But they disagreed over the proper extent of congressional power and the Supreme Court sided with Hamilton in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). The disagreement between Hamilton and Madison did not end with the national bank. In the Pacificus-Helvidius debates, Hamilton and Madison, at the urging of Thomas Jefferson, again argued over the proper meaning of the Constitution; this time over the proper extent of the president’s power in foreign affairs. Hamilton favored a unitary executive theory in which the president could act unilaterally in matters of war and international relations and Madison adopted the position that Congress should have a more prominent role in such matters. Both men grounded their arguments in the Constitution.
So with obvious disagreement among the Founding Fathers about the true meaning of the Constitution it seems odd that they are now understood as a homogenous group who stood for a single vision. But this is the danger of allowing one party to claim the Founding Fathers as their own. History gets glossed over.
If one party is left to declare themselves the heirs to the Founding Fathers, without challenge to the claim or their interpretation of the founding, they could remake the founding in their own image and for their own purposes. This ignores the reality of the founding generation.
Debate about our foundational principles is a good thing. It forces us to question who we are as a nation and what it is we want from government. It is not a settled question as to whether the left or right is correct about today’s political questions or about which side has the founding correct, but what we can know, is that an open debate about those things is certainly the correct path forward. That is at least one indisputable teaching the founders handed down to us.