James Madison
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James Madison


James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman,
political theorist and the fourth President of the United States. 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 served as
a politician much of his adult life. 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. Circulated only in New York at the
time, they would later be considered among the most important treatises 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. As Jefferson’s Secretary of State, 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, 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.
Like other Virginia statesmen in the slave society, he was a slaveholder who inherited
his plantation known as Montpelier, and owned hundreds of slaves during his lifetime to
cultivate tobacco and other crops. Madison supported the Three-Fifths Compromise that
allowed three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves to be counted for representation. Early life and education
James Madison, Jr. was born at Belle Grove Plantation near Port Conway, Virginia on March
16, 1751,, 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 and his brother Reuben died in a dysentery epidemic that swept
through Orange County because of contaminated water.
His father, James Madison, Sr., was a tobacco planter who grew up on a plantation, then
called Mount Pleasant, in Orange County, Virginia, which he had inherited upon reaching adulthood.
He later acquired more property and slaves; with 5,000 acres, he became the largest landowner
and a leading citizen of Orange County, in the Piedmont. James Jr.’s mother, Nelly Conway
Madison, 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 élite. 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.”
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, where he became roommates and close friends
with Philip Freneau, later dubbed “the poet of the Revolution.” Indeed, Madison and Freneau
would have become brothers-in-law had Freneau’s favorite sister, Mary, accepted Madison’s
repeated proposals of marriage. But although Mary greatly admired and respected Madison,
she had determined to stay single—one way a woman of her intelligence and accomplishments
could hope to pursue her interests and remain independent in that era.
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; Madison helped found
the American Whig Society, in direct competition to fellow student Aaron Burr’s Cliosophic
Society. 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.
At a height of only five feet, four inches, and never weighing more than 100 pounds, he
was the smallest president. Religion
Although educated by Presbyterian clergymen, young Madison was an avid reader of English
deist tracts. Madison as an adult paid little attention to religious matters. Hutson says
that historians searching through Madison’s voluminous writings discover that after he
left college, “there is no trace, no clue as to his personal religious convictions.”
However, some scholars say he leaned toward deism.
Military service in the Revolutionary War After graduation from Princeton, young Madison
took an increasing interest in the relationship between the American colonies and Britain,
which deteriorated over the issue of British taxation. In 1774, Madison took a seat on
the local Committee of Safety, a patriot pro-revolution group that oversaw the local militia. This
was the first step in a life of public service that his family’s wealth allowed him to pursue.
He would not serve in combat as he was of very slight stature and weighed only about
100 pounds. Early political career As a young man during the American Revolutionary
War, Madison served in the Virginia state legislature, where he became known as a protégé
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, 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, 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 and points west—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 of Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland;
they too 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 believed had resumed
after the revolution and was nearing a tipping point. They were alarmed by Shays’ Rebellion.
Father of the Constitution The Articles of Confederation established
the United States as a confederation of sovereign states with a weak central government. This
arrangement did not work particularly well, and was even less successful after the war
was over. Congress had no power to tax, and as a result was unable to pay debts left over
from the Revolution. Madison and other nationalists, such as Washington and Alexander Hamilton,
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. Shays’
Rebellion is often cited as the event that forced the issue; Wood argues that many at
the time saw it as only the most extreme example of democratic excess. They 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 popular general 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, its use at the convention led many to call Madison
the “Father of the Constitution”. He was only 36 years old.
During the course of the Convention, Madison 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 various forms of government. 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 study 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 their 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 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. He believed the
solution was 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 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, 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. 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.
