James Madison, Jr. (March 16, 1751 (O.S. March 5) – June 28, 1836) was an American 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, he was a slaveholder and part of the elite; 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 New York 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 the constitution, 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". Madison worked 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. He co-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 diplomatic protests 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 the United States had neither a strong army nor financial system; as a result, he afterward supported a stronger national government and a strong military, as well as the national bank, which he had long opposed.
Early life and education
James Madison, Jr. was born at Belle Grove Plantation near Port Conway, Virginia on March 16, 1751, (March 5, 1751, Old Style, Julian calendar), where his mother had returned to her parents' home to give birth. He grew up as the oldest of twelve children. Nelly and James Sr. had seven more boys and four girls. Three of James Jr's brothers died as infants, including one who was stillborn. In the summer of 1775, his sister Elizabeth (age 7) and his brother Reuben (age 3) died in a dysentery epidemic that swept through Orange County because of contaminated water.
His father, James Madison, Sr. (1723 1801), was a tobacco planter who grew up on a plantation, then called Mount Pleasant, in Orange County, Virginia, which he had inherited upon reaching maturity. He later acquired more property and, with , became the largest landowner and a leading citizen of Orange County. James Jr's mother, Nelly Conway Madison (1731 1829), was born at Port Conway, the daughter of a prominent planter and tobacco merchant and his wife. Madison's parents were married on September 15, 1749. In these years the southern colonies were becoming a slave society, in which slave labor powered the economy and slaveholders formed the political elite.
Montpelier]], Madison's tobacco plantation in Virginia From ages 11 to 16, the young "Jemmy" Madison was sent to study under Donald Robertson, an instructor at the Innes plantation in King and Queen County, Virginia in the Tidewater region. Robertson was a Scottish teacher who tutored numerous prominent plantation families in the South. From Robertson, Madison learned mathematics, geography, and modern and ancient languages. He became especially proficient in Latin. Madison said that he owed his bent for learning "largely to that man (Robertson)."
At age 16, he returned to Montpelier, where he began a two-year course of study under the Reverend Thomas Martin in preparation for college. Unlike most college-bound Virginians of his day, Madison did not choose the College of William and Mary, because the lowland climate of Williamsburg, where mosquitoes transmitted fevers and other infectious diseases during the summer, might have strained his delicate health. Instead, in 1769, he enrolled at the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University.
Through diligence and long hours of study that may have damaged his health, Madison graduated in 1771. His studies included Latin, Greek, science, geography, mathematics, rhetoric, and philosophy. Great emphasis also was placed on speech and debate. After graduation, Madison remained at Princeton to study Hebrew and political philosophy under the university president, John Witherspoon, before returning to Montpelier in the spring of 1772. He became quite fluent in Hebrew. Madison studied law from his interest in public policy, not with the intent of practicing law as a profession.
Early political career
Congressman Madison, age 32 by Charles Willson Peale. As a young man during the American Revolutionary War, Madison served in the Virginia state legislature (1776 79), where he became known as a prot g of the delegate Thomas Jefferson. He had earlier witnessed the persecution of Baptist preachers in Virginia, who were arrested for preaching without a license from the established Anglican Church. He worked with the Baptist preacher Elijah Craig on constitutional guarantees for religious liberty in Virginia. Working on such cases helped form his ideas about religious freedom, which he applied to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Madison attained prominence in Virginia politics, working with Jefferson to draft the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was finally passed in 1786. It disestablished the Church of England and disclaimed any power of state compulsion in religious matters. He excluded Patrick Henry's plan to compel citizens to pay taxes that would go to a congregation of their choice. In 1777 Madison's cousin, the Right Reverend James Madison (1749 1812), became president of The College of William & Mary. Working closely with Madison and Jefferson, Bishop Madison helped lead the College through the changes involving separation from both Great Britain and the Church of England. He also led college and state actions that resulted in the formation of the new Episcopal Diocese of Virginia after the Revolution.
As the youngest delegate to the Continental Congress (1780 83), Madison was considered a legislative workhorse and a master of parliamentary coalition building. He persuaded Virginia to give up its claims to northwestern territories consisting of most of modern-day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota to the Continental Congress. It created the Northwest Territory in 1783, as a federally supervised territory from which new states would be developed and admitted to the union. Virginia's land claims had partially overlapped with those by Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and possibly others. All of these states ceded their westernmost lands to national authority, with the understanding that new states could be formed from the land. The Northwest Ordinance prohibited slavery in the new territory north of the Ohio River, but did not end it for those slaves held by settlers already in the territory.
Madison was elected a second time to the Virginia House of Delegates, serving from 1784 to 1786 in the new years of independence. During these final years in the House of Delegates, Madison grew increasingly frustrated with what he saw as excessive democracy. He criticized the tendency for delegates to cater to the particular interests of their constituents, even if such interests were destructive to the state at large. In particular, he was troubled by a law that denied diplomatic immunity to ambassadors from other countries, and a law that legalized paper money. He thought legislators should be "disinterested" and act in the interests of their state at large, even if this contradicted the wishes of constituents. This "excessive democracy," Madison grew to believe, was the cause of a larger social decay which he and others (such as Washington) believed had resumed after the revolution and was nearing a tipping point. They were alarmed by Shays' Rebellion.
Father of the Constitution
The U.S. Constitution Prior to the Constitution, the thirteen states were bound together by the Articles of Confederation, which was essentially a military alliance among sovereign nations to fight the Revolutionary War. This arrangement did not work particularly well, and after the war was over, it was even less successful. Congress had no power to tax, and as a result was not paying the debts left over from the Revolution. Madison and other leaders, such as Washington and Benjamin Franklin, were very concerned about this. They feared a break-up of the union and national bankruptcy. The historian Gordon S. Wood has noted that many leaders such as Madison and Washington, feared more that the revolution had not fixed the social problems that had triggered it, and the excesses ascribed to the King were being seen in the state legislatures. Though Shays' Rebellion is often cited as the event that forced the rewriting of the national charter, Wood argues that many at the time saw it as only the most extreme example of democratic excess. Such thinkers believed the constitution would need to do more than fix the Articles of Confederation. Like the revolution, it would need to rewrite the social compact and redefine the relationship among the states, the national government, and the people.
