119 Facts About James Madison


James Madison was born into a prominent slave-owning planter family in Virginia.


James Madison served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Continental Congress during and after the American Revolutionary War.


James Madison's Virginia Plan was the basis for the convention's deliberations, and he was an influential voice at the convention.


James Madison 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.


James Madison emerged as an important leader in the House of Representatives and was a close adviser to President George Washington.


James Madison was re-elected in 1812, albeit by a smaller margin.


James Madison presided over the creation of the Second Bank of the United States and the enactment of the protective Tariff of 1816.


In 1783, to prevent a slave rebellion at Montpelier, James Madison freed one of his slaves.


James Madison's family had lived in Virginia since the mid-17th century.


James Madison's maternal grandfather, Francis Conway, was a prominent planter and tobacco merchant.


James Madison's father was a tobacco planter who grew up on a plantation, then called Mount Pleasant, which he inherited upon reaching adulthood.


James Madison grew up as the oldest of twelve children, with seven brothers and four sisters, though only six lived to adulthood.


From age 11 to 16, James Madison studied under Donald Robertson, a Scottish instructor who served as a tutor for several prominent planter families in the South.


James Madison learned mathematics, geography, and modern and classical languages, becoming exceptionally proficient in Latin.


At age 16, James Madison returned to Montpelier, where he studied under the Reverend Thomas Martin to prepare for college.


James Madison had contemplated either entering the clergy or practicing law after graduation but instead remained at Princeton to study Hebrew and political philosophy under the college's president, John Witherspoon.


James Madison began to study law books in 1773, asking his friend Bradford, a law apprentice, to send him a written plan of study.


James Madison had acquired an understanding of legal publications by 1783.


James Madison saw himself as a law student but not a lawyer; he did not apprentice himself to a lawyer and never joined the bar.


James Madison suffered from episodes of mental exhaustion and illness with associated nervousness, which often caused temporary short-term incapacity after periods of stress.


However, James Madison enjoyed good physical health until his final years.


James Madison believed that Parliament had overstepped its bounds by attempting to tax the American colonies, and he sympathized with those who resisted British rule.


James Madison believed these measures to be insufficient, and favored disestablishing the Anglican Church in Virginia; James Madison believed that tolerance of an established religion was detrimental not only to freedom of religion but because it encouraged excessive deference to any authority which might be asserted by an established church.


James Madison had proposed liberalizing the article on religious freedom, but the larger Virginia Convention stripped the proposed constitution of the more radical language of "free expression" of faith to the less controversial mention of highlighting "tolerance" within religion.


James Madison again served on the Council of State, from 1777 to 1779, when he was elected to the Second Continental Congress, the governing body of the United States.


Frustrated by the failure of the states to supply needed requisitions, James Madison proposed to amend the Articles of Confederation to grant Congress the power to independently raise revenue through tariffs on imports.


James Madison believed that direct democracy caused social decay and that a Republican government would be effective against partisanship and factionalism.


James Madison was particularly troubled by laws that legalized paper money and denied diplomatic immunity to ambassadors from other countries.


James Madison was concerned about the lack of ability in Congress to capably create foreign policy, protect American trade, and foster the settlement of the lands between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.


James Madison especially sought out works on international law and the constitutions of "ancient and modern confederacies" such as the Dutch Republic, the Swiss Confederation, and the Achaean League.


James Madison came to believe that the United States could improve upon past republican experiments by its size which geographically combined 13 colonies; with so many distinct interests competing against each other, Madison hoped to minimize the abuses of majority rule.


James Madison opposed the proposal by John Jay that the United States concede claims to the river for 25 years, and, according to historian Ralph Ketcham, Madison's desire to fight the proposal was a major motivation in his to return to Congress in 1787.


The Virginia Plan did not explicitly lay out the structure of the executive branch, but James Madison himself favored a strong single executive.


James Madison was a defender of federal veto rights and, according to historian Ron Chernow "pleaded at the Constitutional Convention that the federal government should possess a veto over state laws".


