Democracy Dies in Darkness

On Leadership

James Madison: Burning down the house

By Lillian Cunningham

January 31, 2016 at 6:59 PM

(Backgrounds by Craig & Karl for The Washington Post; Photo by Amy King/The Washington Post)

James Madison may be best remembered as the father of the constitution, but he was also the nation's first wartime president—and, as such, was the first to wrestle with how to use executive power in the Oval Office during a major national security crisis.

For the fourth episode of the Presidential podcast, we spoke with Madison scholar Jack Rakove about his presidency and whether it has left any imprint on how future commanders-in-chief balance questions of liberty and security during war.

In addition to Rakove, this week's podcast features Washington Post journalists Swati Sharma and Scott Wilson, as well as Julie Miller of the Library of Congress.

The Presidential podcast, consisting of 44 episodes leading up to election day in November, examines the leadership and legacy of each of the American presidents. In our previous episodes, we explored the mythology of George Washingtonwhy John Adams doesn't have a monument, and the controversy of Thomas Jefferson. The podcast is hosted by Lillian Cunningham, editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section.

As listeners tune in each week, the podcast reveals the ways in which our collective sense of what's 'presidential' has evolved over the years and how each president—effective or ineffective, esteemed or forgotten—has something to tell us about what it takes to hold the nation's highest office.

Want to learn more about James Madison? Listen to the fourth episode of Presidential here:

A new episode comes out every Sunday. Here's how to follow along:


Lillian Cunningham is the creator and host of the "Presidential" and "Constitutional" podcasts. She was previously a feature writer for and editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section, for which she received two Emmy Awards for her interviews with leaders in politics, business and the arts.

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On Leadership

James Madison: Burning down the house

By Lillian Cunningham

January 31, 2016 at 6:59 PM

(Backgrounds by Craig & Karl for The Washington Post; Photo by Amy King/The Washington Post)

James Madison may be best remembered as the father of the constitution, but he was also the nation's first wartime president—and, as such, was the first to wrestle with how to use executive power in the Oval Office during a major national security crisis.

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