James Madison: 4th President
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James Madison Biography
James Madison, our fourth president, was born on March 16.1751 in Port Conway, Virginia. Madison grew up as the oldest of twelve children, although only nine survived infancy. Six of his siblings lived into adulthood: three brothers and three sisters, all were younger. His father James Madison Sr. was a tobacco farmer and his mother was Nelly Conway Madison. Both of his parents were very influential to the President.
He was well-studied, although he did not make traditional choices. He attended Princeton, which was not the norm of that era. Madison's attendance there may have increased its popularity. His primary studies were languages, both old and new. Although he studied law as well, he never took the bar exam. He was able to graduate in two years, and later worked as a lawyer, despite never officially passing the bar. This did not seem to affect his political career.
James Madison: One of the Writers of Federalist Papers
Major Accomplishments of James Madison
He later married a widow, Dolley Payne Todd and adopted her son John Payne Todd that she had with her first husband. This was a great surprise to many, because Madison was known for his shy reticent personality. His wife compensated for his lack of charisma, because she was extremely warm and joyful. Despite Madison's shy nature, he was a very bold politician. His wife, although was well liked, was often criticized for her love of gambling, wearing make-up, and using tobacco.
Madison had a great influence on George Washington and the forming of the new Federal government. A few years prior to Washington's presidency, Madison wrote the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom. This made it so that the Church of England would not rule over the country, and people would be allowed to worship freely. Madison and Thomas Jeffersonwere good friends, and many even referred to Madison as Jefferson's protégé. He also worked as Thomas Jefferson's secretary of state, where he supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which essentially doubled the size of the United States at the time. Both Jefferson and Madison opposed the national debt and would be ashamed to hear where our current national debt is at today.
He strongly opposed a very active government, and felt that the government should have very little power over the people, which is one reason he wanted a separation of church and state. He wanted the nation to not dictate over how or who we worshiped. He was sickened by George Washington's and Alexander Hamilton's desire to establish a government similar to a European government.
Portrait of James Madison
James Madison wrote the Constitution
James Madison was not only our fourth United States President, but he was also one of our founding fathers due to his work on the Constitution. He wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, 29 total. He wrote these in order to help with the ratification of the Constitution. He also drafted the first ten amendments. He has been coined as being the "Author of the Bill of Rights," as well as the "Father of the Constitution." He fought these titles due to his belief that they were not drafted due to a single mind and was "the work of many heads and many hands."
He felt strongly about adhering to the Constitution and was very outspoken, despite his shy nature, in getting the Bill of Rights ratified. Many disagreed with the writing of the Bill of Rights; in fact Madison was hesitant despite encouragement to write them. Ultimately, he chose to write the Bill of Rights and confirmed to the masses that they were not going against the Constitution, but rather more fully supporting and explaining what was written in the Constitution. These would protect our liberties, and still do today.
March 16, 1751 - Virginia
Virginia Militia - Colonol
Age at Beginning of Presidency
58 years old
Term of Office
March 4, 1809 - March 3, 1817
How Long President
George Clinton (1809–1812) None (1812–1813) Elbridge Gerry (1813–1814) None (1814–1817)
Age and Year of Death
June 28, 1836 (aged 85)
Cause of Death
List of American Presidents
2. John Adams
5. James Monroe
10. John Tyler
11. James K. Polk
12. Zachary Taylor
13. Millard Fillmore
14. Franklin Pierce
15. James Buchanan
16. Abraham Lincoln
17. Andrew Johnson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
20. James Garfield
21. Chester A. Arthur
22. Grover Cleveland
23. Benjamin Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
25. William McKinley
28. Woodrow Wilson
30. Calvin Coolidge
31. Herbert Hoover
33. Harry S. Truman
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
35. John F. Kennedy
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
37. Richard M. Nixon
38. Gerald R. Ford
39. James Carter
40. Ronald Reagan
41. George H. W. Bush
42. William J. Clinton
43. George W. Bush
44. Barack Obama
45. Donald Trump
The Presidency of James Madison
James Madison served two terms from 1809 to 1817. His presidency started the same day as his term as Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson expired. For his first term as president, he had George Clinton as his vice-President, and the second term Eldridge Gerry held the position. Madison led the ill-prepared nation into the War of 1812, which was fought against Great Britain. The war started out very rough for Americans, but in the end Americans felt victorious despite the stalemate. Unfortunately for Madison, his reputation was already tarnished due to negative feelings regarding the feelings that are nation was under prepared as it went against Britain in the War of 1812. As a result, Madison was able to forge a very strong military.
Also during his Presidency, he created the second national bank, which he put into place in 1816. His secretary of state wanted to stop the first national bank in 1812, but Madison recognized that the government would not be able to continue to fight in the War of 1812, without the bank. At the end of his Presidency, the nation was on an upswing of good feelings, rather than the downward trend early on in his Presidency. He retired after his second term, not going on for a third term.
After his retirement from the Presidency, he and his wife had an active part in attempting to free slaves. They actually worked on freeing and moving many slaves to the West coast of South Africa. He died at the age of 85, on June 28, 1836 in Orange County in Montpelier, Virginia. He was buried in the family plot on the Madison mansion grounds. He is remembered as one of the most successful politicians, because of his ability to be on the winning side of virtually every issue throughout his entire career as a politician.
Great Book about James Madison
- One of our smallest presidents at only 5'4".
- Along with helping create the Constitution, he fought to have the first ten amendments added to it.
- His wife Dolly, often served ice cream at get togethers in the White House, which was a new treat during his time.
- He had to live in temporary quarters during part of his time in office since England had the White House set on fire. During the fire, Dolley saved the valuable portrait of George Washington that still adorns the White House walls today, when a fire broke out there.
Biography of James Madison
- Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2014). James Madison. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/jamesmadison
- Harrell, A. (2015, April 15). James Madison: The Fourth President of the United States. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://hubpages.com/hub/James-Madison-The-Fourth-President-of-the-United-States
- James Madison. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from https://www.montpelier.org/james-and-dolley-madison/james-madison
- Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “James Madison.” Accessed April 21, 2016. http://millercenter.org/president/madison.
- Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
- Writes, L. (2015, March 13). James Madison's Opinion on the Bill of Rights. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://hubpages.com/hub/James-Madisons-Opinion-on-the-Bill-of-Rights
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