In terms of slavery and the Constitution, Madison viewed African American slaves as
an “unfortunate race” and believed their true nature was both human and property. On February
12, 1788, Madison in the Federalist Letter No. 54, stated that the Constitutional three-fifths
compromise clause was the best alternative for the slaves current condition and for determining
representation of citizens in Congress. Madison believed that slaves, as property, would be
protected by both their masters and the government. 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, 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 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, 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. The House
passed most of his slate of amendments, but rejected the idea of placing the amendments
in the body of the Constitution. Instead, it adopted 17 amendments to be attached separately
and sent this bill to the Senate. The Senate condensed this slate to eleven
amendments and removed the language that Madison had included to integrate them into the body
of the constitution. The Senate also added what became the Ninth Amendment, which was
not included in his original slate. To Madison’s deep disappointment, it excluded a proposed
amendment guaranteeing national sovereignty over the states. Some have argued that if
this amendment had been included the American Civil War could 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 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. All across the United States, voters divided for and
against the Treaty and other key issues, and thus became either Federalists or Jeffersonian
Republicans. Electoral History
1789 Madison was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
with 57.37% of the vote, defeating James Monroe. 1790
Madison was re-elected with 97.79% of the vote, defeating Monroe.
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”. 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”. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences in 1794. 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 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 his experience as president with a weak
national government during the War of 1812 caused Madison to appreciate the need for
a strong central government to aid national defense. At the time, he began to support
a national bank, a stronger navy, and a standing army.
The historian Gordon S. Wood says that Lance Banning, as in his Sacred Fire of Liberty,
is the “only present-day scholar to maintain that Madison did not change his views in the
1790s.” To reach that conclusion, Banning downplays Madison’s nationalism in the 1780s.
Wood notes that many historians struggle to understand Madison, but he looks at him within
his own times—as a nationalist but one with a different conception of what that meant
than the Federalists. He wanted to avoid a European-style government and always thought
that the embargo would ultimately have been successful. thus, Wood assesses Madison from
a different point of view. Gary Rosen and Banning use other approaches to suggest Madison’s
consistency. 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 26 year old widow, at
Harewood, in what is now Jefferson County, West Virginia. Madison had no children but
did adopt Todd’s one surviving son, John Payne Todd, 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. 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, 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 Habsburgs, 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 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 for France
in the New World. The warfare went badly and the troops were further decimated by yellow
fever. Napoleon gave up on thoughts of restoring the empire and 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 the second republic
in the western hemisphere. 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 was the party choice for president in 1808.
He was opposed by Rep. John Randolph, who had broken earlier with Jefferson and Madison.
The Republican Party Congressional caucus chose the candidate and easily selected Madison
over James Monroe. As the Federalist party by this time had largely collapsed outside
New England, Madison easily defeated Federalist Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.
Presidency 1809–1817 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, confidant,
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 was no longer
competitive outside a few strongholds. Some former members had joined Madison’s 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 of 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 “nonintercourse” 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 Foreign 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. In his Political Observations
from April 20, 1795 Madison had stated: Of all the enemies to public liberty war is,
perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and
taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.
In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing
out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are
added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism
may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out
of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both.
No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. 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, 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 European continent was once again embroiled
in 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. 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, 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. 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.” On March 3, 1815, the U.S.
Congress authorized deployment of naval power against Algiers, and two squadrons were assembled
and readied for war; the Second Barbary War would mark the beginning of the end for piracy
in that region. To most Americans, the quick succession of
events at the end of the war 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. Postwar economy and internal improvements
With peace finally established, Americans believed they had secured a solid independence
from Britain. The Federalist Party, which had called for secession over the war at the
Hartford Convention, dissolved and disappeared from politics. With Europe finally at peace,
the Era of Good Feelings described the prosperity and relatively equable political environment.
Some political contention continued, for instance, in 1816, two-thirds of the incumbents in Congress
were defeated for re-election after having voted to increase their salary. Madison approved
a Hamiltonian national bank, an effective taxation system based on tariffs, a standing
professional military, and the internal improvements championed by Henry Clay under his American
System. However, in his last act before leaving office, he vetoed the Bonus Bill of 1817,
which would have financed more internal improvements, including roads, bridges, and canals: Having considered the bill … I am constrained
by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling this bill with the Constitution of the United
States…. The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified … in the … Constitution,
and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated
powers. Madison rejected the view of Congress that
the General Welfare provision of the Taxing and Spending Clause justified the bill, stating: Such a view of the Constitution would have
the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined
and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms “common defense and general
welfare” embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust. Madison urged a variety of measures that he
felt were “best executed under the national authority,” including federal support for
roads and canals that would “bind more closely together the various parts of our extended
confederacy.” Wilkinson affair 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 Terre aux Boeufs on the Louisiana coast to protect the
U.S. from invasion. Wilkinson proved to be an incompetent general; many soldiers complained
that he was ineffectual: their tents were defective, and they became sick by malaria,
dysentery, and scurvy; dozens 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 had to decide whether to keep
or sack him. Like Jefferson, Madison chose to retain Wilkinson for political reasons,
as Wilkinson had influence as a Pennsylvania Republican. By retaining Wilkinson, both Jefferson
and Madison supported military leaders in both the Army and Navy for political reasons
rather than 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 the officer from active military service.
