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Co-author of the Federalist Papers, Madison was Jefferson's Secretary of State. The event that dominated his presidency was the War of 1812, which Congress declared at his request. Elected 1808 1812
The Early Years
Madison was born at the home of his maternal grandparents at Port Conway, Virginia. His father was the owner of a sizable estate. Madison was tutored privately until he entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), where he studied theology. After completing college in 1774 , Madison studied law. He was, however, never admitted to the bar.
In 1776 and 1777 Madison served as a delegate to the Virginia Convention. In 1778 and 1779 he served as a Member of the Council of the State of Virginia.
In 1780, at 29, he became the youngest member of the Continental Congress, where he served until 1783. From 1784-86 he served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
In 1787 he became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, during which the US Constitution was written. Madison earned himself a reputation as the father of the Constitution. This was due to the key roll he played in convincing the delegates of the virtue of a strong central government. In addition, he made copious notes of all that took place during the convention. The convention was closed to the press, thus Madison's jottings became the notes of record of all the deliberations that took place.
From 1789-1797, Madison was a Virginian Representative to the House. There, his most notable achievement was the introduction of the Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution).
Madison was a strong supporter of the Jeffersonian view of a strict interpretation of the Constitution and argued vehemently against Hamilton's view of implied powers for the President. From 1801 to 1809, Madison served as Secretary of State to Jefferson. He was a strong supporter of both the Louisiana Purchase and the Embargo Act.
Accomplishments in Office
The war in Europe dominated James Madison's Presidency. The previous policy of the Embargo Act had failed, and Madison repealed it with the Non-Intercourse Act, which allowed trade with any country except the belligerents. When this became unenforceable, the Macon Bill, stating that the United could trade with any country agreeing to respect US neutrality, replaced it. Napoleon agreed to this stipulation, the British refused, so the United States began trading with France but not with Great Britain. This led to increased tension with the British, manifested both in the continued impressment of American sailors by the British and an increasingly hostile Indian population in the Northwest supposedly incited by the British.
On June 1, 1812, Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war against the British. The United States was ill-prepared for a war. Although many of the best British troops were busy in Europe, the US army suffered several initial defeats. After the city of Washington was burned by the British, the war was brought to a standstill. Under the new command of Andrew Jackson, the United States army won a stunning victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans, bringing the war to a close. Victory in that battle and a fair peace treaty helped revive Madison's popularity.
The First Family
Father... James Madison, Sr.
Mother... Eleanor Rose Conway
Wife... Dolly Payne Todd
War of 1812
Treaty of Ghent
Second Bank of the United States
Era of Good Feeling
Secretaries of State: Robert Smith, James Monroe
Secretaries of Treasury: Albert Gallatin, George Campell, Alexander Dallas, William Crawford
Secretaries of War: William Eustis, John Armstrong, James Monroe
Attorney Generals: Caesar Rodney, William Pinkney, Richard Rush
Secretary of the Navy: Paul Hamilton William Jones
Did You Know?
First president to have been a Congressman
First President to regularly wear pants instead of knee breeches.
Only administration to have two Vice Presidents die.
James Madison, America’s fourth President (1809-1817), made a major contribution to the ratification of the Constitution by writing The Federalist Papers, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. In later years, he was referred to as the “Father of the Constitution.”
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 … wife Dolley compensated for them with her warmth and gaiety. She was the toast of Washington.
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, Party.
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.
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 policy.
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 and perpetuated.”
- View A Guide to the War of 1812 to access digital materials related to the War of 1812, including manuscripts, broadsides, pictures, and government documents. links to the text of the treaty and related digital collections.
- Search across the collections of Photos & Prints on War of 1812 to find images of some of the battles of this conflict. For example, a drawing by George Munger, circa 1814, depicts the U.S. Capitol after its burning by the British.
- Search on war in the James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859 to see letters and other documents related to the War of 1812.
- Search the Andrew Jackson Papers to find manuscripts from Jackson’s service in the War of 1812. Highlights include Jackson’s account of the Battle of New Orleans and a letter from President James Monroe congratulating Jackson on his victory at the Battle of New Orleans.
