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The Power of Rigor: James Madison as a Persuasive Writer


Thomas C. Berg


University of St. Thomas, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN - School of Law

Julie A. Oseid


University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Joseph A. Orrino


Adjunct Professor; University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

2011

Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD, Vol. 8, p. 38, Fall 2011
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-16

Abstract:     
This article is the third in a planned series of articles about the writing qualities and habits of our most eloquent American Presidents. The focus of all the articles is on the lessons modern legal writers can learn from the Presidents. James Madison’s rigor, in both his approach to problems and in his resulting written work, was famous; it was this rigor that contributed to the persuasiveness of his writing. Even though he was not a lawyer, Madison had all the best writing habits that lawyers should emulate – attention to audience, careful preparation, and attention to consequences.

Madison’s rigor, in both his approach to problems and in his resulting written work, was famous; it was this rigor that contributed to the persuasiveness of his writing. “The great little Madison” may have lacked physical presence and personal charisma, but he overcame those limitations to become one of the most influential public figures in American history by cultivating his particular strengths. He had an analytical mind that he developed to see and clearly express arguments, counterarguments, and distinctions. He had, despite poor health, an appetite for work that he used to out-prepare others. And he had a sensitivity to surrounding circumstances that he cultivated to address his audience’s concerns and to envision the practical consequences of various actions.

The article considers why rigor is an essential writing quality, reviews Madison’s life and writing habits, and analyzes three examples of Madison’s writings (The Memorial and Remonstrance, Federalist No. 10, and a letter from Madison to Thomas Jefferson).

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: Presidents, James Madison, legal writing, rhetoric, political speeches

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Date posted: June 2, 2011 ; Last revised: August 12, 2011

Suggested Citation

Berg, Thomas C. and Oseid, Julie A. and Orrino, Joseph A., The Power of Rigor: James Madison as a Persuasive Writer (2011). Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD, Vol. 8, p. 38, Fall 2011; U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-16. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1856732

Contact Information

Thomas Charles Berg (Contact Author)
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN - School of Law ( email )
1000 La Salle Avenue
Mail # MSL400
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2015
United States

Julie A. Oseid
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )
MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States
Joseph A. Orrino
Adjunct Professor ( email )
1020 North 2nd St
Atchison, KS 66002
United States
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )
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