Lynne Cheney takes another look at James Madison

By Neal McNamara | June 12, 2014
Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney

Author and historian Lynne Cheney is out with a new biography of founding father James Madison (AP). 

What do you know about James Madison, aside from that he was our fourth president and was from Virginia?

Lynne Cheney, wife of former vice president Dick Cheney, has a new book out about Madison, “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered.” David Boze spoke to Cheney about the book and new revelations about Madison the statesman.

LISTEN: LYNNE CHENEY BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO JAMES MADISON

In the book, Cheney retells the story of a man overshadowed by other founding fathers, one often portrayed as sickly, but one who helped push the colonies to separate from Britain over taxation without representation, and who was mostly responsible for the Constitution.

“Why does his life deserve reconsideration?” Boze asked.

“It seemed to me that Madison is as essential as George Washington,” she said. “But I think that he hasn’t been fully appreciated. I read a survey [of presidents], and Madison ranked behind Grover Cleveland.”

Cheney devotes a good portion of the book to exploring Madison’s physical maladies. She describes how his epilepsy influenced his political philosophy. Madison initially believed, due to popular religion at the time, that his epilepsy was some sort of satanic infestation; after he realized that was not true, he made it a point to ensure that no one had to adhere to religious beliefs if they didn’t want to – thus, separation of church and state.

“James Madison was a firm advocate of religious liberty,” she said.

Boze wondered if researching and writing about Madison gave Cheney more or less hope for the future of America.

“James Madison gives me the inspiration that we have it in our power to make change,” she said. “I find myself getting discouraged about the direction of our country right now. I find Madison’s message that we live in a republic, and that it’s our responsibility to work for things, I find that an inspiring message.”

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