- Search A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875, to find congressional material related to the War of 1812, including debates, laws, journals, documents, and reports. and Volume 16 of the series Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society can be found in the digital collection Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820 to 1910. These two volumes contain correspondence between British officers regarding strategy, Native American affairs, and treaties during the war. These volumes also include some diplomatic correspondence between the British and the Americans.
Father of the Constitution
In 1787, Madison represented Virginia at the Constitution Convention. He was a federalist at heart, thus campaigned for a strong central government. In the Virginia Plan, he expressed his ideas about forming a three-part federal government, consisting of executive, legislative and judicial branches. He thought it was important for this new structure to have a system of checks and balances, in order to prevent the abuse of power by any one group.
While many of Madison&aposs ideas were included in the Constitution, the document itself faced some opposition in his native Virginia and other colonies. He then joined Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in a special effort to get the Constitution ratified, and the three men wrote a series of persuasive letters that were published in New York newspapers, collectively known as The Federalist papers. Back in Virginia, Madison managed to outmaneuver such Constitution opponents as Patrick Henry to secure the document&aposs ratification.
List of presidents of the United States
The president of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States, indirectly elected to a four-year term by the American people through the Electoral College. The officeholder leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
Since the office was established in 1789, 45 people have served in 46 presidencies. The first president, George Washington, won a unanimous vote of the Electoral College one, Grover Cleveland, served two non-consecutive terms and is therefore counted as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States (giving rise to the discrepancy between the number of presidents and the number of persons who have served as president).
The presidency of William Henry Harrison, who died 31 days after taking office in 1841, was the shortest in American history. Franklin D. Roosevelt served the longest, over twelve years, before dying early in his fourth term in 1945. He is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms. Since the ratification of the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1951, no person may be elected president more than twice, and no one who has served more than two years of a term to which someone else was elected may be elected more than once. 
Four presidents died in office of natural causes (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt), four were assassinated (Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy), and one resigned (Richard Nixon, facing impeachment). John Tyler was the first vice president to assume the presidency during a presidential term, and set the precedent that a vice president who does so becomes the fully functioning president with his presidency, as opposed to a caretaker president. The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution put Tyler's precedent into law in 1967. It also established a mechanism by which an intra-term vacancy in the vice presidency could be filled. Richard Nixon was the first president to fill a vacancy under this provision when he selected Gerald Ford for the office following Spiro Agnew's resignation in 1973. The following year, Ford became the second to do so when he chose Nelson Rockefeller to succeed him after he acceded to the presidency. As no mechanism existed for filling an intra-term vacancy in the vice presidency before 1967, the office was left vacant until filled through the next ensuing presidential election and subsequent inauguration.
March 4, 1809: James Madison swore into office by Chief Justice John Marshall. Within his inaugural address, he said he would not tolerate foreign interference.
April 19, 1809: Madison legalizes trade with Great Britain and then repeals the legalization. This was due to the British ambassador suggesting that some restrictions were lifted on American ships when they were not.
May 1, 1810: The Non-Intercourse Act is replaced with Macon&rsquos Bill No. 2 which allows Madison to reopen trade with Great Britain and France.
August 5, 1810: Madison reopens trade with France after Napoleon learns of Macon&rsquos Bill No. 2.
October 27, 1810: The United States annex West Florida when Madison proclaims West Florida territory and authorizes its military occupation.
November 1810: Madison prohibits trade with Great Britain which ends any hope for peace negotiations with them.
February 20, 1811: Congress allows the First Bank of the United States to expire. The bank was put in place during the Washington administration under the guidance of Alexander Hamilton. The bank was considered unconstitutional by the Democratic-Republicans.
April 6, 1811: Madison appoints James Monroe as his Secretary of State and sends him to Britain to try and negotiate an ending to the restrictions placed on American shipping.
May 16, 1811: The British and American navies have a confrontation just outside of New York Harbor. It results in nine deaths and twenty-three wounded British mariners.
September 19, 1811: The United States learn that Napoleon never issued a decree loosening restrictions on American vessels.
November 4, 1811: Congressional elections are held and a younger generation is put into power. These leaders would become known as War Hawks as they wanted to go to war with Great Britain. The leaders of this movement were Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun.
November 7-8, 1811: Shawnee Warriors attack American troops under General William Henry Harrison which led to the Battle of Tippecanoe. Harrison would gain a legendary victory that would eventually propel him to the presidency in 1841.
April 1, 1812: Congress passes another Embargo against Britain.
April 20, 1812: Vice President George Clinton dies.
April 30, 1812: Louisiana is admitted as the 18th state of the union.
June 1, 1812: Madison begins to push for Congress to declare war on Great Britain. He sends congress an argument that consisted of four reasons: British Impressment, violation of American neutrality, blockade of American ports, and Britain&rsquos refusal to repeal the Orders of Council.
June 4, 1812: The House of Representatives voted in favor of war and the vote moves to the Senate.
June 16, 1812: Britain revokes the Orders in Council, but the news does not reach America in time before war was declared. The repeal lifts trade restrictions with Great Britain.
June 18, 1812: The Senate votes 19-13 in favor of war.
June 19, 1812: James Madison declares war on Great Britain.
June 30, 1812: Congress issues interest-bearing treasury notes. This would become the first circulating currency.
July 1, 1812: General William Hull&rsquos personal baggage is captured and within it is the plan to attack Upper Canada. The British learn of the plans and begin preparation for defense.
July 12, 1812: General Hull and 2,200 men cross the Detroit River and occupy Sandwich.
July 17, 1812: The British capture an American post on Michilimackinac Island. Shawnee leader Tecumseh allies with the British.
August 8, 1812: Hull and his men retreat to Detroit out of concern that Tecumseh will cut off their lines of communication.
August 15, 1812: Native Americans kill eighty-six adults and twelve children at the garrison at Fort Dearborn. It became known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre.
August 16, 1812: Fearing another massacre, General Hull surrenders Detroit to the British. This gives the British control of the Lake Erie region. Hull will later be court-martialed for cowardice.
August 19, 1812: Admiral Isaac Hull commands the USS Constitution to victory against the British Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia.
September 17, 1812: William Henry Harrison is made a brigadier general and given orders to recapture Detroit. 10,000 men are placed under his command.
October 13 &ndash November 28, 1812: The Niagara Campaign fails when New York militia refuses to support the American army which leads to the crushing defeat by the British.
October 17, 1812: The Wasp under the command of American Captain Jacob Jones defeats the British Frolic 600 miles off the Virginia Coast.
October 25, 1812: The United States under the command of Stephen Decatur captures the British frigate Macedonian off the coast of Madeira Islands.
November 5, 1812: President Madison vetoes naturalization bill due &ldquoto abuse by aliens having no real purpose of effectuating naturalization.&rdquo
December 2, 1812: James Madison is reelected as President.
December 29, 1812: The Constitution destroys British frigate Java off the coast of Brazil.
January 13, 1813: Madison replaces William Eustis with John Armstrong as Secretary of War.
January 22, 1813: The Americans are defeated by the British at the Battle of Frenchtown.
List of presidents of the United States who owned slaves
This is a list of presidents of the United States who owned slaves. Slavery was legal in the United States from its beginning as a nation, having been practiced in North America from early colonial days. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution formally abolished slavery in 1865, immediately after the end of the American Civil War.
In total, twelve U.S. presidents owned slaves at some point in their lives of these, eight owned slaves while in office. Ten of the first twelve American Presidents were slave owners, with the only exceptions being John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, who both did not approve of slavery. George Washington was the first president who owned slaves, including while he was president. Zachary Taylor was the last who owned slaves during his presidency, and Ulysses S. Grant was the last president to have owned a slave at some point in his life. Of those presidents who were slaveholders, Thomas Jefferson owned the most, with 600+ slaves, followed closely by George Washington.
Woodrow Wilson was the last president born into a household with slave labor, though the Civil War concluded during his childhood. 
