Monday, February 02, 2009

Feb. 2 should be remembered for something besides a groundhog and his shadow

Today is known only as Groundhog Day, made famous by an animal and its shadow, but should also be remembered as the anniversary of a little-noticed event that was pivotal in the shaping of America.

"On Feb. 2, 1789, James Madison [right] was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from an eight-county district in central Virginia that Patrick Henry had designed to keep Madison out of the First Congress," writes Richard Labunski, a journalism professor at the University of Kentucky. "If Madison had lost, the Bill of Rights would not have been added to the Constitution then, or perhaps ever, and the nation’s history would have been very different." (Image from University of Connecticut)

Labunski is author of James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights, published by Oxford University Press and part of its “Pivotal Moments in American History” series, and is now in paperback. The book tells the fascinating story of how the shy and sickly Madison overcame one obstacle after another to see the Bill of Rights become part of the Constitution.

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