• Born: March 16th, 1751, Port Conway, VA
• Died: June 28th, 1836, Montpelier, VA
• Married to: Dolley Payne Todd Madison
• Children: none
• College: Princeton University
• Other occupations: Farmer, Lawyer, Congressman, Secretary of State
• Party affiliation: DemocraticRepublican
• Vice President: George Clinton and Elbridge Gerry
• Burial site: Montpelier, VA
James Madison, this country’s fourth president, was one of the youngest of the Revolutionary patriots. He was the author of the “Virginia Plan,” which proposed a government of three departments—legislative, executive and judicial—and furnished the basis for the Constitution of the United States as finally adopted.
Elected to the first Congress, he defended the Constitution throughout George Washington’s administration. He helped write the Bill of Rights.
Out of his leadership, in opposition to Hamilton’s financial proposals, came the development of the Republican or Jeffersonian Party. Jefferson made Madison his secretary of state.
Madison was elected president in 1808 and was reelected in 1812. He took office in the midst of controversies with England, caused by that nation’s blockades of France and the impressment of sailors from American ships when they were of British descent. This, and the British failure to recognize the United States’ naturalization laws, caused Madison to declare war on Britain. The conflict was to become known as The War of 1812.
The United States was not prepared for that war, and its forces were severely trounced as the British entered Washington and set fire to the White House and the Capitol. The government fled to Virginia.
United States’ forces began fighting back, and a few notable naval and military victories, climaxed by General Andrew Jackson’s triumph at the Battle of New Orleans, convinced Americans that the War of 1812 was a glorious success. There was an upsurge of nationalism.
During this administration, Madison had seen Louisiana and Indiana become states, Decatur triumphing in Algiers, Tecumseh beaten at Tippecanoe by General William Henry Harrison, and John Marshall rendering his decisions as chief justice, which defined the scope of federal power.
Madison died June 28, 1836, and was buried near his home.