn’t matter what the mode of presidential election is, so long as Washington wants be president, you’re always gonna get the same result.

[00:30:26] But once it’s recognized that Washington’s really, anxious and eager, and almost desperate to get back to Mount Vernon, the two parties are ready to go. They just have to wait for, was to announce he’s actually gonna retire. The Republicans are ready to push Jeff. And that’s, I think, primarily Madison’s doing.

[00:30:42] And the Federalist though, though, Andrew Alexander Hamilton wasn’t crazy about this, were generally gonna rally around John Adams, who of course had been Washington’s two term vice presidents. So once even the Washington delayed announcement of his retirement as long as he could, which kind of muted.

[00:30:57] Partisan activity. Once he announced that both parties were [00:31:00] ready to go, they were ready to start competing actively in the appointment of presidential electors. So I think, you know, to be, I hope I haven’t sounded too technical here. You know, I think the critical passage here, it’s not the original falling out.

[00:31:12] Between Madison, Jefferson on the one hand, and Hamilton on the other. It’s really the way in which having , these hotly disputed issues of foreign policy amped up or ratcheted up. the political temper of the nations, Oh, of course, the Jay Treaty. I won’t go the details yet. the Jay Treaty also became a big part of this controversy as well.

[00:31:29] And then once you start competing for the presidency, you have a powerful incentive to coordinate political activity across state lines.

[00:31:36] GR: It’s so good for us to hear, particularly our students and teachers just how. Political and divided. Our national politics were in 1790 because there are many today who would think, I guess, in a non ecclesiastical way, that, there’s nothing new under the sun.

[00:31:53] This has actually been a long part of American politics, so thanks for putting that in perspective. Another issue from that time [00:32:00] period that’s with us today and hotly contested is the issue of slavery. Could you talk to us about James Madison’s personal and constitutional handling or mishandling of slavery?

[00:32:11] Jack Rakove: Yeah. It’s hard to discuss the mishandling since no one, one sense, nobody really handled it until you get to the Civil War. Madison was the eldest son and the, heir apparent for the Montpelier plantation outside Orange County, which, you know, Gerard, I assume you must have visited.

[00:32:26] By this point. and, and if you had it, absolutely. And if you had it, you should be embarrassed. Cause I’m, I’m glad you’ve been there. I was on their board , I was on there board for 10 years. I think technically Madison did not become a slave owner to use the current language, I think, until his father died.

[00:32:42] I may be wrong about this, but I think Madison was, would actually have been 50 years. When he, became an active slaveholder, of course, from that point on, he was in charge of the plantation. And he was the owner of the, you know, I think at any given time, probably, you know, 150 or so slaves, , who would’ve resided [00:33:00] there.

[00:33:00] Madison’s, I think on the substance side, there are a couple important points. You know, Madison’s is the original author of What’s, you know, the three fifths clause or sometimes known as, I think the federal ratio. it first came. Not in 1787 in the debate over representation in the House of Representatives under the new Constitution first came up in 1783 as a way of trying to figure out to come up with a better formula for allocating the common expenses of the war among the 13 states.

[00:33:28] There’s a very complicated rule in the Article Confederation, which one could never have enforced. I was just wholly imp practic. had been first proposed and endorsed by Colonel Congress , 17 77 but never successfully implied after the articles were ratified. So originally it’s just, it’s, essentially, way to, kind of a formula.

[00:33:46] and we’ll go to the algorithm, but a kind of simple, a simple formula for all allocating expenses. It comes up again in 1787 as part of the debate over representation. In the House of Representatives. So now it has a larger purpose. it’s [00:34:00] linked in a kind of somewhat disingenuous way to the question of not only how would you apportion members of the House of Representatives across the states, but also how would you levy what called direct taxe?

[00:34:11] On the American people. And the idea was a direct tax is something like a poll tax, a head tax a tax on land, a tax on windows. But you know, the problem here is nobody, everybody kind of followed gal. The other Hamilton’s we. Assume that you would never levy direct taxes. They’re the most offensive forms of taxation.

[00:34:29] There are other mechanisms you’d rather apply, but the idea of direct taxation representation were linked together to say where you’ve kind of fashioned a political compromise here. I think the important thing to know, and this is, this is a point I, I took some length explaining my students at Stanford, is that when we think about slavery at the Constitutional convention, and we think about the three fifth.

[00:34:48] I think the logic behind it, and this is a kind of complicated point, is there, we think there were two compromises over representation at Philadelphia. In 17 87, one had to [00:35:00] do with giving the states wholly independent of the size of our population, an equal vote of the Senate. And the other had to do with the three fifth clause as a basis for giving the slave states more representation they than they would’ve had had you allocated representation only on the basis of free citizens allocated representatives on the basis of free citizens is the proper.

[00:35:21] Slaves have no legal or political existence. they’re never gonna vote. , They literally, they have no legal rights at all. So they may be members of the society. They’re not really part of the polity. But there’s a difference. There’s a big difference between the slavery question and the equal state vote Question, and I, I, I’ve explained this year and a year out to my.

