James Madison, like Alexander Hamilton, is one of those founding fathers who is overlooked by more popular revolutionary figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Yet Madison deserves much of the intellectual credit behind the vision of the United States as a country open to people of all backgrounds. He is also an important figure because he served as an exemplary friend for one of America’s first converts to Islam.
In looking more closely at Madison’s personal life, we find an interesting relationship with George Bethune English. English was an American diplomat, Harvard alum, soldier, and one of the first American converts to Islam. Born and raised in Cambridge (Boston), English encountered doubts about his Christian upbringing and published “The Grounds of Christianity Examined”, which was motivated by his curiosity in the validity of the New Testament.
In 1815, Madison appointed English to the United…
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