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January 19, 2012

The kind of memorial we should all seek

Just finished reading James Madison by Richard Brookhiser. Brookhiser confirmed something I’ve believed and shared with audiences for many years: Madison is viewed as the Father of the Constitution for one very simple reason that is very close to my professor’s heart. He was the only guy taking really good notes.

There’s a very touching phrase in Brookhiser’s epilogue,  where he notes that in contrast to many world-famous leaders, Madison was buried in very simple grave. Brookhiser says: “[I]f you seek his monument, look about you. Madison’s circumambient monument is American constitutionalism—the laws of doing and not doing, and all the debate and revisions they have generated….”

I had never heard the word “circumambient” before, that I remember, but it’s a great word whose meaning is immediately obvious:  all-encompassing, surrounding, in everything.

That’s the kind of memorial we should all seek.


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