As Madison wrote, "a crisis had arrived which was to decide whether the American experiment was to be a blessing to the world, or to blast for ever the hopes which the republican cause had inspired." Partly at Madison's instigation, a national convention was called in 1787. Madison was crucial in persuading George Washington to attend the convention, since he knew how important the president would be to the adoption of a constitution. As one of the first delegates to arrive, while waiting for the convention to begin, Madison wrote what became known as the Virginia Plan. The Virginia Plan was submitted at the opening of the convention, and the work of the convention quickly became to amend the Virginia Plan and to fill in the gaps. Though the Virginia Plan was an outline rather than a draft of a possible constitution, and though it was extensively changed during the debate (especially by John Rutledge and James Wilson in the Committee of Detail), its use at the convention led many to call Madison the "Father of the Constitution".
During the course of the Convention, he spoke over two hundred times, and his fellow delegates rated him highly. For example, William Pierce wrote that "...every Person seems to acknowledge his greatness. In the management of every great question he evidently took the lead in the Convention... he always comes forward as the best informed Man of any point in debate." Madison recorded the unofficial minutes of the convention, and these have become the only comprehensive record of what occurred. The historian Clinton Rossiter regarded Madison's performance as "a combination of learning, experience, purpose, and imagination that not even Adams or Jefferson could have equaled." Years earlier he had pored over crates of books that Jefferson sent him from France on every form of government ever tried. The historian Douglas Adair called Madison's work "probably the most fruitful piece of scholarly research ever carried out by an American." Many have argued that this helped prepare him for the convention.
Gordon Wood, however, argues that Madison's frustrating experience in the Virginia legislature years earlier most shaped his constitutional views. Wood notes that the governmental structure in both the Virginia Plan and the final constitution were not innovative, since they were copied from the British government, had been used in the states since 1776, and numerous authors had already argued for adoption at the national level. Most of what was controversial in the Virginia Plan was removed, and most of the rest had been commonly accepted as necessary for a functional government (state or national) for decades; thus, Madison's contribution was more qualitative. Wood argues that, like most national politicians of the late 1780s, Madison believed that the problem was less with the Articles of Confederation than with the nature of the state legislatures, and so the solution was not to fix the articles, but to restrain the excesses of the states. This required more than an alternation in the Articles of Confederation: it required a change in the character of the national compact. The ultimate question before the convention, Wood notes, was not how to design a government but whether the states should remain sovereign, whether sovereignty should be transferred to the national government, or whether the constitution should settle somewhere in between.
Those, like Madison, who thought democracy in the state legislatures was excessive and insufficiently "disinterested", wanted sovereignty transferred to the national government, while those (like Patrick Henry) who did not think this a problem, wanted to fix the Articles of Confederation. Madison was one of the only delegates who wanted to deprive the states of sovereignty completely, which he considered the only solution to the problem. Though sharing the same goal as Madison, most other delegates reacted strongly against such an extreme change to the status quo. Though Madison lost most of his battles over how to amend the Virginia Plan (most importantly over the exclusion of the Council of Revision), in the process he increasingly shifted the debate away from a position of pure state sovereignty. Since most disagreements over what to include in the constitution were ultimately disputes over the balance of sovereignty between the states and national government, Madison's influence was critical. Wood notes that Madison's ultimate contribution was not in designing any particular constitutional framework, but in shifting the debate toward a compromise of "shared sovereignty" between the national and state governments.
Federalist Papers and ratification debates
The Constitution developed by the convention in Philadelphia had to be ratified. This would be done by special conventions called in each state to decide that sole question of ratification. Madison was a leader in the ratification effort. He, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers, a series of 85 newspaper articles published in New York to explain how the proposed Constitution would work, mainly by responding to criticisms from anti-federalists. They were also published in book form and became a virtual debater s handbook for the supporters of the Constitution in the ratifying conventions. The historian Clinton Rossiter called the Federalist Papers the most important work in political science that ever has been written, or is likely ever to be written, in the United States.  They were not scholarly arguments or impartial justifications for the constitution, but political polemics intended to assist the federalists in New York, which was the only state to have a coordinated anti-federalist movement. Madison was involved in the project mainly because he was a delegate to the lame duck Confederation Congress, which was meeting in New York.
If Virginia, the most populous state at the time, did not ratify the Constitution, the new national government would likely not succeed. When the Virginia convention began, the constitution had not yet been ratified by the required nine states. New York, the second largest state and a bastion of anti-federalism, would likely not ratify it if Virginia rejected the constitution, and Virginia's exclusion from the new government would disqualify George Washington from being the first president. Virginia delegates believed that Washington's election as the first president was an implicit condition for their acceptance of the new constitution and the new government. Without Virginia, a new convention might have been held and a new constitution written in a much more polarized atmosphere, since the constitution did not specify what would happen if it was only partially ratified. The states might have joined in regional confederacies or allied with Spain, France or Britain, which still had North American colonies. Arguably the most prominent anti-federalist, the powerful orator Patrick Henry was a delegate and had a following second only to Washington (who was not a delegate). Most delegates believed that most Virginians opposed the constitution. Initially Madison did not want to stand for election to the Virginia ratifying convention, but was persuaded to do so because the situation looked so bad. His role at the convention was likely critical to Virginia's ratification, and thus to the success of the constitution generally.
