Do not change the name of Michigan State's James Madison College

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Over the past decade, the United State of America has become increasingly divided between two segments of our country.  Our nation has been in similar instances before, with two of the most notable being the abolition of slavery and the other being the process of drafting our Constitution.  One instance led to a civil war, resulting in the deaths of around two percent of the American population.  The other was solved through numerous compromises that moved this nation forward on the founding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

James Madison is considered the ‘father of the constitution’ due to his role in drafting the document, as well as drafting the Bill of Rights.  Madison lived in an era where slavery was an ingrained institution in the nation, and as such, it created a wedge between the north and the south.  To account for these divisions, compromises had to be made to create a document both the sides could support.

As we live in these divided times, it is imperative for us to look back at our history and see how our predecessors brought and kept this nation together.  James Madison is one of those people.  Madison was a slaveholder.  He never directly freed any of his slaves. His economic livelihood depended on them.  However, throughout his life, he sought to eliminate America’s “original sin” of slavery.  He argued that the slave trade was “dishonorable to the National character and that slaves should not be taxed as it would be “wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.”

None of us are perfect people.  James Madison, like all of us, has major flaws.  But these flaws should not erase the good Madison did for this country.  The figures of the past should be viewed in the context of their times and commend the good that they did, while acknowledging their flaws as ways that we can improve upon ourselves.