President James Madison for Kids: "Father of the Bill of Rights"
Summary: James Madison (1751-1836), nicknamed the "Father of the Bill of Rights" , was the 4th American President and served in office from 1809-1817. The Presidency of James Madison spanned the period in United States history that encompasses the events of the Evolution Era. President James Madison represented the Democratic-Republican political party which influenced the domestic and foreign policies of his presidency.
The major accomplishments and the famous, main events that occurred during the time that James Madison was president included the War of 1812, Washington DC was burned (1814) and the Second Barbary War (1815). During his presidency the Cumberland Road was constructed and Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner poem after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. James Madison died of natural causes on June 28, 1836, aged 85. The next president was James Monroe.
Life of James Madison for kids - James Madison Fact File
The summary and fact file of James Madison provides bitesize facts about his life.
The Nickname of James Madison: Father of the Bill of Rights
The nickname of President James Madison provides an insight into how the man was viewed by the American public during his presidency. The meaning of the nickname Father of the Bill of Rights refers to his role in creating the Constitution and as the main auth of the amendments to the Constitution formed the basis of the Bill of Rights. James Madison also had the nicknames of Jemmie or Little Johnny in reference to his small stature
Character and Personality Type of James Madison
The character traits of President James Madison can be described as shy, intelligent, meticulous, ponderous and firm. It has been speculated that the Myers-Briggs personality type for James Madison is an INTP (introversion, intuition, thinking, perceiving). A modest, reserved, stoic character with a preference to work informally with others as equals. James Madison Personality type: Quiet, analytical, impatient and thoughtful.
Accomplishments of James Madison and the Famous Events during his Presidency
The accomplishments of James Madison and the most famous events during his presidency are provided in an interesting, short summary format detailed below.
James Madison for kids - The War of 1812 and the Treaty of Ghent
Summary of the War of 1812: The War of 1812 (1812-1814) , often referred to as the Second War of Independence, was fought between the United States and Great Britain. The war lasted for 2 years and 8 months and resulted in a stalemate, but it was a turning point for the US who achieved credibility across the world as a powerful new nation. The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812 and was signed on December 24, 1814.
James Madison for kids - The Star Spangled Banner
Summary of the Star Spangled Banner : There was a surge of American Patriotism during the War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner was written on September 14, 1814 by Francis Scott Lee following the US victory at the Battle of Baltimore and the Defence of Fort Henry. The lyrics were written following the US victory at the Battle of Baltimore, in the War of 1812 .
James Madison for kids - Second Bank of the United States
Summary of the Second Bank of the United States: The Second Bank of the United States was granted a charter in 1816 to manage the massive war debt amounted during the War of 1812.
James Madison for kids - The Hartford Convention
Summary of the Hartford Convention: The Hartford Convention was a secret meeting of Federalists in Hartford, Connecticut to express grievances against the administration of President James Madison. The secret convention discredited the Federalist party a s the outcome of the War of 1812 was rejoiced by the nation and the Republican party of James Madison gained in popularity with the voters.
James Madison for kids - The Second Barbary War
Summary of the Second Barbary War: The Second Barbary War of 1815 (aka the Algerine War) ended in victory for the Americans against the African Pirates of the Barbary States that consisted of Morocco, Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers.
James Madison for kids - The Protective Tariff of 1816
Summary of the Protective Tariff of 1816: The Protective Tariff of 1816 was passed in an attempt to persuade Americans to buy home produced goods by placing a 20-25 % tax on all foreign goods. T he tariff was important as it helped American businesses compete with British and European factories.
James Madison for kids - History of the Turnpikes and Toll Roads
Summary of the History of the Turnpikes : The process of building roads was very expensive and led to the widespread introduction of Toll Roads, that were called Turnpikes, across the new nation.
President James Madison Video for Kids
The article on the accomplishments of James Madison provides an overview and summary of some of the most important events during his presidency. The following James Madison video will give you additional important history, facts and dates about the foreign and domestic political events of the James Madison administration.
