FACTS AT A GLANCE
Term: 4th President of the United States (1809–1817)
Born: March 16, 1751, Port Conway, Virginia
Nickname: “Father of the Constitution”
Education: College of New Jersey (now Princeton University, graduated 1771)
Marriage: September 15, 1794, to Dolley Payne Todd (1768–1849)
Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Writings: Writings (9 vols., 1900–1910), ed. by Gaillard Hunt; The Papers of James Madison (1962–), ed. by W. T. Hutchinson, R. A. Rutland, et al.
Died: June 28, 1836, Montpelier, Orange County, Virginia
Buried: Montpelier, Virginia (family plot)
A Life in Brief: Like his close friend Thomas Jefferson, James Madison came from aprosperous family of Virginia planters, received an excellent education, and quickly found himself drawn into the debates over independence. In 1776, he became a delegate to the revolutionary Virginia Convention, where he worked closely with Thomas Jefferson to push through religious freedom statutes, among other liberal measures.
James Madison, Jr. (March 16, 1751– June 28, 1836) was anAmerican statesman and political theorist. He is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being instrumental in the drafting of the United States Constitution and as the key champion and author of the United States Bill of Rights. He was the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817). He served as a politician much of his adult life. Like other Virginia statesmen in the slave society, hewas a slaveholder and part of the élite; he inherited his plantation known as Montpelier, and owned hundreds of slaves during his lifetime to cultivate tobacco and other crops.
After the constitution had been drafted, Madison became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify it. His collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay produced the Federalist Papers (1788). Circulated only in NewYork at the time, they would later be considered among the most important polemics in support of the Constitution. He was also a delegate to the Virginia constitutional ratifying convention, and was instrumental to the successful ratification effort in Virginia. Like most of his contemporaries, Madison changed his political views during his life. During the drafting and ratification of theconstitution, he favored a strong national government, though later he grew to favor stronger state governments, before settling between the two extremes late in his life.
In 1789, Madison became a leader in the new House of Representatives, drafting many basic laws. He is notable for drafting the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and thus is known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". Madisonworked closely with President George Washington to organize the new federal government. Breaking with Hamilton and what became the Federalist party in 1791, Madison and Thomas Jefferson organized what they called the Republican Party (later called by historians the Democratic-Republican Party) in opposition to key policies of the Federalists, especially the national bank and the Jay Treaty. Heco-authored, along with Thomas Jefferson, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 to protest the Alien and Sedition Acts.
As Jefferson’s Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the nation’s size. After his election to the presidency, he presided over renewed prosperity for several years. As president (1809–17), after the failure of diplomaticprotests and a trade embargo against Great Britain, he led the nation into the War of 1812. He was responding to British encroachments on American honor and rights; in addition, he wanted to end the influence of the British among their Indian allies, whose resistance blocked United States settlement in the Midwest around the Great Lakes. Madison found the war to be an administrative nightmare, as...