[00:35:41] Is that my argument with something like this, if you wanna preserve a federal union over the long run, slavery or its absence are longstanding issues that you’re gonna have to deal with. That’s to say they identify fundamental components of society. The idea of living in a small state or a large [00:36:00] state is wholly completely.

[00:36:02] I. It has no effect on how anyone votes, whether you’re a citizen or a legislator. Nobody says what’s good for the small states or what’s good for the large states. the size of a state does not define the interest it contains. And, since you’re UVA grid, think about the, the Del Marva Peninsula.

[00:36:20] for those, those of you don’t know, it’s that said, long peninsula that, stretches down the east side of the Chesapeake Bay. It contains counties from three states, Delaware, which is one of the, two small states, Maryland, which is a middle size state, and of course Virginia, which is a large state.

[00:36:36] nobody living on the Delmarva Peninsula would vote on the basis of the size of the population of the. in which he or she lived. Well, in those days you’d have to say he they would vote on the basis of their interest. And everybody living on that peninsula pretty much has the same set of interests.

[00:36:51] I mean, it’s not that, it’s not that one part of the Delmarva Peninsula is very different from the other. So I think what Madison understood, and I actually think in a sense he’s [00:37:00] correct about this, is that the three fears clause, which we find so morally offensive because we think, I think incorrectly, that it’s inherently racist, was in fact for better or worse a compromise and the equal state vote was a speech compromise because it, didn’t represent any lasting interests within the larger society.

[00:37:18] Slavery and freedom were the issues you’d have to keep fighting over until you get to the Civil War. When you did fight over them. You know, let’s say you keep struggling over them until you actually find yourself fighting over them. Small and water states are, those are non-start.

[00:37:29] GR: Understandable, great presentation on some very difficult topics, but you’ve done a great job providing some historical context and nuance to it. I’m not gonna turn it over to you to read a a chapter of your choice from. One of your mini books,

[00:37:45] Jack Rakove: I’ll read the first paragraph from chapter one of my book, Original Meanings. It’s mostly Madison and a good part of it actually is Madison’s Pros and not mine. So listen carefully. So we’re starting with a quotation. The infant periods of most [00:38:00] nations are buried in silence or veiled in.

[00:38:03] James Madison observed in July 18, 19, and perhaps the world may have lost, but little, which in need regret. This was no casual observation. Yours earlier, Madison had mounted a serious historical project of his own studying the history of the most distinguished confederacy, particularly those of antiquity, as part of his preparations for the great Federal Convention of 1787.

[00:38:27] It was the curiosity I had felt during my research. Who we recall near the close of his life and the deficiency I found, or the means of satisfying it more, especially in what related to the process, the principles, the reasons, and the anticipations, which prevailed in the formation of these considerations to convince Madison to preserve as far as I could, in exact account of what might pass in the convention at Philadelphia.

[00:38:51] That the convention fulfilled its trust. His notes would enable future generations to recover the objects, the opinions, and the reasonings from which the new system of [00:39:00] government had taken its form. Nor was I unaware of the value of such a contribution to the funds of material for the history of a constitution on which would be stake the happiness of a young people.

[00:39:11] Great, even in its infancy and possibly the cause of liberty throughout the world. So that’s the opening paragraph of my book, Original Meetings. It’s basically designed to get people to think about our principle source for reconstructing the debates in Philadelphia invention where Madison’s notice of debates and the first paragraph is designed.

[00:39:30] Introduced readers to the importance Madison placed on that entire activity.

[00:39:34] GR: Well, Cara and I thank you professor so much for joining us today. We’re glad for you taking time to take a scholarship that often is only affordable or given access to university students. And you’re now using your voice in this platform to share it with thousands of teachers, educators uh, Americans who went to college many years ago, some who have never gone.

[00:39:57] but who are all influenced by the [00:40:00] Constitution and the founding generation that helped to create it.

[00:40:03] Jack Rakove: Okay. Well, thank you. Thank you Gerard and Cara. It’s been a real pleasure for me too.[00:41:00]

[00:41:59] Cara: Gerard, I’m gonna [00:42:00] close it out with a fascinating tweet of the week, something that I wasn’t aware of and I am now going to follow. This was tweeted yesterday from Ed Next, and it says, The Lively as a Georgia statewide race about education issues may not. Be the one for governor, but the one for state school superintendent.

[00:42:17] So, I mean, all eyes seem to be on Georgia pretty much all the time when it comes to elections lately, and anybody who’s watching knows that the gubernatorial race is between the incumbent governor Brian Kemp, and of course Democrats. Stacy Abrams, but in the school superintendent’s race now this is just, this is fascinating stuff.

[00:42:35] So the Democrat running for school, superintendent, her name is Alicia Ccy, and she is not only been vocal about, she’s been a vocal supporter of public charter schools and she even backed Georgia’s tax credit scholarship, which isn’t unusual necessarily, but is unusual. nowadays for a Democrat who is running for state [00:43:00] superintendent, so actually the unions are backing her Republican.