Indian policy Upon assuming office on March 4, 1809 James
Madison, in his first Inaugural Address to the nation, stated that the federal government’s
duty was to convert the American Indians by the “participation of the improvements of
which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state”. Like Jefferson, Madison
had a paternalistic attitude toward American Indians, encouraging the men to give up hunting
and become farmers. Although there are scant details, Madison often met with Southeastern
and Western Indians who included the Creek and Osage. As pioneers and settlers moved
West into large tracts of Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw territory, Madison ordered
the US Army to protect Native lands from intrusion by settlers, to the chagrin of his military
commander Andrew Jackson. Jackson wanted the President to ignore Indian pleas to stop the
invasion of their lands and resisted carrying out the president’s order. 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 European-American
settlers in Ohio, Indian rights to their lands had effectively become null and void.
Administration and cabinet Madison is the only president to have had
two vice-presidents die while in office. Judicial appointments Supreme Court
Madison appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
Gabriel Duvall – 1811 Joseph Story – 1812
Other courts 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
Louisiana – April 30, 1812 Indiana – December 11, 1816
Later life When Madison left office in 1817, he retired
to Montpelier, his tobacco plantation in Orange County, Virginia, not far from Jefferson’s
Monticello. He was 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,
aided by 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, told by his former 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. After
Madison’s death, Jennings was purchased in 1845 from Dolley Madison by arrangement with
the senator Daniel Webster, who enabled him to work off the cost and gain his freedom.
Jennings 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. Jennings said that if
a slave misbehaved, Madison would meet with the person privately to try to talk about
the behavior. 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 weighed
on him, and deteriorating mental and physical health would haunt him.
In his later years, Madison became extremely concerned about his historic legacy. He took
to modifying letters and other documents in his possession: 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 imitated Jefferson’s handwriting as well in making changes. “During the final six years of his life, amid
a sea of personal [financial] troubles that were threatening to engulf him…At times
mental agitation issued in physical collapse. For the better part of a year in 1831 and
1832 he was bedridden, if not silenced… Literally sick with anxiety, he began to despair
of his ability to make himself understood by his fellow citizens.” In 1826, after the death of Jefferson, Madison
was appointed as the second Rector of the University of Virginia. 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. Madison was very concerned about the continuing
issue of slavery in Virginia and the South. He believed that transportation of free American
blacks to Africa offered a solution, as promoted by the American Colonization Society. He told
Lafayette at the time of the convention that colonization would create a “rapid erasure
of the blot on our Republican character.” The British sociologist, Harriet Martineau,
visited with Madison during her tour of the United States in 1834. She characterized his
faith in colonization as the solution to slavery as “bizarre and incongruous.” Madison may
have sold or donated his gristmill in support of the ACS. The historian Drew R. McCoy believes
that “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.” Like most African Americans of the time,
Madison’s slaves wanted to remain in the U.S. where they had been born and believed their
work earned them citizenship; they resisted “repatriation”. 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, Madison 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, Dolley Madison sold the Montpelier
mansion, and in 1844 sold the extensive plantation lands to Henry W. Moncure. She leased half
of the remaining slaves to Moncure. The other half were inherited by her, her son John Payne
Todd, and James Madison, Jr., a nephew. 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 Thomas Thorton, an Englishman; he
held 40 slaves. Legacy
The historian Garry Wills wrote: Madison’s claim on our admiration does not
rest on a perfect consistency, any more than it rests on his presidency. He has other virtues.