James Madison became a key adviser to Washington, who valued James Madison's understanding of the Constitution.


James Madison helped Washington write his first inaugural address and prepared the official House response to Washington's speech.


James Madison played a significant role in establishing and staffing the three Cabinet departments, and his influence helped Thomas Jefferson become the first Secretary of State.


Hamilton's plan favored Northern speculators and was disadvantageous to states, such as Virginia, that had already paid off most of their debt; James Madison emerged as one of the principal Congressional opponents of the plan.


James Madison believed that the enumeration of specific rights would fix those rights in the public mind and encourage judges to protect them.


James Madison's amendments contained numerous restrictions on the federal government and would protect, among other things, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to peaceful assembly.


James Madison proposed an amendment to prevent states from abridging "equal rights of conscience, or freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases".


James Madison's amendments were mostly adopted by the House of Representatives as proposed, but the Senate made several changes.


James Madison was disappointed that the Bill of Rights did not include protections against actions by state governments, but the passage of the document mollified some critics of the original constitution and shored up his support in Virginia.


One faction, led by Jefferson and James Madison, broadly represented Southern interests and sought close relations with France.


Therefore, they opposed Hamilton's plan and James Madison argued that under the Constitution, Congress did not have the power to create a federally empowered national bank.


When Hamilton submitted his Report on Manufactures, which called for federal action to stimulate the development of a diversified economy, James Madison challenged Hamilton's proposal.


James Madison believed that a trade war with Britain would probably succeed, and would allow Americans to assert their independence fully.


The British West Indies, James Madison maintained, could not live without American foodstuffs, but Americans could easily do without British manufacturers.


James Madison subsequently helped to establish the modern image of the first lady of the United States as an individual who has a leading role in the social affairs of the nation.


Washington chose to retire after serving two terms and, in advance of the 1796 presidential election, James Madison helped convince Jefferson to run for the presidency.


James Madison, meanwhile, had declined to seek re-election to the House, and he returned to Montpelier.


James Madison believed that the Alien and Sedition Acts formed a dangerous precedent, by giving the government the power to look past the natural rights of its people in the name of national security.


James Madison rejected this view of nullification and urged that states respond to unjust federal laws through interposition, a process by which a state legislature declared a law to be unconstitutional but did not take steps to actively prevent its enforcement.


James Madison issued the Report of 1800, which attacked the Alien and Sedition Acts as unconstitutional.


James Madison was one of two major influences in Jefferson's Cabinet, the other being Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin.


James Madison was appointed secretary of state despite lacking foreign policy experience.


In 1802, Jefferson and James Madison sent Monroe, a sympathetic fellow Virginian, to France to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans, which controlled access to the Mississippi River and thus was immensely important to the farmers of the American frontier.


James Madison convinced Jefferson to refrain from proposing the amendment, and the administration ultimately submitted the Louisiana Purchase Treaty for approval by the Senate, without an accompanying constitutional amendment.


Unlike Jefferson, James Madison was not seriously concerned with the constitutionality of the purchase.


James Madison believed that the circumstances did not warrant a strict interpretation of the Constitution, because the expansion was in the country's best interest.


James Madison believed that economic pressure could force the British to end their seizure of American shipped goods, and he and Jefferson convinced Congress to pass the Embargo Act of 1807, which banned all exports to foreign nations.


James Madison became the target of attacks from Congressman John Randolph, a leader of a faction of the party known as the tertium quids.


The Federalist Party mustered little strength outside New England, and James Madison easily defeated Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in the general election.


James Madison's inauguration took place on March 4,1809, in the House chamber of the US Capitol.


Unlike Jefferson, who enjoyed relatively unified support, James Madison faced political opposition from previous political allies such as Monroe and Clinton.


James Madison eventually chose not to nominate Gallatin, keeping him in the treasury department.