[00:43:05] Opponent simply because she’s somebody who stands up and says, Yep, I wanna be your superintendent. And oh, by the way, I’m not gonna pretend that I don’t think charter schools are a good idea or that families shouldn’t have choice. So my attention is turned. I’m gonna be watching this race.

[00:43:19] And I wanna say, I don’t know Miss seriously, but. More power to you for saying exactly what it is you believe instead of doing the appropriate political thing and pretending like, you didn’t have an opinion about school choice that was favorable. So Gerard, I don’t know if you’ve got thoughts on this one.

[00:43:38] GR: Yeah, no, I personally know Alicia and her family she’s an educator, lawmaker she’s about the business of children and teachers. So all eyes are on Georgia and all eyes are on Alicia, who’s also a graduate of Spelman College. So we shall see Georgia. It sounds good. Is on my. [00:44:00] George

[00:44:00] Cara: is on my mind too now.

[00:44:01] I just, I’m loving this. All right, Gerard. It’s that time, It’s time for us to close out the show, but we will be back together next week with a Amar Kumar, the founder and CEO of Kai Pod Learning. Until then, Gerard, don’t eat that candy cuz I’m gonna ask you again next week if you broke down.

[00:44:22] GR: I’m gonna have kale chips instead.

[00:44:24] Yeah. Put a put,

[00:44:26] Cara: put a kick hat on your kale chips, my friend

[00:44:31] GR: Have a good one. Take care.[00:45:00]

Recent Episodes

Award Winner Peter Cozzens on Tecumseh, the Indian Wars & the American West

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard talk with Peter Cozzens, the award-winning author of The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West. As National Native American Heritage Month winds down, Mr. Cozzens reviews what our schoolchildren should know about Native Peoples’ innumerable contributions and heart-wrenching experiences.

Award-Winner Nathaniel Philbrick on the Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard talk with Nathaniel Philbrick, historian, winner of the National Book Award, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and author of Mayflower: Voyage, Community, and War. Mr. Philbrick shares what we should know about the actual historical events of the First Thanksgiving in 1621.

Georgia’s Alisha Thomas Searcy on School Choice, Teacher Unions, & Elections

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard talk with Alisha Thomas Searcy, the Democratic nominee for Georgia state school superintendent. She shares her experience as a former six-term state legislator and school leader; her recent bid for Georgia’s top education post; and her passion for K-12 education reform.

KaiPod Learning’s Amar Kumar on Homeschooling Pods & Blended Education

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard talk with Amar Kumar, founder and CEO of KaiPod Learning, a network of in-person education centers for online learners and homeschoolers, based in Massachusetts. They discuss how the pandemic dramatically changed parents’ sentiments about their traditional public schools, opening the door to wider private school choice options, including homeschooling, micro schools, and pods.

Stanford’s Pulitzer-Winning Prof. Jack Rakove on James Madison, The Federalist Papers, & U.S. Constitutionalism

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and Gerard talk with Dr. Jack Rakove, Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. Professor Rakove reviews the biography of James Madison, often called the "Father of the Constitution," and the influence of classical and Enlightenment learning on his farsighted political thought and leadership.

UK’s Miranda Seymour on Mary Shelley and Frankenstein for Halloween

This week on a Halloween edition of “The Learning Curve," guest host Mary Z. Connaughton talks with Miranda Seymour, novelist and definitive biographer of Mary Shelley, author of the classic Gothic novel, Frankenstein.

UCLA’s Dr. Maryanne Wolf on Reading, Brain Science, & the Digital Age

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Maryanne Wolf, Director of the Center for Dyslexia and Diverse Learners at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and the author of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World.

Jeff Wetzler, Co-founder of Transcend, on Innovation in School Design

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Jeff Wetzler, co-founder of Transcend, a nonprofit focused on innovation in school design that works with hundreds of school communities in over two dozen states in America.

NYT Best Seller Laurence Bergreen on 530th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus Discovering the New World

On this special Columbus Day edition of “The Learning Curve," guest host Pioneer Institute's Mary Z. Connaughton talks with Laurence Bergreen, a prize-winning biographer, historian, chronicler of exploration, and the author of Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504. Mr. Bergreen discusses what people should know about the life, career, and myths around Christopher Columbus, the courageous, ruthless, and complicated explorer and navigator, on the 530th anniversary of his history-changing and ever-controversial discovery of the New World.

NACSA’s Dr. Karega Rausch on Charter Public School Authorizing

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Karega Rausch, President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Dr. Rausch shares some of his background, his interest in K-12 education reform and charter public schools, and lessons from Indiana and other states that inform his work.

Khan Academy’s Sal Khan & ASU Prep Digital’s Amy McGrath on the Khan World School @ ASU Prep

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, and Amy McGrath, the Chief Operating Officer of ASU Prep and Deputy Vice President of ASU Educational Outreach.

Hoover at Stanford’s Dr. Niall Ferguson on Britain, the English-Speaking World, & the Politics of Catastrophe

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Niall Ferguson, the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. He is the author of 16 books, including "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe."