Guest Essayist: Kevin R. C. Gutzman, J.D., Ph.D., Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Department of History, Western Connecticut State University and Author, James Madison and the Making of America

James Madison spent much of late 1786 and early 1787 at work on what one historian called his “research project.”  Having participated in helping bring about the interstate convention that was going to meet in Philadelphia in May 1787, he intended to apply both historical knowledge and practical experience to the task of shaping proposals he would make as a member of Virginia’s delegation to the convention.

To that end, he drafted a memorandum on the history of federal governments.  He also gathered his notes on problems in the American federal system under the Articles of Confederation into an eleven-point memorandum. Read more

In this essay, Madison outlines the main issues that the Constitutional Convention should address. His early arrival in Philadelphia allowed him to incorporate his ideas into a recommended plan for the Convention–what came to be called the Virginia Plan–representing no mere revision of the Articles of Confederation, but the adoption of an entirely new Constitution.

April 1787

1. Failure of the States to comply with the Constitutional requisitions.

This evil has been so fully experienced both during the war and since the peace, Read more