… As a framer and defender of the Constitution he had no peer. … The finest part of Madison’s
performance as president was his concern for the preserving of the Constitution. … No
man could do everything for the country—not even Washington. Madison did more than most,
and did some things better than any. That was quite enough. 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 are studied for the debate over human rights among different classes
of citizens in the 21st century. Madison appears to have anticipated the danger of a strong
majority imposing its will on a weaker minority by popular vote. Madison, in The Federalist
Papers, in Federalist No. 51, wrote: It is of great importance in a republic not
only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the
society against the injustice of the other part… In a society under the forms of which
the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be
said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against
the violence of the stronger. Montpelier, his family’s plantation 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 County – lists counties named for
him Cities: e.g. Madison, Wisconsin
Named in his honor were the James Madison College of public policy at Michigan State
University; and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia; the James Madison
Institute honors his contributions to the Constitution.
The Madison Range was named in honor of the then U.S. Secretary of State by Meriwether
Lewis as the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through Montana in 1805. The Madison River
in southwestern Montana, was named in 1805 by Lewis & Clark.
Mount Madison in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in New Hampshire is named
for him. Two U.S. Navy ships have been named USS James
Madison and three as USS Madison. Madison’s portrait was on the U.S. $5000 bill. 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. In 1986, Congress created the James Madison
Memorial Fellowship Foundation as part of the bicentennial celebration of the Constitution.
The Foundation offers $24,000 graduate level fellowships to secondary teachers to undertake
a master’s degree which emphasizes the study of the Constitution. jamesmadison.gov
See also Report of 1800, produced by Madison to support
the Virginia Resolutions US Presidents on US postage stamps
History of Virginia on stamps List of civil rights leaders
List of Presidents of the United States Notes Bibliography
Biographies Brant, Irving. “James Madison and His Times”.
American Historical Review 57: 853–70. doi:10.2307/1844238. JSTOR 1844238. 
Brant, Irving. James Madison. 6 volumes. , the standard scholarly biography
Brant, Irving. The Fourth President; a Life of James Madison.  Single volume condensation
of his 6-vol biography Broadwater, Jeff. James Madison: A Son of
Virginia and a Founder of a Nation. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press,
2012. Brookhiser, Richard. James Madison 287 pages
Chadwick, Bruce. James and Dolley Madison: America’s First Power Couple 450 pages; detailed
popular history Cheney, Lynne. James Madison: A Life Reconsidered
564 pp. Gay, Sydney Howard. James Madison. Houghton,
Mifflin and Company, Boston. p. 342.  Ebook Gutzman, Kevin. James Madison and the Making
of America 432 pages Ketcham, Ralph. James Madison: A Biography.
Macmillan. , recent scholarly biography Rakove, Jack. James Madison and the Creation
of the American Republic. New York: Longman. ISBN 0-321-08797-6. 
Riemer, Neal. James Madison. Washington Square Press. 
Rutland, Robert A. ed. James Madison and the American Nation, 1751–1836: An Encyclopedia.
Rutland, Robert A. James Madison: The Founding Father. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.,
1987. ISBN 978-0-02-927601-3. Wills, Garry. James Madison. New York: Times
Books. ISBN 0-8050-6905-4.  Short bio. Zuchert, Michael. “Madison, James”. In Hamowy,
Ronald. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 311–2.
ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024. 
Analytic studies Adams, Henry. History of the United States
during the Administrations of James Madison. ISBN 0-940450-35-6 Table of contents
Wills, Garry. Henry Adams and the Making of America. a close reading of Adams Banning, Lance. Jefferson & Madison: Three
Conversations from the Founding. Banning, Lance. The Sacred Fire of Liberty:
James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic. online ACLS History e-Book.
James M. Banner Jr.. C. Vann Woodward, ed. Responses of the Presidents to Charges of
Misconduct. ISBN 0-440-05923-2.  Brant, Irving. James Madison and American
Nationalism., short survey with primary sources Elkins, Stanley M.; McKitrick, Eric. The Age
of Federalism; 925 pp. most detailed analysis of the politics of the 1790s. online edition
Gabrielson, Teena, “James Madison’s Psychology of Public Opinion,” Political Research Quarterly,
62, 431–44. Kasper, Eric T. To Secure the Liberty of the
People: James Madison’s Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court’s Interpretation online
review Kernell, Samuel, ed. James Madison: the Theory
and Practice of Republican Government. Kester, Scott J. The Haunted Philosophe: James
Madison, Republicanism, and Slavery 132 pp. ISBN 978-0-7391-2174-0
Labunski, Richard. James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights.