As the states were leery of creating a powerful central government, the drive to achieve ratification was difficult. Patrick Henry feared that the constitution would trample on the independence of the states and the rights of citizens. In the Virginia ratifying convention, Madison, who was a terrible public speaker, had to go up against Henry, who was the finest orator in the country. Although Henry was by far the more powerful and dramatic speaker, Madison successfully matched him. While Henry's arguments were emotional appeals to possible unintended consequences, Madison responded with rational answers to these arguments; he eventually argued that Henry's claims were becoming absurd. Madison pointed out that a limited government would be created, and that the powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined.  Madison persuaded prominent figures such as George Mason and Edmund Randolph, who had refused to endorse the constitution at the convention, to change their position and support it at the ratifying convention. Mason and Randolph's switch likely changed the votes of several more anti-federalists. When the vote was nearing, and the constitution still looked likely to be defeated, Madison pleaded with a small group of anti-federalists, and promised them he would push for a bill of rights later if they changed their votes. When the vote was held, the convention barely had sufficient votes to ratify, and these likely did not appear until the last minute.
Madison was called the Father of the Constitution by his peers in his own lifetime. However, he was modest, and he protested the title as being "a credit to which I have no claim... The Constitution was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands". He wrote Hamilton at the New York ratifying convention, stating his opinion that "ratification was in toto and 'for ever'".
Member of Congress
Madison had been a delegate to the Confederation Congress, and wanted to be elected senator in the new government. A vengeful Patrick Henry wanted to deny Madison a seat in the new congress, so he ensured that Madison remained in the lame duck Confederation Congress to prevent him as long as possible from campaigning. Henry used his power to keep the Virginia legislature from appointing Madison as one of the state s senators. When Madison decided to run for election to the house instead, Henry gerrymandered Madison s home district, filling it with anti-federalists in an attempt to prevent Madison's election. Madison could have run in another district, so to prevent this, Henry forced through a law requiring congressmen to live in the district they represent. Later this was recognized as unconstitutional but, at the time, the law made it increasingly unlikely that Madison would be elected to congress. He ran against James Monroe, a future president, and traveled with Monroe while campaigning. Later as president, Madison was told by some of his former constituents that, had it not been for unusually bad weather on election day, Monroe likely would have won. Madison defeated Monroe and became an important leader in Congress.
Father of the Bill of Rights
Though the idea for a bill of rights had been suggested at the end of the constitutional convention, the delegates wanted to go home and thought the suggestion unnecessary. The omission of a bill of rights became the main argument of the anti-federalists against the constitution. Though no state conditioned ratification of the constitution on a bill of rights, several states came close, and the issue almost prevented the constitution from being ratified. Some anti-federalists continued to fight the issue after the constitution had been ratified, and threatened the entire nation with another constitutional convention. This would likely be far more partisan than the first had been. Madison objected to a specific bill of rights for several reasons: he thought it was unnecessary, since it purported to protect against powers that the federal government had not been granted; that it was dangerous, since enumeration of some rights might be taken to imply the absence of other rights; and that at the state level, bills of rights had proven to be useless paper barriers against government powers.
Though few in the new congress wanted to debate a possible Bill of Rights (for the next century, most thought that the Declaration of Independence, not the first ten constitutional amendments, constituted the true Bill of Rights), Madison pressed the issue. Congress was extremely busy with setting up the new government, most wanted to wait for the system to show its defects before amending the constitution, and the anti-federalist movements (which had demanded a new convention) had died out quickly once the constitution was ratified. Despite this, Madison still feared that the states would compel congress to call for a new constitutional convention, which they had the right to do. He also believed that the constitution did not sufficiently protect the national government from excessive democracy and parochialism (the defects he saw in the state governments), so he saw his amendments as a way to mitigate these problems. On June 8, 1789, Madison introduced his bill proposing amendments consisting of Nine Articles comprising up to 20 Amendments depending on how one counted. Madison initially proposed that the amendments would be incorporated into the body of the Constitution. Through an exhaustive campaign, he persuaded the House to pass most of his slate of amendments. The House rejected the idea of placing the amendements in the body of the Constitution and instead adopted 17 Amendments to be attached separately and sent this bill to the Senate. .
The Senate took up his slate of amendments, condensed them into eleven, and removed the language which Madison had included so that they would be integrated into the body of the constitution. The senate also added what became the Ninth Amendment, which was not included in Madison's original slate. To Madison's deep disappointment, they excluded a proposed amendment that guaranteed national sovereignty over the states. Scholars have argued that, if this amendment had been included, the Civil War might have been avoided. By 1791, the last ten of the proposed amendments were ratified and became the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment originally proposed by Madison (but not then ratified) was later ratified in 1992 as the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. The remaining proposal was intended to accommodate future increase in the members of the House of Representatives.
Debates on foreign policy
When Britain and France went to war in 1793, the U.S. was caught in the middle. The 1778 treaty of alliance with France was still in effect, yet most of the new country's trade was with Britain. War with Britain seemed imminent in 1794, as the British seized hundreds of American ships that were trading with French colonies. Madison believed that Britain was weak and the United States was strong, and that a trade war with Britain, although risking a real war by the British government, probably would succeed, and would allow Americans to assert their independence fully. Great Britain, he charged, "has bound us in commercial manacles, and very nearly defeated the object of our independence." As Varg explains, Madison discounted the much more powerful British army and navy for "her interests can be wounded almost mortally, while ours are invulnerable." The British West Indies, Madison maintained, could not live without American foodstuffs, but Americans could easily do without British manufactures. This faith led him to the conclusion "that it is in our power, in a very short time, to supply all the tonnage necessary for our own commerce". However, George Washington avoided a trade war and instead secured friendly trade relations with Britain through the Jay Treaty of 1794. Madison threw his energies into fighting the Treaty his mobilization of grassroots support helped form the First Party System. He failed in both the Senate and House, and the Jay Treaty led to ten years of prosperous trade with Britain (and anger on the part of France leading to the Quasi-War). All across the United States, voters divided for and against the Treaty and other key issues, and thus became either Federalists or Jeffersonian Republicans.
