Becoming Madison:
The Extraordinary Origins of
the Least Likely Founding Father

Kirkus Reviews called Michael Signer’s Becoming Madison “A perfect
introduction to a deeply private and immensely important man.” For
a time when America is desperately looking for leadership comes
this inspiring story of James Madison’s coming of age. Read what The Richmond
called "an essential biography of an essential founder."

About Michael Signer

Becoming Madison began with my deep concern about America’s leadership predicament and the fact that Congress seems to be broken. It also continues my lifelong interest in strengthening democracy wherever and however we can.


"In this highly readable and often insightful treatment, Signer . . . colors in the portrait, finding the essential Madison in the young man as he charts the diminutive Virginian's "evolving character and his emerging ideas." . . . He's particularly good at showing how Madison's discipline, relentless logic and faith in reason allowed him to triumph over his in-state antagonist, Patrick Henry. A perfect introduction to a deeply private and immensely important man."

− Kirkus

"Becoming Madison is superb. The history is lively and engaging. But Michael Signer’s greatest contribution is to turn a biography of Madison into a manual on leadership that is as relevant and valuable today as it was 200 years ago."

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department, 2009-2011 and President and CEO, New America Foundation

"For centuries James Madison has been overshadowed by the more striking and charismatic members of America’s founding generation. And Madison’s youth has been even less well known than his maturity. Michael Signer goes far toward filling this historical gap with an engaging, insightful account of how the unassuming young Madison became the hero of the Constitution."

H. W. Brands, University of Texas at Austin, author of Andrew Jackson, His Life and Times and The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace

"Michael Signer’s Becoming Madison offers a gripping portrait of the emergence and development of the leadership of one of our country’s great architects. We are wonderfully reminded of the power of a single person’s passion, humility, and statesmanship in shaping a nation’s destiny."

Michael Useem, Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership and Change at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

"James Madison would be called a "flip-flopper" in today's political climate. Thank God he changed his mind and concluded that adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution was not just good politics but necessary policy. This is just one of the wonderful aspects of James Madison's life that Michael Signer captures so well in this important biography. Our nation owes huge debts to Madison, and today's civic leaders owe a huge debt to Signer for reminding us why."

Tim Kaine, former Virginia Governor and current U.S. Senator

Becoming Madison:

The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father

About Michael Signer

Michael Signer - Author, Advocate, Political Theorist, and AttorneyMichael Signer is a lecturer at the University of Virginia, where he teaches in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; Managing Principal of Madison Law & Strategy Group, PLLC, where he practices corporate and regulatory law; and Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, a triple-A bond rated city of nearly 50,000 frequently rated as one of America’s best places to live. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from U.C., Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow; a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law; and a B.A. in politics, magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He previously served as counsel to Governor Mark Warner of Virginia, as chief national security advisor to the 2008 John Edwards for President campaign, and as senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress. He was a 2009 candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and USA Today. He has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC, and NPR. He lives with his wife and twin boys in Charlottesville, Virginia. For more on his public service, please visit

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