About the discussion
James Madison was taught early on about the importance of the study of history. He took the lesson to heart. During the years of his formal education and throughout the years that followed leading up to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he was a voracious reader, who spent countless hours absorbing what he read, thinking about it, and eventually synthesizing what he had studied. In the process he drew conclusions about why previous attempts at free government had failed and formulated his own ideas as to how the mistakes of the past could be avoided by a new system of government that, to paraphrase him, would have enough power to control the government but at the same time be obliged to control itself.