Founding the Democratic-Republican party
Supporters for ratification of the Constitution had become known as the Federalist Party. Those opposing the proposed constitution were labeled Anti-Federalists, but neither group was a political party in the modern sense. Following ratification of the Constitution and formation of the first government in 1789, two new political factions formed along similar lines as the old division. The supporters of Alexander Hamilton's attempts to strengthen the national government called themselves Federalists, while those who opposed Hamilton called themselves "Republicans" (later historians would refer to them as the Democratic-Republican party). Madison and Thomas Jefferson were the leaders of this second group. As first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton created many new federal institutions, including the Bank of the United States. Madison led the unsuccessful attempt in Congress to block Hamilton's proposal, arguing that the new Constitution did not explicitly allow the federal government to form a bank. As early as May 26, 1792, Hamilton complained, "Mr. Madison cooperating with Mr. Jefferson is at the head of a faction decidedly hostile to me and my administration." On May 5, 1792, Madison told Washington, "with respect to the spirit of party that was taking place ...I was sensible of its existence".
In 1798 under President John Adams, the U.S. and France unofficially went to war the Quasi War, that involved naval warships and commercial vessels battling in the Caribbean. The Federalists created a standing army and passed laws against French refugees engaged in American politics and against Republican editors. Congressman Madison and Vice President Jefferson were outraged. Madison and Jefferson secretly drafted the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions declaring the Alien and Sedition Acts to be unconstitutional and noted that "states, in contesting obnoxious laws, should 'interpose for arresting the progress of the evil.'" These turned out to be unpopular, even among republicans, since they called for state governments to invalidate federal laws. Jefferson went even further, urging states to secede if necessary, though Madison convinced Jefferson to back down from this extreme view. According to Chernow, Madison's position "was a breathtaking evolution for a man who had pleaded at the Constitutional Convention that the federal government should possess a veto over state laws." Chernow feels that Madison's politics remained closely aligned with Jefferson's until the experience of a weak national government during the War of 1812 caused Madison to appreciate the need for a strong central government to aid national defense. He then began to support a national bank, a stronger navy, and a standing army. However, other historians, such as Gary Rosen, Lance Banning and Gordon S. Wood, see Madison's views as being remarkably consistent over a political career spanning half a century.
Marriage and family
Madison was 43 when he married for the first time, which was considered late in that era. On September 15, 1794, James Madison married Dolley Payne Todd, a widow, at Harewood, in what is now Jefferson County, West Virginia. Madison adopted Todd's one surviving son, John Payne Todd (known as Payne), after the marriage. Dolley Payne was born May 20, 1768, at the New Garden Quaker settlement in North Carolina, where her parents, John Payne and Mary Coles Payne, lived briefly. Dolley's sister, Lucy Payne, had recently married George Steptoe Washington, a nephew of President Washington.
As a member of Congress, Madison had doubtless met the widow Todd at social functions in Philadelphia, then the nation's capital. She had been living there with her late husband. In May 1794, Madison asked their mutual friend Aaron Burr to arrange a meeting. The encounter apparently went smoothly, for a brisk courtship followed and, by August, she had accepted his proposal of marriage. For marrying Madison, a non-Quaker, she was expelled from the Society of Friends.
They were known to have a happy marriage. Dolley Madison put her social gifts to use when the couple lived in Washington, beginning when he was Secretary of State. With the White House still under construction, she advised as to its furnishings and sometimes served as First Lady for ceremonial functions for President Thomas Jefferson, a widower and their friend. When her husband was president, she created the role of First Lady, using her social talents to advance his program. She is credited with adding to his popularity in office.
Madison's father died in 1801 and at age 50, Madison inherited the large plantation of Montpelier and other holdings, and his father's 108 slaves. He had begun to act as a steward of his father's properties by 1780, but this completed his takeover.
United States Secretary of State 1801 1809
When Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as president in 1801, he named Madison to be his secretary of state. At the start of his term, Madison was a party to the United States Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803), in which the doctrine of judicial review was asserted by the high Court, much to the annoyance of the Jeffersonians who did not want a powerful federalist judiciary. The main challenge to the Jefferson Administration was maintaining neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars. Throughout Jefferson's presidency, much of Europe was at war, at first between France and Austria. After the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, where France decisively defeated the Austrian Hapsburgs, the conflict transformed into a grinding war between France and Britain.
Shortly before Jefferson's election, Napoleon had seized power from the hapless French Directory, which had recently mismanaged France's finances in unsuccessful wars and had lost control of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) after a slave rebellion. Beginning in 1802, Napoleon sent more than 20,000 troops to try to restore slavery on the island, as its colonial sugar cane plantations had been the chief revenue producer in the New World for France. The warfare went badly and the troops were further decimated by yellow fever. Napoleon sold the Louisiana territory to Madison and Jefferson in 1803. Later that year, the 7,000 surviving French troops were withdrawn from the island, and in 1804 Haiti declared its independence as a black republic. The original treaty of the Louisiana Purchase
Many contemporaries and later historians, such as Ron Chernow, noted that Madison and President Jefferson ignored their "strict construction" view of the Constitution to take advantage of the purchase opportunity. Jefferson would have preferred to have a constitutional amendment authorizing the purchase, but did not have time nor was he required to do so. The Senate quickly ratified the treaty that completed the purchase. The House, with equal alacrity, passed enabling legislation. With the wars raging in Europe, Madison tried to maintain American neutrality, and insisted on the legal rights of the U.S. as a neutral under international law.
