James Madison: Navigating America's Constitutional Journey
This above Video is a Documentary of James Madison
Born to James Madison Sr. and Elanor Rose Conway Madison, James Madison was a well-educated and well-mannered being. Thus he was loved to the fullest by Americans. Not just that, his unorthodox thinking, decision-making power, and efforts for the freedom of America made him one of the founding fathers of America and the Father of the Constitution as well.
Born at his maternal grandmother’s mansion, James Madison was the first child of his parents. He was raised on the family plantation located in Montpelier Virginia. When he was 18, he left Montpelier for education at the College of New Jersey. Today you know it as Princeton University. It is said that James Madison finished his four years course in just two years.
But Madison was always interested in the relationship between American colonies and Great Britain. Just to be clear, he was not fond of the taxation and the idea of the British ruling over America. So when the time came, he was ready to face the British in every way possible.
Virginia- 1775, Madison decided to pick up arms and joined the American Revolutionary War. He was appointed as Colonel in the Orange County Militia. Although Madison had a strong will to fight, but his physique was a great drawback to his will. Just 5’4” tall and often getting sick on the battlefield, Madison had to leave the revolutionary army pretty soon. But he was not done.
He now decided to overthrow the British reign politically and thus started his political career. In 1776, he represented Orange County at the Virginia Constitution Convention to organize a new state government no longer under British rule. It was at this time when James Madison found his lifelong friend in Thomas Jefferson.
It was May 1787 and delegates from each state united at Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. This is where James Madison came forward with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. They contributed with 85 essays for the Constitution of America and 29 of these 85 essays were written by James Madison. This gave a new identity to James Madison and now he was known as Father of the Constitution.
Not just this, there needed to be rectification in the constitution and James Madison yet again worked on the changes. Those who supported the Constitution were called Federalists and those who opposed it were called Anti-Federalists.
From 1789 -1797, James Madison got elected to the newly formed House of Representatives. At this time, Madison worked in Congress by drafting the Bill of Rights. A Bill of Rights was a group of 10 amendments to the Constitution that spelled out fundamental rights. Some of the rights enjoyed by the Americans today like freedom of speech and religion are directly the work and broad mindset of James Madison.
But each coin has two sides, It was also at this time when James Madison and Thomas Jefferson had most of the conflicts and debates with other Federalists on federal debt and power. The biggest one was the debate with Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton on the proposal of a national bank. Alexander Hamilton also worked quite hard for the establishment of the National Bank.
Time passed by and it was 1792, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party. This was the first opposition political party officially formed. James Madison Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe were the only Democratic-Republicans who ever became the Presidents of America as the party dissolved by 1820.
It was 1794 and James Madison felt a need for a partner. Just like his friend Thomas Jefferson, James also married a young widow. Dolley Payne Todd or Dolley Madison was 17 years younger than James Madison at their wedding time. She also served as the official hostess of President Jefferson. The couple was hardly ever seen apart as both of them were quite different from one another. Guess what they say is true, opposites do attract.
The friendship between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison was strong. When Thomas Jefferson got elected as president in 1801, he appointed James Madison as Secretary of the State. As Secretary of the State, James Madison helped Thomas Jefferson in The Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of America.
It was a time of election in 1808 and James Madison defeated the Federalist candidate Charles Coteswoth Pinckney. James Madison now became the fourth president of America. But he continued to face troubles from foreign lands. Britain and France were attacking the American Ships at sea and the British were supporting American Indians in battles against U.S. settlers.
As the president of America, it was impossible for James Madison to let this slide. He issued a war proclamation against the British in 1812. But America was not ready for this war. The American army back then was not funded enough and well prepared as it is today. Also, many states were not in support of this war. Many individuals and leaders also called this as “Mr. Madison’s War”. Even after such major complications, Madison ordered the troops to march toward the battlefield.
America got defeated most of the time on the battlefield at both land and sea. While the war still continued, James Madison again ran for president against DeWitt Clinton and won. But this victory was not enough.
Even after being elected for the second time as president of America, James Madison had to feel the heat of others. He was often blamed for the losses America encountered. He was also criticized for the war and humiliation as he was advised not to go to war in those circumstances. The trade also stopped between Europe and America and this was hurting both American Economy and American Merchants.
What’s more, the British invaded in August 1814 and burned down many infrastructures including the White House. Tired of war, America and Britain signed a treaty that ended the war in 1814. Treaty of Ghent was signed in December 1814 in Europe and once more peace was restored in America.
After serving as president for two terms, in 1817, James Madison felt a need to take rest as he was not feeling well now. This was the time when he retired and focused all his time on recovering from his disease. It is believed that he was in such a severe condition that he could not even move his fingers and was bedridden. Imagine, the man who wrote such a powerful constitution was lying on his bed powerless. At the age of 85, James Madison died in his bed at Montpelier because of heart failure.
James Madison once said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” America still remembers those wise words said by the Fourth President of America. Gone but not forgotten, James Madison still remains a source of inspiration, knowledge, and power for Americans.
Time Period : March 1809- March 1817
Vice President : George Clinton, Elbridge Gerry
Political Affiliation : Democratic-Republican
Predecessor : Thomas Jefferson
Successor : James Monroe
Time Period : May 1801- March 1809
Served Under : Thomas Jefferson
Predecessor : John Marshall
Successor : Robert Smith
Time Period : March 1789- March 1797
Constituency : 5th District and 15th District
Successor : John Dawson
Second Term : November 1786- October 1787
First Term : March 1781- November 1783
|Academic references on James Madison|
|1. “James Madison: A Biography” by Ralph Ketcham: This well-regarded biography offers a comprehensive and detailed study of James Madison’s life and his significant contributions to the United States.|
|2. “The Papers of James Madison”: This project, based at the University of Virginia, publishes James Madison’s papers and correspondence, providing valuable insights into his thoughts and actions.|
|3. “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” by Lynne Cheney: In this book, Lynne Cheney reexamines James Madison’s life and political career, shedding new light on his role as a founding father.|
|4. “James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation” by Jeff Broadwater: This academic work explores James Madison’s Virginia roots and his critical involvement in the nation’s founding.|
|5. “James Madison and the Making of America” by Kevin R. C. Gutzman: This scholarly book examines James Madison’s political philosophy and his role in shaping the U.S. Constitution.|
|6. “James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic” by Jack N. Rakove: This book provides a historical analysis of James Madison’s contributions to the establishment of the American republic.|
|7. “James Madison and the Spirit of Republican Self-Government” by Colleen A. Sheehan: This work delves into James Madison’s vision of republican self-government and its significance in American politics.|
|Quotes By James Madison|
|“Philosophy is common sense with big words.”|
|“The advancement of science and the diffusion of information is the best aliment to true liberty.”|
|“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”|
|“Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred”|
|“If we are to be one Nation in any respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other Nations. “|
This Article will answer your questions like:
- Who was James Madison?
- What was James Madison known for?
- What was James Madison’s famous quote?
- Who was James Madison’s true friend?
- Some facts about Jame Madison.