George Washington and James Madison
I am working my way through Ron Chernow’s terrific new biography of George Washington. From a constitutional perspective, it’s interesting to reexamine how the Framers tried to figure out the practices of the new Government in 1789. For instance, Washington came to the Senate in person a couple of times to complain or ask questions about some items of legislative business. In effect, he was treating the Senate as the King treated the Privy Council, but quickly abandoned that model. I was also charmed by the image of Washington going on a fishing trip with Jefferson and Hamilton in 1790. (My nominee for “smartest fishing boat” of all time.) And I did not know that Washington became gravely ill in 1790 and that John Adams nearly became President then. (That would have been a disaster. No matter what David McCullough and Paul Giamatti say, that guy was a ridiculous pain-in-the-neck with almost no political skills.)
My favorite story, though, was that James Madison drafted Washington’s First Inaugural, drafted Congress’s reply to the Inaugural, and drafted Washington’s reply to the reply! Do you feel lazy now? I sure do.