Neither London nor Paris showed much respect, however, and the situation deteriorated during Jefferson's second term. After Napoleon achieved victory at Austerlitz over his enemies in continental Europe, he became more aggressive and tried to starve Britain into submission with an embargo that was economically ruinous to both sides. Madison and Jefferson had also decided on an embargo to punish Britain and France, which forbade American trade with any foreign nation. The embargo failed in the United States just as it did in France, and caused massive hardships up and down the seaboard, which depended on foreign trade. The Federalists made a comeback in the Northeast by attacking the embargo, which was allowed to expire just as Jefferson was leaving office.
Election of 1808
With Jefferson's second term winding down, and his decision to retire widely known, Madison decided to seek the presidency in 1808. His nomination for the Presidency was challenged by Rep. John Randolph, who apparently believed Sec. Madison had prevented him from becoming minister to Britain. Randolph had been President Jefferson's political opponent in the House. Randolph attempted to block Madison's nomination by running James Monroe; thus gaining the support of Federalists, since Madison was considered Jefferson's staunch political ally. Support for Madison, however, among his party and in the Virginia legislature was overwhelming by a tally of 133 to 57. At the time, each party's Congressional Caucus chose presidential candidates, and in 1808 the Democratic-Republicans chose Madison. As the Federalist party by this time had almost completely disintegrated, Madison was selected in the election of 1808, easily defeating Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.
Presidency 1809 1817
James Madison engraving by David Edwin from between 1809 and 1817 Upon his Inauguration in 1809, Madison immediately had difficulty in his appointment selection of Sec. Albert Gallatin as Secretary of State. Under opposition from Sen. William B. Giles, Madison chose not to fight Congress for the nomination but kept Sec. Gallatin, a carry over from the Jefferson Administration, in the Treasury. The talented Swiss born Gallatin was Madison's primary advisor, confident, and policy planner. Madison appointed Robert Smith for Secretary of State, Jefferson's former Secretary of Navy. For his Secretary of Navy, Madison appointed Paul Hamilton. Madison's Cabinet, that included men of mediocre talent, was chosen in terms of national interest and political harmony. When Madison assumed office in 1809, the federal government had a surplus of $9,500,000 and by 1810 the national debt continued to be reduced and taxes had been cut.
Bank of United States
Madison sought to continue Jefferson's agenda, in particular the dismantling of the system left behind by the federalists under Washington and Adams. One of the most pressing issues Madison confronted was the first Bank of the United States. Its twenty-year charter was scheduled to expire in 1811, and while Madison's treasury secretary said the bank was a necessity, Congress failed to re-authorize it. As the absence of a national bank made war with Britain very difficult to finance, in 1814 Congress passed a bill chartering a second national bank. Madison vetoed it. In 1816, Congress passed another bill to charter a second national bank; Madison signed the act, having learned the bank was needed from the war with Britain.
Prelude to war
By 1809 the Federalist party had almost completely disappeared, and its former members (such as John Quincy Adams, Madison's ambassador to Russia) had joined Madison's Democratic-Republican party. Though one party appeared to dominate, it had begun to split into rival factions, which would later form the basis of the modern party system. In particular, with hostilities against Britain appearing increasingly likely, factions in favor and against war with Britain formed in Congress. The predominant faction, the "War Hawks," were led by House Speaker Henry Clay. When war finally did break out, the war effort was led by the War Hawks in Congress under Clay at least as much as it was by Madison; this accorded with the president's preference for checks and balances.
Napoleon had won a decisive victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, and as a consequence Europe remained mostly at peace for the next few years. Congress repealed Jefferson's embargo shortly before Madison became president. America's new Nonintercource policy was to trade with all countries including France and Britain if restrictions on shipping were removed. Madison's diplomatic efforts in April 1809, although initially promising, to get the British to withdraw the Orders in Council were rejected by British Foriegn Secretary George Canning.  By August 1809, diplomatic relations with Britain deteriorated as minister David Erskine was withdrawn and replaced by "hatchet man" Francis James Jackson; Madison however, resisted calls for war.After Jackson accused Madison of duplicity with Erskine, Madison had Jackson barred from the State Department and sent packing to Boston. Madison during his first state of the Union address in November 1809, asked Congress for advice and alternatives concerning British-American trade crisis and to prepare for war. By Spring 1810, President Madison was specifically asking Congress for more appropriations to increase the Army and Navy in preparation for war with Britain. Together with the effects of European peace, the United States economy began to recover early in Madison's presidency. By the time Madison was standing for reelection, the Peninsular War in Spain had spread, while at the same time Napoleon invaded Russia, and the entire continent again descended into war.
War of 1812
The United States entered the War of 1812, which in many respects was a theater of the broader Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon began his Continental System, intended to force other European countries to join his embargo of Britain. Although he was initially successful in starving out Britain, Portugal refused to capitulate, leading to the Peninsular War throughout Spain. This loosened Spain's grip on its South American colonies. Great Britain became the only major power in the Atlantic, and as it increased naval pressure against Napoleon, it inadvertently did the same against American ships. British tactics quickly caused widespread American anger. Britain used its navy to prevent American ships from trading with France. The United States, which was a neutral nation, considered this act to be against international law. Britain also armed Indian tribes in the Northwest Territory and encouraged them to attack settlers, even though Britain had ceded this territory to the United States by treaties in 1783 and 1794. The Royal Navy boarded American ships on the high seas and impressed its seamen, as it needed more sailors than it could recruit. The United States looked upon this as no less an affront to American sovereignty than if the British had invaded American soil. Americans called for a "second war of independence" to restore honor and stature to the new nation. An angry public elected a war hawk Congress, led by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war, which was passed along sectional and party lines, with intense opposition from the Federalists and the Northeast, where the economy had suffered during Jefferson's trade embargo.
