James Madison

James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751[lower-alpha 2]  June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Father who served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Madison is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

James Madison
Portrait by John Vanderlyn, 1816
4th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1809  March 4, 1817[1]
Vice President
Preceded byThomas Jefferson
Succeeded byJames Monroe
5th United States Secretary of State
In office
May 2, 1801  March 3, 1809[3]
PresidentThomas Jefferson
Preceded byJohn Marshall
Succeeded byRobert Smith
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia
In office
March 4, 1789  March 4, 1797[4]
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byJohn Dawson
Constituency5th district (1789–1793)
15th district (1793–1797)
Delegate from Virginia to the Congress of the Confederation
In office
November 6, 1786  October 30, 1787[5]
In office
March 1, 1781  November 1, 1783
Personal details
James Madison Jr.

(1751-03-16)March 16, 1751
Port Conway, Virginia, British America
DiedJune 28, 1836(1836-06-28) (aged 85)
Montpelier, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic–Republican
Height5 ft 4 in (163 cm)
(m. 1794)
EducationCollege of New Jersey
SignatureJames Madison signature

Madison was born into a prominent slave-owning planter family in Virginia. He served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Continental Congress during and after the American Revolutionary War. Dissatisfied with the weak national government established by the Articles of Confederation, he helped organize the Constitutional Convention, which produced a new constitution designed to strengthen republican government against democratic assembly. Madison's Virginia Plan was the basis for the convention's deliberations, and he was an influential voice at the convention. He became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify the Constitution and joined Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in writing The Federalist Papers, a series of pro-ratification essays that remains prominent among works of political science in American history. Madison emerged as an important leader in the House of Representatives and was a close adviser to President George Washington.

During the early 1790s, Madison opposed the economic program and the accompanying centralization of power favored by Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton. Alongside Thomas Jefferson, he organized the Democratic–Republican Party in opposition to Hamilton's Federalist Party. After Jefferson was elected president in 1800, Madison served as his Secretary of State from 1801 to 1809 and supported Jefferson in the case of Marbury v. Madison. While Madison was Secretary of State, Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, and later, as President, Madison oversaw related disputes in the Northwest Territories.

Madison was elected president in 1808. Motivated by desire to acquire land held by Britain, Spain, and Native Americans, and after diplomatic protests with a trade embargo failed to end British seizures of American shipped goods, Madison led the United States into the War of 1812. Although the war ended inconclusively, many Americans viewed the war's outcome as a successful "second war of independence" against Britain. Madison was re-elected in 1812, albeit by a smaller margin. The war convinced Madison of the necessity of a stronger federal government. He presided over the creation of the Second Bank of the United States and the enactment of the protective Tariff of 1816. By treaty or through war, Native American tribes ceded 26,000,000 acres (11,000,000 ha) of land to the United States under Madison's presidency.

Retiring from public office at the end of his presidency in 1817, Madison returned to his plantation, Montpelier, and died there in 1836. During his lifetime, Madison was a slave owner. In 1783, to prevent a slave rebellion at Montpelier, Madison freed one of his slaves. He did not free any slaves in his will. Among historians, Madison is considered one of the most important Founding Fathers of the United States. Leading historians have generally ranked him as an above-average president, although they are critical of his endorsement of slavery and his leadership during the War of 1812. Madison's name is commemorated in many landmarks across the nation, both publicly and privately, with prominent examples including Madison Square Garden, James Madison University, the James Madison Memorial Building, and the USS James Madison.

Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article James Madison, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.