Irving Newton Brant

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Irving Newton Brant (17 January 1885–18 September 1976), biographer, journalist, and historian, was born in Walker, Iowa, the son of David Brant, the editor of the local newspaper, and Ruth Hurd Brant. He followed his father into journalism. After attending local schools he earned a BA in 1909 at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. was a reporter and editorial writer for the St. Louis Star-Times from 1918 to 1923, and 1930 to 1938. In the interval he tried writing poetry, short stories, plays, and children's novels. He had much more success as an independent historian, and he is best known for his six-volume scholarly biography of James Madison. His vigorous defense of the constitutionality of the New Deal, which was challenged by repeated Supreme Court decisions, appeared as Storm over the Constitution (1936). It encouraged Roosevelt to send Congress a surprise plan in early 1937 to enlarge the membership, so as to overcome the conservative majority. The so-called court packing plan failed after a bitter fight.

Brant wrote about conservation of natural resources for magazines and in 1930 was a founder of the Emergency Conservation Committee. Brant advised President Franklin Roosevelt and Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, on conservation issues, such as the protection of migratory ducks against the demands of farmers.[1] The boundaries of Olympic National Park were consequent to his survey work in the late 1930s.

Brant's study of the Supreme Court led him to James Madison, who was largely ignored at the time. Brant decided to prove that Madison was the equal of Jefferson in creating the new nation because of his leading role in writing the Constitution and its first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Brant's scholarly biography of Madison gathered more and more attention as its six volumes appeared 1941 to 1961. It continues into the 21st century as the standard biography. The author had three goals: to rehabilitate Madison's reputation as a theorist of constitutional issues; to demonstrate Madison's mastery of practical politics; and to refute the states rights interpretation, which denied that the founding fathers considered the new country to be a single nation rather than a loose confederation of sovereign independent countries.[2]

Bibliography of his writings on Madison[edit]

  • James Madison: The Virginia Revolutionist. Vol. 1. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1941).
  • James Madison the Nationalist 1780-1787. Vol. 2. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1948). online
  • James Madison Father of the Constitution 1787-1800. Vol. 3. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1950).
  • "Madison: On the Separation of Church and State." William and Mary Quarterly (1951): 4-24. Online
  • "James Madison and His Times." American Historical Review 57.4 (1952): 853-870. online
  • James Madison: Secretary of State, 1800-1809. Vol. 4. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1953).
  • "The Madison Heritage." New York University Law Review 35 (1960): 882+.
  • James Madison; the President, 1809-1812. Vol. 5. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1956.)
  • James Madison: Commander in Chief, 1812-1836. Vol. 6. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1961). online
  • '"Madison and the War of 1812." The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 74.1 (1966): 51-67.
  • The Fourth President: A life of James Madison. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1970), abridged edition of his six volume biography
  • "Adventures in Conservation Putting It Up to FDR." Journal of Forest History 32.1 (1988): 32-41.
  • Adventures in conservation with Franklin D. Roosevelt (1989) online


  1. ^ Irving Brant, "Adventures in Conservation Putting It Up to FDR." Journal of Forest History 32.1 (1988): 32-41.
  2. ^ Leonard W. Levy, Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (1986) 1:146.


  • Keene, Ann T. "Brant, Irving Newton (17 January 1885–18 September 1976)" American National Biography (1999) online
  • Leibiger, ed. (2012). A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 68–70. ISBN 9781118281437.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link) on Brant's interpretation of Madison's radical shift 1787-1792