Hurriedly Madison called on Congress to put the country into an armor and an attitude demanded by the crisis, specifically recommending enlarging the army, preparing the militia, finishing the military academy, stockpiling munitions, and expanding the navy. Madison faced formidable obstacles a divided cabinet, a factious party, a recalcitrant Congress, obstructionist governors, and incompetent generals, together with militia who refused to fight outside their states. Most serious was lack of unified popular support. There were serious threats of disunion from New England, which engaged in extensive smuggling with Canada and refused to provide financial support or soldiers. The problems were worse due to Jefferson's and Madison's dismantling of the system built by Hamilton and the Federalists. They had reduced the military, closed the Bank of the U.S., and narrowed the tax system. They distrusted standing armies and banks, and the dismantling of the federalist taxation system meant they could not finance the quick hiring of mercenaries. By the time the war began, Madison's military force consisted mostly of poorly trained militia members. HMS Guerriere]], a significant event during the war.
The senior command at the War Department and in the field proved incompetent or cowardly the general at Detroit surrendered to a smaller British force without firing a shot. Gallatin at the Treasury discovered the war was almost impossible to fund, since the national bank had been closed and major financiers in the Northeast refused to help. Madison believed the U.S. could easily seize Canada and thus cut off food supplies to the West Indies, making for a good bargaining chip at the peace talks. But the US invasion efforts all failed. Madison had believed the state militias would rally to the flag and invade Canada, but the governors in the Northeast failed to cooperate. Their militias either sat out the war or refused to leave their respective states for action. The British armed American Indians in the Northwest, most notably several tribes allied with the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh. But, after losing control of Lake Erie at the naval Battle of Lake Erie in 1813, the British were forced to retreat. General William Henry Harrison caught up with them at the Battle of the Thames, where he destroyed the British and Indian armies, killed Tecumseh, and permanently destroyed Indian power in the Great Lakes region. The British raided Washington in 1814, as Madison headed a dispirited militia. Dolley Madison rescued White House valuables and documents shortly before the British burned the White House, the Capitol and other public buildings.
By 1814, Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison had destroyed the main Indian threats in the South and West, respectively. As part of the war effort, an American naval shipyard was built up at Sackets Harbor, New York, where thousands of men produced twelve warships and had another nearly ready by the end of the war. American frigates and other vessels, such as the USS Constitution, USS United States, USS Chesapeake, USS Hornet, USS Wasp, and USS Essex, won some significant naval battles on the Great Lakes. In a famous three-hour battle with the HMS Java, the USS Constitution earned her nickname, Old Ironsides.  The U.S. fleet on Lake Erie went up against a superior British force there and destroyed or captured the entire British Fleet on the lake. Commander Oliver Hazard Perry reported his victory with the simple statement, We have met the enemy, and they are ours.  America had built up one of the largest merchant fleets in the world, though it had been partially dismantled under Jefferson and Madison. Madison authorized many of these ships to become privateers in the war. Armed, they captured 1,800 British ships.
The courageous, successful defense of Ft. McHenry, which guarded the seaway to Baltimore, against one of the most intense naval bombardments in history (over 24 hours), led Francis Scott Key to write the poem that was set to music as the U.S. national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.  In New Orleans, Gen. Andrew Jackson put together a force including regular Army troops, militia, frontiersmen, Creoles, Native American allies and Jean Lafitte s pirates. The Battle of New Orleans took place two weeks after peace treaty was drafted (but before it was ratified, so the war was not over). The Americans smashed the British invasion army in the greatest victory of the war. The Treaty of Ghent ended the war in February 1815, with no territorial gains on either side. The Americans felt that their national honor had been restored in what has been called the Second War of American Independence.  To most Americans, the quick succession of events at the end of the war (the burning of the capital, the Battle of New Orleans, and the Treaty of Ghent) appeared as though American valor at New Orleans had forced the British to surrender after almost winning. This view, while inaccurate, strongly contributed to the post-war euphoria that persisted for a decade. It also helps explain the significance of the war, even if it was strategically inconclusive. Napoleon was defeated for the last time at the Battle of Waterloo near the end of Madison's presidency, and as the Napoleonic Wars ended, so did the War of 1812. Madison's final years began an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, which was called the Era of Good Feelings. Madison's reputation as President improved and Americans finally believed the United States had established itself as a world power.
The unfinished United States Capitol was set ablaze by the British on August 24, 1814.
James Wilkinson was a controversial U.S. military commander and appointed governor of the Louisiana Territory by Thomas Jefferson in 1805. Wilkinson had earlier been implicated in Aaron Burr's conspiracy to form a new nation in the West and taking Spanish gold, however, he was exonerated in 1808. Jefferson chose to retain Wilkinson, a Republican, for political expedience. After Madison assumed the Presidency in 1809, he placed Wilkinson in charge of Terra aux Boeufs on the Louisiana coast to protect the U.S. from invasion. Wilkinson proved to be an incompetent general as many soldiers complained that Wilkerson was an ineffectual leader, their tents were defective, and became sick by malaria, dysentery, and scurvy; dozens having died daily. Wilkinson made excuses and refused to move inland from the mosquito infested coastline. A two year congressional investigation into the Wilkinson matter proved to be inconclusive and Madison was given the decision of keeping or sacking Wilkinson. Rather then fire his incompetent general, Madison chose to retain Wilkinson for political considerations, since Wilkerson had influence as a Pennsylvania Republican. By retaining Wilkinson, both Jefferson and Madison implemented a disastrous precedent of appointing military leaders in both the Army and Navy for political reasons rather then competence. Historian Robert Allen Rutland stated the Wilkinson affair left "scars on the War Department" and "left Madison surrounded by senior military incompetents..." at the beginning of the War of 1812. After Wilkinson's two battle defeats by the British, Madison relieved Wilkinson from active military service.
