Lance Banning’s Interpretation of James Madison
Cover of issue 32
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Lance Banning’s Interpretation of James Madison: An Appreciation and Critique. (2003). The Political Science Reviewer, 32, 269-317.


Scholarship on the political thought and career of James Madison is still dominated by a prevailing "Hamiltonian"" interpretation. Set forth by such prominent scholars as Irving Brant, Martin Diamond, and George Carey, the ""Hamiltonian"" interpretation views the years surrounding the formation of the Constitution as the most productive years of Madison’s career and argues that he was a fervent nationalist and a proponent of centralizing reform throughout this period. During the 1780s, these scholars argue, Madison sought to address the impotence of the national government under the Articles of Confederation, but was even more concerned about the problem of majority tyranny within the states. Madison’s constitutional reform program therefore hinged on the consolidation of extensive powers in the national government, broad construction of constitutional charters, the establishment of an extended republic that would diffuse majority factions, and the addition of a power in the national government to veto state laws.
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