James Madison (March 16, 1751 - June 28, 1836) was the fourth (1809
- 1817) President of the United States. He was co-author, with John Jay
and Alexander Hamilton, of the Federalist Papers, and is viewed by some
as the "Father of the United States Constitution."
George Clinton (1809 - 1812)
Elbridge Gerry (1813 - 1814)
Father of the Constitution
Born in 1751, Madison was brought up in Orange County, Virginia, and
attended Princeton (then called the College of New Jersey). A student of
history and government, well-read in law, he participated in the framing
of the Virginia Constitution in 1776, served in the Continental Congress,
and was a leader in the Virginia Assembly.
When delegates to the Constitutional Convention assembled at Philadelphia,
the 36-year-old Madison took frequent and emphatic part in the debates.
Madison made a major contribution to the ratification of the Constitution
by writing, with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, the Federalist essays.
In later years, when he was referred to as the "Father of the Constitution,"
Madison protested that the document was not "the off-spring of a single
brain," but "the work of many heads and many hands."
In Congress, he helped frame the Bill of Rights and enact the first
revenue legislation. Out of his leadership in opposition to Hamilton's
financial proposals, which he felt would unduly bestow wealth and power
upon northern financiers, came the development of the Republican, or Jeffersonian,
As President Jefferson's Secretary of State, Madison protested to warring
France and Britain that their seizure of American ships was contrary to
international law. The protests, John Randolph acidly commented, had the
effect of "a shilling pamphlet hurled against eight hundred ships of war."
Despite the unpopular Embargo Act of 1807, which did not make the belligerent
nations change their ways but did cause a depression in the United States,
Madison was elected President in 1808. Before he took office the Embargo
Act was repealed.
At his inauguration, James Madison, a small, wizened man, appeared old
and worn; Washington Irving described him as "but a withered little apple-John."
But whatever his deficiencies in charm, Madison's buxom wife Dolley compensated
for them with her warmth and gaiety. She was the toast of Washington.
During the first year of Madison's Administration, the United States
prohibited trade with both Britain and France; then in May, 1810, Congress
authorized trade with both, directing the President, if either would accept
America's view of neutral rights, to forbid trade with the other nation.
Napoleon pretended to comply. Late in 1810, Madison proclaimed non-intercourse
with Great Britain. In Congress a young group including Henry Clay and
John C. Calhoun, the "War Hawks," pressed the President for a more militant
The British impressment of American seamen and the seizure of cargoes
impelled Madison to give in to the pressure. On June 1, 1812, he asked
Congress to declare war.
The young Nation was not prepared to fight; its forces took a severe
trouncing. The British entered Washington and set fire to the White House
and the Capitol.
But a few notable naval and military victories, climaxed by Gen. Andrew
Jackson's triumph at New Orleans, convinced Americans that the War of 1812
had been gloriously successful. An upsurge of nationalism resulted. The
New England Federalists who had opposed the war--and who had even talked
secession--were so thoroughly repudiated that Federalism disappeared as
a national party.
In retirement at Montpelier, his estate in Orange County, Virginia,
Madison spoke out against the disruptive states' rights influences that
by the 1830's threatened to shatter the Federal Union. In a note opened
after his death in 1836, he stated, "The advice nearest to my heart and
deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished
Places named for James Madison
Madison, Wisconsin , the state capital
Madison County, Alabama
Madison County, Arkansas
Madison County, Florida
Madison County, Georgia
Madison County, Idaho
Madison County, Illinois
Madison County, Indiana
Madison County, Iowa
Madison County, Kentucky
Madison County, Mississippi
Madison County, Missouri
Madison County, Montana
Madison County, Nebraska
Madison County, New York
Madison County, North Carolina
Madison County, Ohio
Madison County, Tennessee
Madison County, Texas
Madison County, Virginia
Madison Parish, Louisiana
Madison Township, North Carolina
Mount Madison , one of a number of mountains named for Presidents in the
White Mountains of New Hampshire
James Madison University in Virginia
James Madison College an Honors Political Science department within Michigan
The James Madison Memorial Building of the United States Library of Congress
Madison Square in New York City
Madison Square in Savannah, Georgia
Many streets and avenues in United States cities (such as Madison Street
in New York City and another in Chicago, Illinois )