"Revolutionary America! 1763-1789 April 20-November 3, 2002

The Miracle at Philadelphia

Three Visionaries: James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton

photo of exhibit section

In this photo:
ILLUMINATIONS of the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, gifts to Herbert Hoover
  On loan from the collection of:
    --Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch IA
TREATISE, "A letter from Phocion ... in consequence of peace ..." by Alexander Hamilton, 1784
    --University of Iowa Main Library, Special Collections, Iowa City IA
PORTRAIT (reproduction) of James Madison (cutout figure)
PORTRAIT (reproduction) of Benjamin Franklin (top right)
PORTRAIT (reproduction) of Alexander Hamilton (center)

THREE VISIONARIES

JAMES MADISON,
Father of the Constitution

JAMES MADISON was a shy, studious and soft-spoken Virginia planter who became an unlikely hero. He lacked an imposing presence (at barely 5'4" tall); he was not an orator that stirred emotions; he did not write inspiring phrases. Rather, James Madison was an articulate and methodical man with clearly defined goals, who developed a plan for the new U.S. government that could evolve over time and circumstances.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,
The Voice of Reason

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN helped to negotiate the Peace Treaty of 1783 and attended the Constitutional Convention at the age of 81. His calm presence during the months of emotional debate led to important compromises that reinstated national unity. When the Constitution was finally signed, Franklin pointed to the carved sun on the back of the president's chair. "I have often looked at that sun," he said, "without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now ... I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun."

ALEXANDER HAMILTON,
Brilliant Administrator

A veteran of the Revolution, ALEXANDER HAMILTON envisioned the United States as becoming the richest country in the world. He suspected, however, that a government by the people would turn into mob rule, and helped to create a strong Chief Executive office. As one author of the Federalist Papers (along with James Madison and John Jay), he argued eloquently for ratification of the Constitution. And as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington, he put U.S. finances in order and quickly got America out of debt.

 

How Did We Do? Sub-Sections
The High Price of Liberty
George Washington
Miracle at Philadelphia
  Three Visionaries: James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton (You are here)
  The First President of the United States
The Real Revolution
  The Original Rebels

 

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