Matthews, Richard K. If Men Were Angels : James Madison and the Heartless Empire of
Reason. McCoy, Drew R. The Elusive Republic: Political
Economy in Jeffersonian America. mostly economic issues.
McCoy, Drew R. The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy. JM after
1816. Muñoz, Vincent Phillip. “James Madison’s
Principle of Religious Liberty,” American Political Science Review 97,1(2003), 17–32.
SSRN 512922 in JSTOR Read, James H. Power versus Liberty: Madison,
Hamilton, Wilson and Jefferson. 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.
Rosen, Gary. American Compact: James Madison and the Problem of Founding.
Rutland, Robert A. The Presidency of James Madison. ISBN 978-0700604654. 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, 733–800. SSRN 1262520
Sheehan, Colleen A. “The Politics of Public Opinion: James Madison’s ‘Notes on Government’,”
William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. v49 No. 3, 609–27. in JSTOR
Sheehan, Colleen. “Madison and the French Enlightenment,” William and Mary Quarterly
3rd ser. v59#4, 925–56. in JSTOR. Sheehan, Colleen. “Madison v. Hamilton: The
Battle Over Republicanism and the Role of Public Opinion,” American Political Science
Review 98,3(2004), 405–24. in JSTOR Sheehan, Colleen.”Madison Avenues,” Claremont
Review of Books, 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.
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.
Stagg, John C. A. Borderlines in Borderlands: James Madison and the Spanish-American Frontier,
1776–1821 Vile, John R. William D. Pederson, Frank J.
Williams, eds. James Madison: Philosopher, Founder, and Statesman 302 pp. ISBN 978-0-8214-1832-1
online review Weiner, Greg. Madison’s Metronome: The Constitution,
Majority Rule, and the Tempo of American Politics. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas,
2012. Wood, Gordon S. “Is There a ‘James Madison
Problem’?” in Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, 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. online
Primary sources Madison, James. Letters & Other Writings Of
James Madison Fourth President Of The United States. J.B. Lippincott & Co. 
Madison, James. Gaillard Hunt, ed., ed. The Writings of James Madison. G. P. Putnam’s
Sons.  Madison, James. William T. Hutchinson et al.,
eds., ed. The Papers of James Madison. Univ. of Chicago Press. 
Madison, James. Jacob E. Cooke, ed., ed. The Federalist. Wesleyan Univ. Press. ISBN 0-8195-6077-4. 
Madison, James. Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison.
W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-30405-1.  Madison, James. Marvin Myers, ed., ed. Mind
of the Founder: Sources of the Political Thought of James Madison. Univ. Press of New England.
ISBN 0-87451-201-8.  Madison, James. James M. Smith, ed., ed. The
Republic of Letters: The Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776–1826.
W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-03691-X.  Madison, James. Jack N. Rakove ed., ed. James
Madison, Writings. Library of America. ISBN 1-883011-66-3.  External links James Madison: A Resource Guide at the Library
of Congress The James Madison Papers, 1723–1836 at the
Library of Congress James Madison: Philosopher and Practitioner
of Liberal Democracy, symposium at the Library of Congress The Papers of James Madison, subset of Founders
Online from the National Archives James Madison at the Biographical Directory
of the United States Congress James Madison at Find a Grave
James Madison at the White House American President: James Madison 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 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
“Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison”, a National Park Service Teaching
with Historic Places lesson plan James Madison at C-SPAN’s American Presidents:
Life Portraits Jefferson and Madison at C-SPAN’s American
Writers: A Journey Through History Will, George F.. “Alumni who changed America,
and the world: #1 – James Madison 1771”. Princeton Alumni Weekly. 
Works by James Madison at Project Gutenberg 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.
James Madison, bust portrait miniature by Charles Wilson Peale From the Collections
at the Library of Congress

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