A Commentary on George Washington’s Letter to James Madison: The Constitution Reader Challenge

There is no doubt that George Washington loved his country, and there is no denying that he was concerned for America’s future. Those sentiments were often shared in the letters he wrote. One particular person whom he wrote to often was James Madison.

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On March 31, 1787 George Washington wrote to James Madison, just two months before the Constitutional Convention would begin. They hoped this time things wouldn’t fail as they did a year earlier. It was at that time, when only twelve men from five states were in attendance to amend the Articles of Confederation.

The Articles of Confederation was a great starting block at the start. However, as Washington understood, they were not perfect. They needed to be amended, and it was hoped that during the Constitutional Convention representatives from each of the states would be in attendance, and that progress would not come to an end.

It was in Washington’s letters where he would often share his thoughts and concerns, and those to James Madison were of no exception. James Madison, as we know, was extremely influential in the writing process of the Constitution. This letter is a good example as to the what weighed on George Washington’s mind.

He feared that if things remained, those things that brought this country together would be what would drive the states apart. So, his opinion was that a small federal government that brought the states together would prevent that. It was necessary, as Washington thought, that the states work together to help form this limited role for government.

In this letter, George shared with Madison that he saw the eventual Constitution as one to “be looked to as a luminary, which sooner or later will shed its influence.” If only Washington were alive today to see where we have come and the things we have done.


With special thanks to Constituting America and Heritage College, we will be taking part in their project: The U.S. Constitution: A Reader. It is a 90 day challenge to learn and dive deeper into understanding the Constitution.

In case you missed it, catch up with previous commentaries HERE. We hope you are enjoying this journey to dig deeper into what inspired those who wrote the Constitution. If you are, TWEET IT!


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