Tag Archives: James Madison

1.26 – A Monument of Folly and Venality



Year(s) Discussed: 1794-1795

The Jay Treaty finally arrives in Philadelphia, but it turns out to be more of a curse than the blessing for which Washington and his administration were hoping. As Washington and Randolph scramble to figure out what to do with the treaty, the opposition makes preparations for a full-on attack on this treaty with the British. Meanwhile, the Administration learns of US Minister James Monroe’s “fraternal embrace” of the French and goes in search of a special envoy to send to Spain. Diplomacy and political intrigue abound at home and abroad in 1795. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.

Featured Image: “Portrait of John Jay” by Gilbert Stuart [c. 1794], courtesy of Wikipedia


1.25 – The Happy Course



Year(s) Discussed: 1772-1795

As Alexander Hamilton readies himself to depart from the administration at the beginning of 1795, I use this defining point of the Washington presidency to explore various points of domestic policy and foreign issues including the establishment of the Trans-Oconee Republic, the state of the Democratic-Republican faction, the first steps of the Thermadorian government in France, the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland, the influx of refugees from Saint-Domingue and the progress of the Haitian Revolution, and British intrigues in the Caribbean. Many issues face Washington and his new Cabinet secretaries as they enter the final two years of his second term. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.

Featured Image: “Portrait of Tadeusz Kościuszko” by Karl Gottlieb Schweikart, courtesy of Wikipedia


1.21 – The Bigger They Are



Hugh Henry Brackenridge by Clayton Braun, courtesy of Wikipedia

Year(s) Discussed: 1792-1794

The Washington administration is beset by various problems in the west while the British threaten American shipping interests in the West Indies, leading the two nations on the path to war. Though growing ever more tired of his position, President Washington must devise a plan to thwart attempts at rebellion in the west, decide upon an envoy to send east to London to seek out a diplomatic resolution, and begin work to build the US Navy. No rest for a weary President in 1794! Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.


1.205 – Randolph



Edmund Randolph, courtesy of Wikipedia

Year(s) Discussed: 1753-1789

Though well known in his own day, Thomas Jefferson’s successor at the State Department is little known to modern audiences. Thus, I present this special episode in order to help you understand our second Secretary of State. His name has been brought up in the podcast previously as he was the first Attorney General, but there are a few key points that you’ll want to pay attention to about this Virginian’s story as they might just come to play in the not too distant future.

Audio editing for this episode by Andrew Pfannkuche.

The source used for this episode was, to date, the only biography of Randolph that I’ve been able to find:

  • Reardon, John J. Edmund Randolph: A Biography. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co, 1974.

1.18 – Pestilence



The Arch Street Wharf by William Birch [c. 1800] (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Year(s) Discussed: 1786-1793

Washington, his household, and his administration struggle to deal with an epidemic of yellow fever as it makes its way through the city of Philadelphia, indiscriminately infecting people from all walks of life including a resident at the President’s House. In addition to the loss of life, the epidemic brings up questions about how best to utilize medical knowledge to the public good, the role of the press, the relationship of individuals to their environment, and the ability and role of the government in a crisis management situation. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.


1.17 – Genet Must Go



PA Gov. Thomas Mifflin, courtesy of Wikipedia

Year(s) Discussed: 1793

Washington returns to Philadelphia to deal with the continued agitations of French Minister Genêt. Meanwhile, Attorney General Randolph goes south on a fact-finding mission, Philip Freneau continues his attacks against Washington and his administration in the pages of the National Gazette, and events continue to unfold in Europe which have ramifications across the pond. Through all of this, the President has to decide what to do with his partisan Cabinet and how to preserve neutrality without offending either Britain or France. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.


1.14 – The Second Inaugural



Washington’s Inauguration at Philadelphia by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, courtesy of Wikipedia

Year(s) Discussed: 1791-1793

The lead up to Washington’s second inaugural ended up being much more dramatic than anyone could have imagined as personal conflicts threatened the construction of the Federal City, Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds threatened to be made public knowledge, and Representative William Branch Giles filed resolutions against Hamilton accusing him of official misconduct and calling for his dismissal. In the middle of all this, a reluctant president turns to his family for support as he prepares himself for what already appears will be a more turbulent four years ahead than his first term had been. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.


1.13 – Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?



George Washington, Esq, by Edward Savage [c. 1793], courtesy of the Library of Congress
Year(s) Discussed: 1792

Washington has an important decision to make as the Election of 1792 looms. Should he accede to the wishes of many and stand for reelection or should he take his weary bones back to Mount Vernon for the remainder of his days? The growing factional agitations that were exacerbated by Hamilton’s submitting his Report on Manufactures as well as a financial panic in 1792 do little to make the situation better. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds gets ever more complicated. And did the Attorney General just say something about a potential civil war? Washington’s action-packed first term hits some bumpy roads in this episode. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.


1.09 – Agitations



Fisher Ames, courtesy of Wikipedia

Year(s) Discussed: 1789-1791

Increasingly during the Washington administration, tensions were beginning to build between pro-administration and anti-administration factions which would ultimately culminate in the development of the First Party System. This episode looks at some of the structural and cultural reasons for these divisions as well as some of the early leaders of the two factions including, of course Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.


1.08 – Banking and Drinking



Congress Hall in Philadelphia, PA (c. 2007), photo by tim eschaton, courtesy of Wikipedia

Year(s) Discussed: 1789-1791

The government is on the move! As the federal government transitions to its new temporary capitol while Washington selects a site for the permanent capitol along the Potomac, it is also forced to deal with the most controversial proposal put forward to date: the creation of a National Bank. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s proposal of an excise tax on whiskey sails through and a new state is added to the Union. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.