Born in 1751 at his maternal grandparents' home in Port Conway, Virginia, he
would be raised on his father's estate at Montpelier, near Orange, Virginia. At
age 18, Madison attended Princeton University, completing the four year course
of study in 1771, after just two years. By age 25, he was an elected member of
Virginia's legislature, and he helped draft that state's new constitution in
Following the Revolutionary War, he served in the Congress established under the Articles of Confederation, and together with Alexander Hamilton, played a key role in the calling for the Constitutional Convention of 1787. At that convention the delegates struggled with the difficult task of establishing a stronger federal government. Madison's "Virginia Plan" would come to serve as the basic framework on which the Constitution would be established. The central themes to the plan were a strong central federal government, based upon a separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government, while maintaining certain powers for the individual state governments. The extent to which Madison influenced the final document resulted in his becoming known as the "Father of the Constitution," despite his own assertions that the Constitution was the work of "many heads and hands."
Following the convention, the task of securing ratification of the Constitution was set upon. Acceptance of the document and the new federal government were far from a certainty. Madison and John Jay were enlisted by Hamilton to participate in the drafting of 85 essays, which would come to be known as the Federalist Papers, and made the case for ratification. At the urging of George Washington, Madison sought election to Virginia's state convention, where he played a crucial role in winning Virginia's key ratification of the Constitution.
Once the Constitution was ratified by the states and the new federal government established, Madison was elected to the new Congress, where he sponsored the first ten amendments to the Constitution which would become known as the Bill of Rights. After eight years in Congress, Madison would ultimately come to be selected as Thomas Jefferson's Secretary of State. In that capacity he helped steer the nation's diplomatic course of neutrality between the European powers. Supported by Jefferson for President in the Election of 1808, Madison was elected as the nation's Fourth President.
In June of 1812, the nation would again go to war with Britain. The new nation entered the war with a divided public opinion and regional differences. Initial American military efforts faltered, and in 1814 British troops would advance on and burn Washington, D.C., including the Capitol and the White House. American Naval victories and the success of then General Andrew Jackson would prove key to saving the nation. The war, which would come to be known by some as the Second Revolutionary War, ended on December 24, 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. The War of 1812 played a key role in unifying the new nation and for ensuring the economic survival of the nation as it continued to expand westward.
After two terms as President, Madison left office with high public approval and once again returned to his native Virginia. He succeeded Jefferson as Rector of the University of Virginia, completed work on his notes of the Constitutional Convention, and Co-Chaired Virginia's convention to re-write their state consitution. Madison died in 1836 of debility at the age of 85, at Montpelier.
|Date of Birth||Occupations||Wife||Children|
|16 March 1751||Planter||Dorothea "Dolly" Payne Todd||One step-son|
|Electoral and Popular Votes
|Age When First
|None||Member Orange County Committee of Safety
Delegate to the Virginia Convention
Member Virginia Legislature
Member of Virginia Executive Council
Delegate Continental Congress
Delegate to Annapolis Convention
Delegate to Constitutional Convention
Member Virginia Ratification Convention
Secretary of State
Popular Vote Unknown
|Number of States
|Electoral and Popular Votes
Popular Vote Unknown
Time of Death
|Date of Death|
Co-Chairman of Virginia State Constitutional Convention
|Rector of the University of Virginia
Authored his notes on the Constitutional Convention
28 June 1836
Q1: President Madison's physical size distinguishes him how?
And the answer is...
Q2: By 1831, the longevity of the then 80 year old "Father of the Constitution" caused Madison to be....? And the answer is...
Q3: President Madison's re-election in 1812 holds what presidential election first? And the answer is...
Q4: James Madison is one of eight presidents to have been honored by having his portrait appear on our nation's paper currency. On which bill does his portrait appear? The 50 Dollar Bill, 500 Dollar Bill, or 5000 Dollar Bill.
Go to the page for James Madison maintained by the
White House Historical Association.
Take up an invitation from Professor Devin Bent, Director of the James Madison Center, and be sure to visit their comprehensive site, James Madison: His Legacy. The site is brought to you by James Madison University, and its stated mission is to be "a living memorial to James Madison, Father of the Constitution, Architect of the Bill of Rights, and Fourth President of the United States."
Go to the Heritage site from "LeftJustified" for full versions of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. The site's introduction to the Federalist Papers details Madison's role in drafting the Constitution as well as his efforts to see it ratified.
Additionally, the specific Federalist Papers written by James Madison have been
indexed at the Federalist
Papers Online, and a searchable index of the Federalist Papers is available
Take a moment and review the Madison biography on the page highlighting Virginia's Delegation to the Constitutional Convention.
Visit the extensive site dedicated to
James Madison's papers and biography maintained by the University of Virginia.
Read the Inaugural Addresses of each of our presidents by going to the site maintained by the Bartleby Library.
Take a look at the site for the James Madison Museum. Located near Madison's home in the Town of Orange, Virginia, this small museum is the only one dedicated exclusively to the man known as the "Father of the Constitution" and our Fourth President.
Go to James Madison's Home, by visiting the official "Montpelier" site, which is also the site where President Madison is buried.