AEI scholar and historian Lynne Cheney’s new book, “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered,” has debuted to rave reviews, and her work promises to add new dimensions to our understanding of America’s fourth president. On Monday evening, she sat down for a book discussion with her husband, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The book delves into Madison’s life as an intellectual, presidential adviser, and commander in chief. As Mrs. Cheney explained to the audience, Madison has never been particularly appreciated by historians, despite being the primary author of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Madison’s great gift, she said, was his ability to set aside conventional wisdom and challenge accepted ways of thinking, which served him well as a crusader for limited government but put him at odds with fellow Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Cheney argued that Madison’s foresight is evident in the very words of the Constitution, which now apply to situations and technologies of which Madison could not conceive. His many accomplishments are even more significant given his lifelong history of seizures, which Mrs. Cheney explores to an unparalleled extent in her book.
The interview between Mr. and Mrs. Cheney offered a rare opportunity to hear one political “power couple” discuss another: James and Dolley Madison. When asked to compare their dynamic to that between the Madisons, Mrs. Cheney maintained that like Dolley Madison, she often offered personal advice to her husband during his political service, while never giving political advice.
In her compelling new biography of James Madison, “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” (Viking, May 2014), Lynne Cheney makes clear Madison’s central place among America’s founders. He was not only the father of the Constitution and author of the Bill of Rights, but he was also essential to setting the young Republic in motion.
In her new book, Cheney unearths the sources of his genius, exploring his rivalry with Alexander Hamilton, whose expansive vision of government Madison opposed. She likewise traces his friendship with Thomas Jefferson and his relationship with his beloved wife, Dolley Payne Todd Madison, one of the most glamorous women of the day.
At this Bradley Lecture, Lynne Cheney will be interviewed by her husband, former Vice President Dick Cheney, about her new book. Books will be available for sale at the event, and a book signing will follow.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI
Lynne Cheney, AEI
Richard Cheney, Former Vice President of the United States
Adjournment and Reception
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Richard B. Cheney served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 alongside President George W. Bush. During his terms as vice president, Cheney was best known for his involvement in national security matters following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He likewise served as White House chief of staff during the Gerald Ford administration. After that, Cheney returned to his home state of Wyoming where he was elected in 1978 as the state’s sole member of Congress. Reelected to the office five times, Cheney served in several leadership positions and was chosen by his colleagues as deputy majority leader of the House of Representatives. In 1989, early in Cheney’s sixth term, he was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to serve as secretary of defense. In his four years at the Pentagon, Cheney helped lead American forces to victory in Operation Just Cause in Panama and in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf. In 1991, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Throughout most of the 1990s, Cheney worked in the private sector as chief executive officer of Halliburton in Dallas. Cheney has authored two books, his memoir, “In My Time” (Threshold Editions, 2011), and “Heart: An American Medical Odyssey” (Scribner, 2013).
Lynne Cheney has spent much of her professional life writing and speaking about the importance of knowing American history and teaching it well. As chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993, she wrote and spoke about the importance of teaching children about the leaders, events, and ideas that have shaped our world, and she worked to provide opportunities for teachers to gain the in-depth knowledge that lies behind inspired instruction. Cheney has worked to bring tales of the American past to a wide audience, writing articles about history for numerous publications on topics ranging from women’s suffrage in the West to the way Americans celebrated the country’s centennial. She has also turned her attention to children and their families, writing six bestselling history books for them, the most recent being “We the People: The Story of Our Constitution” (Simon & Schuster, 2008). Her most recent book is an in-depth biography of James Madison titled “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” (Viking, 2014).