Over the weekend, I read Dominion of Memories: Jefferson, Madison, and the Decline of Virginia, an excellent book. The subject matter is the economic and political decline of Virginia from 1820 to 1860. Previously, I linked to a review of this book.
One of the many themes is that you can find a quote from Jefferson (or Madison) to support about any proposition, at least as regards the balance between state and federal power - for better and for worse.
Another theme is that at least to some degree, Virginia's elite had choices, and what they chose was to cling to their own wealth and power at the expense of democracy and progress, for reasons both rational and irrational, with results that were both predicted and predictable.
I wonder how this book compares with, for example, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy.
The author Susan Dunn is cited in this article, in the Washington Post.