Upon assuming office on March 4, 1809 James Madison, in his first Inaugural Address to the nation, stated that the federal governments duty was to convert the Indians by the "participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state". Madison, like Jefferson, took on a paternal outlook towards Indians and encouraged them give up hunting and become farmers. Although there are scant details, Madison often met with Southeastern and Western Indians that included the Creeks and Osages. As pioneers and settlers moved West into large tracts of Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, and Chickasaws territory, Madison ordered that Native lands be protected by the U.S. Army from intrusion, much to the chagrin of his military commander Andrew Jackson; who wanted the President to ignore Indian pleas to stop the invasion of their lands. Jackson, however, remained obstinate to carry out Madison's direct order to protect the Indians from encroachment. In the Northwest Territory, after the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, Indians were pushed off their tribal lands and replaced entirely by white settlers. By 1815, with a population of 400,000 settlers in Ohio, all rights to Indian lands had been made null and void.
Creek Indians being taught how to grow food by Benjamin Hawkins
in 1805. Madision believed agriculture would install the values of white civilizaton among Indians.
Administration and cabinet
- Madison is the only president to have had two vice-presidents die while in office.
Madison appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
Madison appointed eleven other federal judges, two to the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, and nine to the various United States district courts. One of those judges was appointed twice, to different seats on the same court.
States admitted to the Union
Gilbert Stuart Portrait of James Madison c. 1821 When Madison left office in 1817, he retired to Montpelier, his tobacco plantation in Virginia; not far from Jefferson's Monticello. Madison was then 65 years old. Dolley, who thought they would finally have a chance to travel to Paris, was 49. As with both Washington and Jefferson, Madison left the presidency a poorer man than when he entered, due to the steady financial collapse of his plantation, with the continued low price of tobacco and his stepson's mismanagement.
Insight into Madison is provided by the first "White House memoir," A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison (1865). It was told by his slave Paul Jennings, who served the president from the age of 10 as a footman and later as a valet for the rest of Madison's life. Jennings was freed in 1845 by arrangement with the senator Daniel Webster, who bought him for that purpose. He published his short account in 1865. He had the highest respect for Madison and said he never struck a slave, nor permitted an overseer to do so. If slaves misbehaved, he would meet with the person privately to try to talk about the behavior. Madison had advocated that freed slaves and blacks return to Africa. Madison's slaves, however, wanted to remain in the U.S. and resisted repatriation. Madison may have sold or donated his gristmill in support of the American Colonization Society.
Some historians speculate that Madison's mounting debt was one of the chief reasons why he refused to allow his notes on the Constitutional Convention, or its official records which he possessed, to be published in his lifetime. "He knew the value of his notes, and wanted them to bring money to his estate for Dolley's use as his plantation failed he was hoping for one hundred thousand dollars from the sale of his papers, of which the notes were the gem." Madison's financial troubles and deteriorating mental and physical health would continue to consume him.
In his later years, Madison became extremely concerned about his historic legacy. He took to modifying letters and other documents in his possessions: changing days and dates, adding and deleting words and sentences, and shifting characters. By the time he had reached his late seventies, this "straightening out" had become almost an obsession. As an example, he edited a letter written to Jefferson criticizing Lafayette: Madison not only inked out original passages, but went so far as to imitate Jefferson's handwriting as well. Madison may have been trying to make himself clear, to justify his actions both to history and to himself.
A portrait of Madison, at age 82
In 1826, after the death of Jefferson, Madison followed Jefferson as the second Rector ("President") of the University of Virginia. It would be his last occupation. He retained the position as college chancellor for ten years until his death in 1836.
In 1829, at the age of 78, Madison was chosen as a representative to the constitutional convention in Richmond for the revising of the Virginia state constitution; it was his last appearance as a legislator and constitutional drafter. The issue of greatest importance at this convention was apportionment. The western districts of Virginia complained that they were underrepresented because the state constitution apportioned voting districts by county, not population. The growing population in the Piedmont and western parts of the state were not reflected in their representation in the legislature. Western reformers also wanted to extend suffrage to all white men, in place of the historic property requirement. Madison tried to effect a compromise, but to no avail. Eventually, suffrage rights were extended to renters as well as landowners, but the eastern planters refused to adopt population apportionment. Madison was disappointed at the failure of Virginians to resolve the issue more equitably. "The Convention of 1829, we might say, pushed Madison steadily to the brink of self-delusion, if not despair. The dilemma of slavery undid him."
Madison grave marker at Montpelier estate Through failing health, Madison wrote several memoranda on political subjects, including an essay against the appointment of chaplains for Congress and the armed forces. He felt it would produce religious exclusion but not political harmony.
Between 1834 and 1835, he sold 25% of his slaves to make up for financial losses on his plantation.Madison lived until 1836, increasingly ignored by the new leaders of the American polity. He died at Montpelier on June 28, as the last of the Founding Fathers. He was buried in the Madison Family Cemetery at Montpelier.
In 1842, the Montpelier mansion was sold and by 1844 his plantation lands were sold to Henry W. Moncure. Half of Madison's slaves were leased to Moncure, while the other half were inherited by Dolley Madison, John Payne Todd, and James Madison, Jr.. Between 1845 and 1849 Todd sold numerous slaves; by 1851 he retained only 15 at his residence. By 1850, the Montpelier plantation was a "ghost of its former self". In 1851, Montpelier was owned by an Englishman Thomas Thorton; 40 slaves remained.
The historian Garry Wills wrote:
George F. Will once wrote that if we truly believed that the pen is mightier than the sword, our nation s capital would have been called Madison, D.C. , instead of Washington, D.C.
Madison's writings still receive attention and shape the debate over human rights among different classes of citizens in the 21st century. Madison appears to have anticipated the problem of a strong majority that would demand to impose its will upon a weaker minority by popular vote. Madison in The Federalist Papers, No. 51, wrote:
Montpelier, his family's estate and his home in Orange, Virginia, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
- Many counties, several towns, cities, educational institutions, a mountain range and a river are named after Madison.
Madison Cottage in New York City was named in his honor shortly after his death. It later became Madison Square, the center of numerous landmarks.
