A new episode of the Madison presidency series is now available!
April 10, 2022

4.05 – In the Arena

4.05 – In the Arena

Year(s) Discussed: 1808-1809

A new congressional session provided an opportunity for the President and his wife to make their mark on the Washington political and social scene as they invited guests into the refurbished President’s House. Meanwhile, General James Wilkinson continued with his intrigues down in New Orleans, but rather than establishing a pseudo-dictatorship again, his affairs were more of a personal nature. Over in Europe, Austria rose up once more against the French Empire, and Napoleon had to scramble to avoid defeat.


Special thanks to Stephen from the History of Tammany Hall podcast for providing the intro quote for this episode and to Christian at Your Podcast Pal for his audio editing work on this episode!

The transcript for this episode can be found at this link.

  • “An Act to alter the time for the next meeting of Congress.” Annals of Congress, 10th Congress, 2nd Session. 1808. https://memory.loc.gov/ll/llac/019/0900/09001807.tif. [Last Accessed: 4 Mar 2022]
  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1956.
  • “Campbell, George Washington, 1769-1848.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. https://bioguide.congress.gov/search/bio/C000083. [Last Accessed: 4 Mar 2022]
  • Crackel, Theodore J. Jefferson’s Army: Political and Social Reform of the Military Establishment, 1801-1809. New York and London: New York University Press, 1987.
  • Esdaile, Charles. Napoleon’s Wars: An International History. New York: Penguin, 2009 [2007].
  • Ketcham, Ralph. James Madison: A Biography. Charlottesville, VA and London: University Press of Virginia, 1994 [1971].
  • Landry, Jerry. The Presidencies of the United States. 2017-2022. http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
  • Linklater, Andro. An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson. New York: Walker Publishing Co, 2009.
  • Madison, James. “23 May 1809, Special Session Message.” Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/205167. [Last Accessed: 4 Mar 2022]
  • “Monday, May 22, 1809.” Annals of Congress, 11th Congress, First Session. 53-56. https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=020/llac020.db&recNum=23. [Last Accessed: 4 Mar 2022]
  • Orsi, Jared. Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Schom, Alan. Napoleon Bonaparte. New York: HarperCollins, 1998 [1997].
  • Seale, William. The President’s House: A History, Volume One. Washington, DC: White House Historical Association, 1986.
  • Taylor, Elizabeth Dowling. A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.
  • Wilkinson, James. “To James Madison, 1 May 1809,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/03-01-02-0178. [Original source: The Papers of James Madison, Presidential Series, vol. 1, 1 March–30 September 1809, ed. Robert A. Rutland, Thomas A. Mason, Robert J. Brugger, Susannah H. Jones, Jeanne K. Sisson, and Fredrika J. Teute. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1984, pp. 155–156.] [Last Accessed: 18 Feb 2022]

Featured Images:

  • “Portrait of Dolley Madison, First Lady of the United States” [c. 19th century], courtesy of Wikipedia
  • “George Canning” [pre-1827], courtesy of Wikipedia
  • "Portrait of Salvador del Muro y Salazar, the 2nd Marquis of Someruelos" by Juan del Rio [c. 1803], courtesy of Wikipedia
  • "Portrait du pape Pie VII" by Jacques-Louis David [c. 1805], courtesy of Wikipedia

Intro and Outro Music: Selections from “Jefferson and Liberty” as performed by The Itinerant Band