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title:“Rev. James Madison to James Madison”
authors:Rev. James Madison
date written:1789-8-15

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James, Rev .. "Letter to James Madison." Creating the Bill of Rights. Ed. Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. 277-78. Print.
Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress

Rev. James Madison to James Madison (August 15, 1789)

That the Business of Amendments has been entered upon in so dispassionate a Manner must afford real Satisfaction to every Friend to the Union. Some of those proposed appear to be important, at least in removing the Objections of many of the opponents to the Constitution; tho' I do not observe that the Comm{itt}ee. has proposed such as appear of the first Magnitude. Would it not be adviseable to seize the present Moment to render the Constitution more perfect in the most essential Parts; or to do away those Defects, wh. it's warmest Friends admit, must eventually if continued, render the Govt. less prosperous.1 Suppose, for Instance, that the Union of the Legislative & Executive Powers was entirely done away—& that the Executive, or cheif Magistrate, had his Council with whom he shd. always consult & not with a Branch of the Legislature. Let the Senate be entirely confined to the Object of Legislation, let not one of the it's Members be styled Vice-Presidt. But let the Senior Councillor transact the necessary Business in Case of Inability—or Absence of a President. I wd. not wish to weaken the Hands of the Executive, or diminish aught of the powers assigned by the Constitution, but I think they might be modelled anew in a Manner, wh. wd. promise more Stability & Prosperity to the Genl. Govt. Other Improvements of perhaps a more important Nature may have occurred to you, who have so long & so deeply reflected upon the Subject; and if it were not presumptuous to advise one who will always be directed by the most enlightened & patriotic Views, I wd. recommend the present Moment as the most proper to attempt the Introduction of them.
Defects themselves gain Strength & Respect by Time. Wd. it not then be better to expose fully, & in the Manner of wh. you are so capable, those Alteration wh. are necessary, or wch. wd. in Theory render the Govt. more perfect. The first Object shd. be to render the Theory as perfect as possible: if the Theory be such, the Practice will be correspondent. Principles wh. are true in Theory, cannot fail in the Execution of them. Besides such an Exposition of those Alterations wh. wd. really render the Govt. more perfect, if they were not adopted at present, wd. at least have this important Effect: it wd. fix the public Mind upon those great & necessary Improv{em}ents; it wd. thus be gradually prepared for them, & Time might bring about, what the Spirit of Faction may now prevent. I hope then, as you have begun, you will compleat, or attempt to compleat the arduous Task.

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