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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (68 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chris DeRose Narrator: Adam Verner Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In 1789, James Madison and James Monroe ran against each other for Congress—the only time that two future presidents have contested a congressional seat.

But what was at stake, as author Chris DeRose reveals in Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation, was more than personal ambition. This was a race that determined the future of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the very definition of the United States of America.

Friends and political allies for most of their lives, Madison was the Constitution’s principal author, Monroe one of its leading opponents. Monroe thought the Constitution gave the federal government too much power and failed to guarantee fundamental rights. Madison believed that without the Constitution, the United States would not survive.

It was the most important congressional race in American history, more important than all but a few presidential elections, and yet it is one that historians have virtually ignored. In Founding Rivals, DeRose, himself a political strategist who has fought campaigns in Madison and Monroe’s district, relives the campaign, retraces the candidates’ footsteps, and offers the first insightful, comprehensive history of this high-stakes political battle.

DeRose reveals:


  • How Madison’s election ensured the passage of a Bill of Rights—and how
    Monroe’s election would have ensured its failure
  • How Madison came from behind to win a narrow victory (by a margin of only 336 votes) in a district gerrymandered against him
  • How the Bill of Rights emerged as a campaign promise to Virginia’s evangelical Christians
  • Why Madison’s defeat might have led to a new Constitutional Convention—and the breakup of the United States


Founding Rivals tells the extraordinary, neglected story of two of America’s most important Founding Fathers. Brought to life by unparalleled research, it is one of the most provocative books of American political history you will read this year.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An engaging account of the Republic’s contentious founding.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Compelling narrative throughout…A lively, clear-cut study of the myriad hurdles and uncertainty that characterized the first attempts to form the US government.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Long before they fought the War of 1812 and planted the seeds of Manifest Destiny, James Madison and James Monroe fought each other over a seat in the First Congress. Their epic campaign—revolving around the size and scope of government, its taxing power, and a nation awash in debt—is America in microcosm.

    Richard Norton Smith, author of Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Margaret Mischner | 10/2/2013

    " Since grammar school, I've eagerly read books on the Founding Fathers. But, I never focused on Madison or Monroe. This book provided me with a vital piece of how our country was founded. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Matt | 8/3/2013

    " A good, comprehensive history of the U.S. from the 1750s to 1790s including the Revolutionary war, Articles of Confederation, Constitution and Bill of Rights. I would recommend this book to history buffs and people interested in the principles behind the construction of the U.S. government. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jeff Tate | 7/8/2013

    " An excellent summary of why Madison is the Father of the Constitution. Only a few chapters on the actually election the book is supposed to be about. Still a good, quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tom Colacioppo | 6/15/2013

    " Never realized how important James Madison was. On a side note 3 of the first 5 presidents died on July 4th. J. Adams, T. Jefferson and J. Monroe "

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About the Author
Author Chris DeRose

Chris DeRose is an attorney and also serves as a political strategist for candidates for state and federal office. He has been involved in campaigns at every level in five different states. A graduate of Pepperdine University Law School, DeRose serves locally on a number of boards and commissions. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.