- , the standard scholarly biography
- Single volume condensation of his 6-vol biography
- Brookhiser, Richard. James Madison (Basic Books; 2011) 287 pages
- Gutzman, Kevin. James Madison and the Making of America (St. Martin's Press; 2012) 432 pages
- , recent scholarly biography
- Rutland, Robert A. ed. James Madison and the American Nation, 1751 1836: An Encyclopedia (Simon & Schuster, 1994).
- Rutland, Robert A., James Madison: The Founding Father (University of Missouri Press, 1987).
- Short bio.
- Adams, Henry. History of the United States during the Administrations of James Madison (5 vol 1890 91; 2 vol Library of America, 1986). ISBN 0-940450-35-6 Table of contents
- Wills, Garry. Henry Adams and the Making of America (Houghton Mifflin, 2005). a close reading of Adams
- Banning, Lance. Jefferson & Madison: Three Conversations from the Founding (Madison House, 1995).
- Banning, Lance. The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic (Cornell Univ. Press, 1995). online ACLS History e-Book.
- Brant, Irving. James Madison and American Nationalism. (1968), short survey with primary sources
- Elkins, Stanley M.; McKitrick, Eric. The Age of Federalism (Oxford Univ. Press, 1995); 925pp. most detailed analysis of the politics of the 1790s. online edition
- Gabrielson, Teena, James Madison s Psychology of Public Opinion, Political Research Quarterly, 62 (Sept. 2009), 431 44.
- Kasper, Eric T. To Secure the Liberty of the People: James Madison's Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court's Interpretation (Northern Illinois University Press, 2010) online review
- Kernell, Samuel, ed. James Madison: the Theory and Practice of Republican Government (Stanford U. Press, 2003).
- Kester, Scott J. The Haunted Philosophe: James Madison, Republicanism, and Slavery (Lexington Books, 2008) 132 pp. isbn 978-0-7391-2174-0
- Labunski, Richard. James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights (Oxford U. P., 2006).
- Matthews, Richard K. If Men Were Angels : James Madison and the Heartless Empire of Reason (U. Press of Kansas, 1995).
- McCoy, Drew R. The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (W.W. Norton, 1980). mostly economic issues.
- McCoy, Drew R. The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989). JM after 1816.
- Mu oz, Vincent Phillip. "James Madison's Principle of Religious Liberty," American Political Science Review 97,1(2003), 17 32. in JSTOR
- Read, James H. Power versus Liberty: Madison, Hamilton, Wilson and Jefferson (University Press of Virginia, 2000).
- Riemer, Neal. "The Republicanism of James Madison," Political Science Quarterly, 69,1(1954), 45 64 in JSTOR
- Riemer, Neal. James Madison: Creating the American Constitution (Congressional Quarterly, 1986).
- Rosen, Gary. American Compact: James Madison and the Problem of Founding (University Press of Kansas, 1999).
- Rutland, Robert A. The Presidency of James Madison (Univ. Press of Kansas, 1990). scholarly overview of his two terms.
Scarberry, Mark S. "John Leland and James Madison: Religious Influence on the Ratification of the Constitution and on the Proposal of the Bill of Rights," Penn State Law Review, Vol. 113, No. 3 (April 2009), 733-800.
- Sheehan, Colleen A. "The Politics of Public Opinion: James Madison's 'Notes on Government'," William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. v49 #3 (1992), 609 627. in JSTOR
- Sheehan, Colleen. "Madison and the French Enlightenment," William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. v59#4 (Oct. 2002), 925 956. in JSTOR.
- Sheehan, Colleen. "Madison v. Hamilton: The Battle Over Republicanism and the Role of Public Opinion," American Political Science Review 98,3(2004), 405 424. in JSTOR
- Sheehan, Colleen."Madison Avenues," Claremont Review of Books (Spring 2004), online.
- Sheehan, Colleen."Public Opinion and the Formation of Civic Character in Madison's Republican Theory," Review of Politics 67,1(Winter 2005), 37 48. in JSTOR
- Sorenson, Leonard R. Madison on the "General Welfare" of America: His Consistent Constitutional Vision (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1995).
- Stagg, John C. A. "James Madison and the 'Malcontents': The Political Origins of the War of 1812," William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. 33,4(Oct. 1976), 557 585. in JSTOR
- Stagg, John C. A. "James Madison and the Coercion of Great Britain: Canada, the West Indies, and the War of 1812," in William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. 38,1(Jan. 1981), 3 34. in JSTOR
- Stagg, John C. A. Mr. Madison's War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American republic, 1783 1830 (Princeton, 1983).
- Stagg, John C. A. Borderlines in Borderlands: James Madison and the Spanish-American Frontier, 1776 1821 (2009)
- Vile, John R. William D. Pederson, Frank J. Williams, eds. James Madison: Philosopher, Founder, and Statesman (Ohio University Press, 2008) 302 pp. ISBN 978-0-8214-1832-1 online review
- Wood, Gordon S. "Is There a 'James Madison Problem'?" in Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different (Penguin Press, 2006a), 141 72.
- Wood, Gordon S. "Without Him, No Bill of Rights: James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights by Richard Labunski", The New York Review of Books (November 30, 2006b). online
James Madison: A Resource Guide at the Library of Congress
James Madison at the White House
American President: James Madison (1751 1836) at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia
James Madison at the Online Library of Liberty, Liberty Fund
Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785) at the Religious Movements Homepage Project, University of Virginia
The Papers of James Madison at the Avalon Project
James Madison Museum, Orange, Virginia
Montpelier, home of James Madison
James Madison at C-SPAN's American Presidents: Life Portraits
Jefferson and Madison at C-SPAN's American Writers: A Journey Through History
- ''Booknotes'' interview with William Lee Miller on ''The Business of May Next: James Madison and the Founding'', June 14, 1992.
- ''Booknotes'' interview with Lance Banning on ''The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic'', February 11, 1996.
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