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Broadwater’s New Book Explores the Complexities of Jefferson and Madison’s Friendship and Their Collaborative Work

WILSON, N.C. — June 10, 2019 — Comprehending the complicated relationships of both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is no easy task, but author Jeff Broadwater embraces the opportunity to shed light on both relationships and how they are inextricably intertwined in his latest book, “Jefferson, Madison, and the Making of the Constitution.” Published by the University of North Carolina Press in Chapel Hill, the book should be available on June 10.

Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and Madison, “Father of the Constitution,” were two of the most important Founders of the United States as well as the closest of political allies. Yet historians have often seen a tension between the idealistic rhetoric of the Declaration and the more pedestrian language of the Constitution. Moreover, to some, the adoption of the Constitution represented a repudiation of the democratic values of the Revolution.

In this book, Broadwater explores the evolution of the constitutional thought of these two seminal American figures, from the beginning of the American Revolution through the adoption of the Bill of Rights. In explaining how the two political compatriots could have produced such seemingly dissimilar documents but then come to a common constitutional ground, Broadwater reveals how their collaboration—and their disagreements—influenced the full range of constitutional questions during this early period of the American republic.

“We can go a long way … by considering together the evolution of Jefferson’s and Madison’s constitutional thought from roughly the adoption of the Declaration of Independence to the ratification of the Constitution and the passage of the Bill of Rights,” shares Broadwater in the preface of the book. “Admittedly, Jefferson and Madison were only two among the many people who played a part in the American founding, but no other two had larger roles in the events that unfolded between 1776 and 1789.” Ultimately, they came to agree, as Broadwater writes later in the book, “that the achievements of the American Revolution could not be preserved without a constitutional revolution.”

Early reviews of the book are strong. Todd Estes at Oakland University refers to Broadwater’s new book as “innovative and engrossing,” while underscoring how this work “illuminates the friendship between Jefferson and Madison and then uses that connection to probe thoughtfully the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.” And, James Read at College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University notes, “Well-researched, finely written, and persuasive in its argument, Broadwater’s book succeeds in shedding fresh light on both Jefferson and Madison.”

Jeff Broadwater, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus of history at Barton College in Wilson and the author of several additional books including “George Mason, Forgotten Founder,” “James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation,” “Adlai Stevenson and American Politics: The Odyssey of a Cold War Liberal,” and “Eisenhower and the Anti-Communist Crusade.” In May of this year, the University of North Carolina Press released a book Broadwater co-edited with Troy Kickler of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, titled “North Carolina’s Revolutionary Founders.” Additionally, he has written numerous articles, essays, book reviews, and papers, and presented many public lectures.

Broadwater has won numerous awards during the course of his professional career, including but not limited to high praise by the “Washington Post” for his third book, “George Mason, Forgotten Founder,” as one of the Best Non-Fiction Books of 2006. That third book also earned him the Richard Slattern Award in 2006 by the Virginia Historical Society. In 2012, his biography of Madison received the Ragan Old North State Award from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. In 2016, the Virginia Historical Society awarded him with the William M. E. Rachal Award for overall best article to appear in its journal, which recognized his work titled “James Madison and the Constitution: Reassessing the ‘Madison Problem,’” in volume 123, number 3, of the “Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.”

Broadwater’s book is available in hardcover and as an e-book through the University of North Carolina Press at https://unc.longleafservices.org/, and through Amazon and many bookstores.