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A Community Built on WordsThe Constitution in History and Politics$
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H. Jefferson Powell

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780226677231

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226677224.001.0001

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1817: President Madison Vetoes His Own Bill

1817: President Madison Vetoes His Own Bill

XII. 1817: President Madison Vetoes His Own Bill
A Community Built on Words
University of Chicago Press

The editors of Madison's papers term the “Olmstead affair” the “first public crisis” of his presidency. Madison himself provoked the last when, on the final day of his second term, he vetoed the Bonus Bill, a favorite measure of the Republican leadership in Congress. The veto dumbfounded Madison's congressional allies, who had seen the bill's passage and (as they expected) approval by Madison as a crowning achievement of his administration. Several months later Speaker of the House Henry Clay described their feelings: “no circumstance, not even an earthquake that should swallow up one half of this city, could have excited more surprise than when it was first communicated to this House, that Mr. Madison had rejected his own bill—I say his own bill.” Madison departed public office trailing confusion in his wake.

Keywords:   Olmstead affair, President Madison, Bonus Bill, veto, Republican leadership, administration

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