Sep 16, 2020
On this episode of the Life in the Carolinas podcast, Carl sits down with historical performer Kyle Jenks, who portrays Founding Father and fourth U.S. president James Madison.
The Constitution was drafted amid a weak confederacy under the Articles of Confederation. In the early 1780s after the victory of Yorktown and the official surrender with the Treaty of Paris, nothing was actually certain until the papers were signed in early 1784, marking the official existence of the United States of America.
This is a fascinating period that Kyle enjoys reflecting on as he explores the maturation of the character of James Madison. He continues the conversation by taking us through what defined the original colonies and how they came together, their vision immortalized through the Declaration of Independence.
According to Kyle, because the U.S. is a Representative Republic, the preamble, “We the People” requires “that the citizens be informed and interested; otherwise, the countrywill disintegrate, sometime.” This was precisely James Madison’s conclusion after looking through the histories of past confederacies. “In the end, even though we have the Electoral College, the citizens must be aware enough to ensure that people in positions of responsibility do their job properly, and they remember that they are servants of the people. People are not servants of their representatives.”
Kyle goes on to recount the life of James Madison, from being known in his childhood days as “Little Jimmy Madison” to his becoming a Founding Father and, shortly after, the fourth president of the United States. Kyle also goes into detail regarding Madison’s relationship with fellow Founding Father and presidential predecessor Thomas Jefferson, with whom he placed a great deal of respect for in spite of a good number of political disagreements. He then explores the all-important yet complicated circumstances around the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence, as well as how the Founding Fathers convinced the citizens of all the different states to embrace the Constitution of the United States following the Revolutionary War.
Finally, Kyle takes us through the love story between James Madison and his wife, North Carolina native Dolley Payne. Kyle concludes: “My studied opinion is that James Madison is our most virtuous Founding Father. If you want to look to a guy as a role model who upheld the principles of the United States Constitution and its added Bill of Rights, remember that he always only had a single thing on the top of his list: ‘What’s best for the country?’ He knew there were compromises to be made. You could not universally satisfy everyone. But he would make a decision and noodle it, noodle it, noodle it until he could say he did the best he could.”
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