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Women's Voices Magazine - Washington Watch - June 2014

posted Jun 10, 2014, 9:20 AM by Ann Sullivan   [ updated Jun 10, 2014, 9:22 AM ]
Celebrating (Founding) Father’s Day
By John Stanford

This contribution was authored by Madison Services Group team member John Stanford, whose arcane knowledge of our early Presidents never served him well…until now. Ann Sullivan will return for her monthly column in July.

Right after I give out my business card, I can often predict the first question – “Why Madison Services Group?” Is your boss from Wisconsin (no, Ohio) or is it because you’re across from the Madison hotel (odd coincidence, but no)? The answer is Dolly Madison – who risked life and limb during the War of 1812 to save priceless art when the British set fire to the White House. Her route out of Washington, now known as Dolly Madison Highway, runs right past our founder and president’s home. When Ann launched Madison Services Group, it was to bring women business owners into Washington, along that metaphorical highway.

Dolly Madison, along with her heroics, is famous as First Lady, married to President and Founding Father James Madison. And even though Father’s Day is about celebrating our own fathers (Happy Father’s Day, Dad!), I wanted to do a little celebrating of President Madison. Many historians (and Jeopardy clues) focus on the first three—Presidents Washington, Adams, and Jefferson—but our firm has a special attachment to their successor who, in our view, doesn’t get his fair share of gratitude.

James Madison, America’s 4th President, is certainly deserving of our thanks. Hailed as the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison was a champion for individual rights (he wrote the Bill of Rights) and the importance of minority views. He oversaw the Louisiana Purchase and founded, along with fellow President Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic-Republican Party, a distant cousin to both of today’s major parties. 

It’s a strange feeling to reflect on one person writing the Bill of Rights, or playing such a critical role in building a government that we take for granted today. There is no question nearly all of our Founding Fathers succumbed to the prejudice of their time: many owned slaves and all deferred women and minority rights for another two centuries. Yet, the freedoms they enshrined in law for themselves that were eventually expanded to all are the cornerstones of modern democracy. As women build their role in leading that democracy, I am in awe of the Founding Fathers prescience in constructing such a novel—and successful—government.

Today, Mr. Madison—as he was known—is remembered by the Virginia university named in his honor, which only furthers our company’s ties to the Madison family. Ann sits on their Integrated Science and Technology Executive Advisory Council, regularly contributing to how the school can expand access to STEM education for female students (and it just so happens her daughter went there).

So yes, the legacy of both the Madisons live on – through highways, schools, and even our firm. But, as we celebrate our fathers this month, let’s be sure to save a few ugly ties for our Founding Fathers, like James Madison, without whom, our country would look very different.

Note: This article originally appeared in the June issue of Women's Voices Magazine.