MANY HEADS AND MANY HANDS: James Madison's Search for a More Perfect Union by Mau VanDuren

MANY HEADS AND MANY HANDS: James Madison's Search for a More Perfect Union

byMau VanDuren

Kobo ebook | December 9, 2014

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"This lively and entertaining book begins a much-needed conversation about the modern history that our Founders knew so well and which our generation has largely forgotten." -- Dr. Lynn Uzzell, Resident Scholar at Montpelier

“In this age of Google and Wikipedia, it is understandable that most see history as a pile of facts . . . VanDuren serves up a richer feast. He paints the history of modern democracy as a vast tableau that wanders from its origin in Europe to the United States. VanDuren shows that many of the earliest intellectual and political movers and achievements in this drama are Dutch.” -- Joe A. Oppenheimer, Prof. Emeritus, Government and Politics, University of Maryland

“Those who care about the future of democracy will appreciate Mr. VanDuren’s vigorous and rigorous examination of the way Dutch and English influences worked from the European Middle Ages down through New England, New Amsterdam, and New York to the Federalist Papers and the American Constitution in the late 1780s.”  John C. Kemp, Plimoth Plantation.

Have you ever wondered why we practice separation of church and state? Or have secular marriage, or freedom of religion? Or enjoy democracy and the rule of law? And equality under the law? No taxation without representation? As Americans we hold the concepts dear. Our republic was founded on them and we find them in our Constitution, of which James Madison was the main author.
Madison’s vast knowledge of history was supported by a keen understanding of human nature. Alone in his library, he studied ancient and contemporary nations, foremost the Dutch Republic. The American confederation was modeled on it and both suffered from its shortcomings.
The people in whose footsteps he followed are the subject of this book. Theirs are the “Many Heads and Many Hands” that helped and inspired Madison in his search for a “more perfect union.”
From a cave in South Africa to the Roman Rhine, into Dark-Ages Paris, through the Burgundian lands to the marshes of Holland, and via the fields of England to the shores of America, this is a titanic story of scholars, pastors, princesses, and generals, and of common people too, striving over the centuries for security and freedom, and at last building a government that can promise them both, within the confines of a just law.

About the Author

Born in the Netherlands, Mau grew up in a family of doctors, accountants, artists and musicians; pillars of society and freebooters. He earned his degree in electrical engineering in Utrecht, but found people more interesting. During his many years in international consulting as an information specialist he endeavored to serve the human element in projects as diverse as technical education, institution building, and land reform. Back in the U.S. he engaged in community service, was president of the board of the Takoma Theater, and still participates in a number of local, state and national political campaigns. Mau and his wife Jackie found refuge near Parksley, Virginia.





Title:MANY HEADS AND MANY HANDS: James Madison's Search for a More Perfect UnionFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:December 9, 2014Publisher:Northampton HouseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:193799757X

ISBN - 13:9781937997571


Rated 5 out of 5 by from New historical material about the US constitution! This book provides a fascinating new look at the foundations of the U.S. constitution, filling in a lot of gaps that are not well known to most Americans, even a lot of history buffs. Most of us don't get much beyond the Magna Carta and the standard "canon" of enlightenment thinkers. Apparently Madison and Jefferson were looking at a lot more - real life examples of nation-states that had already instituted representative democracies (well, at least for adult males) and rights of citizenship. Many of us had been aware of the "bill of rights" in Great Britain, enacted during their own "glorious revolution." But where did THOSE ideas come from? As it turns out, very little of it was new. VanDuren draws attention to the concerns of the U.S. "founding fathers" as they grappled with the shortcomings of the "articles of confederation" that governed the original 13 states. They were suffering from fatal fractiousness, and centrifugal forces were tearing the nascent country apart. Madison holed up in his library and dug more deeply in the details of the history and institutions of the Dutch Republic - on which the original U.S. was based. The Dutch Republic was also sinking into internecine conflict. What could we learn from their plight? What had they got right (that we could still build upon) and what had gone wrong (that we could hopefully improve upon)? His insights informed his draft of our constitution. As it turns out, some of the best ideas enshrined in the Dutch Republic had roots even deeper in history, reaching back to the medieval "water boards" of the "low countries" and concepts of the "public good" that had been painstakingly reconstructed, as Paris emerged from the dark ages, from the ancient Roman and Greek democratic institutions on the one hand and Germanic-Saxon traditions of participatory governance on the other. Most interesting in this compilation of lost nuggets of history are a series of historical-fiction vignettes VanDuren weaves into the book to help the reader appreciate what life was like - in 7th century Paris, 15th century Bruges and 16th century Leiden. Leiden turns out to be a critical venue - not only the host of one of the most vibrant universities in Europe (hosting Descartes, Erasmus, and publishing the books of Newton) but also the most welcoming refuge for persecuted religious minorities all over Europe and the British Isles. This is where the Pilgrims spent 12 critical years before embarking on their famous journey to Plymouth. Those experiences helped distinguish the tolerant separatist Pilgrims from the intolerant Puritans. We learn about a number of interesting characters that have been virtually ignored in American history, but may have been more influential than they have been given credit for. I had never heard of Edwin Sandys or Francis Doughty before - two colorful characters whose shenanigans helped shape American governance traditions during the earliest colonial days. And I think the "Flushing Remonstrance" has become my favorite episode in early colonial history! This book offers truly fresh and interesting new insights into the rich sources of inspiration for the great American experiment in democracy that still nourish us today.
Date published: 2014-12-16