My e-book, The Battle for Virginia’s Fifth District, is the story of the 2010 primary battle in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District between several tea party candidates and Robert Hurt, and then between Hurt and Democrat incumbent Tom Perriello. Hurt won in a hard fought race.
The 2010 battle was not the first time this race had been heavily contested. The very first time an election was held to select a representative for the Fifth Congressional District, voters made a choice between our fourth President, James Madison, and our fifth, James Monroe.
In the summer of 1788, Virginia became the 11th state to ratify the Constitution. Elections were called for both the Senate and House of Representatives. Governor Patrick Henry, who despised the bookish Madison, worked the State Legislature (which in those days selected the Senator) to deny Madison the Senate.
Madison, then, was forced to run for the House of Representatives. Here again, Henry set out to thwart his rival. In one of the earliest documented cases of gerrymandering, Henry persuaded the Legislature to draw the Fifth District lines so they included both Montpelier, Madison’s home, and Ashlawn, Monroe’s home.
The two friends were forced to compete against each other. During the election, the two travelled together and debated in small and large gatherings throughout the district. On Election Day, when all the votes were counted, Madison defeated Monroe by 1,300 to 900.
It was during the debates with Monroe, a supporter of the Bill of Rights, that Madison realized just how important the passage of those ten amendments was to the general population. He made a campaign promise that he would vigorously support the Bill of Rights, and that’s exactly what he did. Within six months, Madison had pushed through the Bill of Rights, and two years later, all ten amendments were ratified.
To me, the story of how Patrick Henry’s political opposition to James Madison led to a Congressional election that brought about our Bill of Rights is a delightful topic for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book.
Mark Kevin Lloyd is the former President of the Lynchburg, Virginia Tea Party and currently serves as Chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation. He is also the author of ”The Battle for Virginia’s Fifth District.” He can be reached on Twitter at @mklloydva .