Accomplishments of President James Madison
James Madison - US History - Facts - James Madison Biography - Important Events - James Madison Accomplishments - President James Madison - Summary of Presidency - American History - US - USA History - James Madison - America - Dates - United States History - US History for Kids - Children - Schools - Homework - Important Events - Facts - History - United States History - Important Facts - Events - History - Interesting - President James Madison - Info - Information - American History - James Madison Facts - Historical Events - Important Events - James Madison
War of 1812: Mr. Madison's War
When Madison started his second administration, the British were still forcibly attacking American ships, seizing their cargo, and impressing their sailors. Madison asked Congress to declare war: but support for it was far from unanimous. The war, sometimes called the Second War for Independence (because it resulted in the end of U.S. economic dependence on Britain), pitted a barely prepared U.S. against the well-trained force that was Great Britain.
On June 18, 1812, Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain, after Congress, for the first time in American history, voted to declare war against another nation.
America's first battle was a disaster called the Surrender of Detroit: The British, led by Major General Isaac Brock, and allies from Indigenous communities, led by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, attacked the port city of Detroit on August 15–16, 1812. U.S. Brigadier General William Hull surrendered the town and fort, despite having a larger army. America fared better on the seas, and eventually retook Detroit. The British marched on Washington in 1814, and on August 23 they attacked and burned the White House. Dolley Madison famously stayed in the White House until she ensured that many national treasures were saved.
The New England Federalists met at the Hartford Convention in late 1814 to discuss pulling out of the war, and there was even talk of secession at the convention. But, on December 24, 1814, the U.S. and Great Britain agreed to the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the fighting but resolved none of the pre-war issues.
President James Madison - History
The United States Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights are two of the most important documents in American history. They are also two of the most important contributions of the fourth president of the United States, James Madison.
The contributions of James Madison have carved such a significant impact on the lives of Americans that it lasted and persisted through the years, from his time as a politician up to the present. A quick review of the life and contributions of the “Father of the Constitution” would not be enough to encapsulate this impact, but it is still essential in understanding a big part of history.
James Madison’s Early Life
James “Jemmy” Madison, Jr. was the son of James Madison, Sr., a tobacco planter, and Nelly Conway Madison, a daughter of a tobacco merchant. Not surprisingly, Jemmy, eldest of twelve siblings, was born in the Belle Grove Plantation, located Port Conway, Virginia, on March 16, 1751.
Young Jemmy became a student of the Scottish teacher Donald Robertson, who, at that time, was teaching in Virginia. Robertson gave his student a foundation on geography, mathematics, and the languages, and so the young Madison credited him as the reason for his love of learning.
When Madison was 16, his studies shifted to a two-year tutorial under Reverend Thomas Martin, as a preparatory course before the young man would go to college. By the time that Madison was to choose where to attend college, he had notably fragile health. Thus, he picked a school located at an area of good climate, and this school was the College of New Jersey – or, as we know it now, Princeton University.
In spite of his health condition, Jemmy Madison graduated from Princeton in 1771, and even stayed there to learn Hebrew and political philosophy. He also studied law, but instead of using it for a career, he focused on public policy.
Not long after, when he had already become a member of the Congress, he met Dolly Payne Todd, a widowed woman who had a son, John Payne Todd. James and Dolly married on September 15, 1794, and James adopted Dolly’s son John.
It is amusing to note that Dolly had a sister, Lucy, who married George Washington’s nephew, George Steptoe Washington.
Early Political Career
It has been noted that Madison was fond of public policy. He had a soft spot for the concept of religious freedom. This was clearly exhibited when he worked on such cases as those of the Baptist preachers. The preachers had been arrested because they were preaching with no license from the Anglican Church.
Madison became part of the Virginia state legislature from 1776-1779. During this time, he met Thomas Jefferson and eventually came to learn the ropes under his wing.
It was also during this period when Madison truly started his work as a politician. He initiated and took part in major changes in Virginia, such as the drafting of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the formation of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and the giving up of Virginia’s claims over several disputed northwestern territories.
Because of his active role in politics, many saw James Madison as a hardworking man, and thus, he was once again elected to be part of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1784-1786.
Father of the Constitution
During the early period of Madison’s time, a common concept of citizen rights and power was that they were granted to the people by the government. There was no document to uphold this. In fact, even the then-13 states of America were held together only by the Articles of Confederation, which was considered as basically a military alliance between those states.
Without a more solid and thorough document, there was much concern over national welfare, with looming issues like union break-up and bankruptcy. Madison was one of the leaders who were openly troubled by these issues.
Thus, James Madison worked hard to help call a national convention in 1787, where he presented a thorough plan for solutions, known as the Virginia plan. A major part of the plan was to divide the governmental power into the federal and state governments. The Virginia plan soon became the basis of the US Constitution.
Madison impressed the attendees of the Constitutional Convention, but he did not stop there. He pushed for the ratification of the Constitution. Ratification required that every US state decided on whether or not to adopt the document as the Constitution.
To further the cause, Madison enlisted the help of John Hamilton and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 writings from newspapers that helped explain the Constitution to the people. The book was published in all 13 states, and it also became a handbook for supporters.
Madison also had to undergo some other struggles, notably the debate in Virginia, the state with the biggest population, crucial in the ratification. He emerged victorious from this debate, and Virginia gave its conditional ratification.
Because of his great work in the Constitution, Madison earned the title “Father of the Constitution”.
Historians add that Madison remained modest in spite of this name. He did not want sole credit for the Constitution because, as he said, it was “the work of many heads and many hands”.
Writing the Bill of Rights
James Madison’s other great contribution to America could be considered an offshoot of the road towards the Constitution, albeit an excellent one. This is the Bill of Rights, and it was born out of a condition.
In the debate over the Constitution, anti-Federalists would support the ratification only if there was a bill of rights. Madison objected at first, saying that a bill of rights was unnecessary and could only cause dangerous misinterpretations. However, he eventually yielded to the demands.
Out of over 200 amendments submitted by people, the then-Congressman Madison made a synthesis of 12 amendments and collected these into a proposal. Several more amendments were made, until, in 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified.
In 1801, James Madison became the US Secretary of State, under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. He eventually became a presidential candidate, as chosen by his party in their Congressional Caucus. And in 1808, he defeated his opponent Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and won the national elections.
As with his early political life, Madison’s presidency was rich in highly significant events.
In 1815, he signed a Congressional legislation chartering the Second Bank of the United States, the national bank of the country. He was initially hesitant to do so, but the charter of the first bank had expired, and the Treasury had found it difficult to deal with war without the bank, so Madison agreed to create the second one.
It was also during Madison’s presidency when Britain launched several acts of insult towards America. Eventually, the US President declared war, and this was the War of 1812.
The British forces, however, were strong and they attained many victories. At one point, the British were closing in on the White House. James was out with the troops, so his wife Dolly had to play the important role of transporting White House valuables to safety. The valuables that she had saved, which included George Washington’s portrait, are reportedly only ones left of the original White House – the British destroyed all the rest.
In spite of many obstacles, however, America had an impressive strength, particularly in its naval fleets. Little by little, they claimed victories over their opponents. Finally, in 1815, the war ended with the Treaty of Ghent. Neither parties of the war gained new territories, but many historians agree that Americans view the War of 1812 to be the second greatest war that ensured their independence.
The President’s Legacy
James Madison’s historic presidency ended with his retirement in 1817, when he was 65 years old. He spent his days at his Virginian tobacco plantation. He also became Rector of the University of Virginia, and even served once again as a representative to the 1829 constitutional convention of Virginia. His health was waning, but he remained true to his service until he passed away on June 28, 1836.
Having been such a significant persona in America, James Madison left a legacy that the country will not forget. Dozens of landmarks, towns, cities, institutions, and natural resources have been named after him. His portrait was also featured in the US $5,000 bill.
But the true legacy of James Madison was the change of the course of history that millions are now benefiting from. As one of the Founding Fathers, he was part of the birth of America as a nation. As the Father of Constitution, he ensured that this nation would become whole, united, and most of all, in the hands of the people. And as a huge force behind the Bill of Rights, he empowered and inspired the people.
James Madison’s legacy is not contained in the United States – they rippled throughout the world. With that, he was indeed a great President.