James Madison settled instead for Robert Smith, the brother of Maryland Senator Samuel Smith, to be the secretary of state.


However, for the next two years, James Madison performed most of the job of the secretary of state due to Smith's incompetence.


Early in his presidency, James Madison sought to continue Jefferson's policies of low taxes and a reduction of the national debt.


In 1811, Congress allowed the charter of the First Bank of the United States to lapse after James Madison declined to take a strong stance on the issue.


Congress had repealed the Embargo Act of 1807 shortly before James Madison became president, but troubles with the British and French continued.


James Madison settled on a new strategy that was designed to pit the British and French against each other, offering to trade with whichever country would end their attacks against American shipping.


James Madison accepted Napoleon's proposal in the hope that it would convince the British to finally end their policy of commercial warfare.


On June 1,1812, James Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war, stating that the United States could no longer tolerate Britain's "state of war against the United States".


James Madison asked Congress to quickly put the country "into an armor and an attitude demanded by the crisis", specifically recommending expansion of the army and navy.


James Madison ordered three landed military spearhead incursions into Canada, starting from Fort Detroit, designed to loosen British control around American-held Fort Niagara and destroy the British supply lines from Montreal.


Hull was court-martialed for cowardness, but James Madison intervened and saved him from being shot.


James Madison received 128 electoral votes to 89 for Clinton.


James Madison, who had earlier inspected Winder's army, escaped British capture by fleeing to Virginia on a fresh horse, though the British captured Washington and burned many of its buildings, including the White House.


Just more than a month later, James Madison learned that his negotiators led by John Quincy Adams had concluded the Treaty of Ghent on December 24,1814, which ended the war.


James Madison quickly sent the treaty to the Senate, which ratified it on February 16,1815.


James Madison hastened the decline of the Federalists by adopting several programs he had previously opposed.


James Madison called for increased spending on the army and the navy, a tariff designed to protect American goods from foreign competition, and a constitutional amendment authorizing the federal government to fund the construction of internal improvements such as roads and canals.


James Madison approved federal spending on the Cumberland Road, which provided a link to the country's western lands; still, in his last act before leaving office, he blocked further federal spending on internal improvements by vetoing the Bonus Bill of 1817 arguing that it unduly exceeded the limits of the General Welfare Clause concerning such improvements.


On September 30,1809, little more than six months into his first term, James Madison agreed to the Treaty of Fort Wayne, negotiated and signed by Indiana Territory's Governor Harrison.


Privately, James Madison did not believe American Indians could be fully assimilated to the values of Euro-American culture.


James Madison feared that Native Americans had too great an influence on the settlers they interacted with, who in his view was "irresistibly attracted by that complete liberty, that freedom from bonds, obligations, duties, that absence of care and anxiety which characterize the savage state".


James Madison left office as a popular president; former president Adams wrote that James Madison had "acquired more glory, and established more union, than all his three predecessors, Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, put together".


When James Madison left office in 1817 at age 65, he retired to Montpelier, not far from Jefferson's Monticello.


James Madison's plantation experienced a steady financial collapse, due to price declines in tobacco and his stepson's mismanagement.


James Madison remained out of the public debate over the Missouri Compromise, though he privately complained about the North's opposition to the extension of slavery.


James Madison had warm relations with all four of the major candidates in the 1824 presidential election, but, like Jefferson, largely stayed out of the race.


In 1826, after the death of Jefferson, James Madison was appointed as the second rector of the university.


James Madison retained the position as college chancellor for ten years until his death in 1836.


In 1829, at the age of 78, James Madison was chosen as a representative to the Virginia Constitutional Convention for revision of the commonwealth's constitution.


James Madison made modest gains but was disappointed at the failure of Virginians to extend suffrage to all white men.


James Madison resorted to modifying letters and other documents in his possession, changing days and dates, and adding and deleting words and sentences.


James Madison was one of the last prominent members of the Revolutionary War generation to die.


Regardless of his own religious beliefs, James Madison believed in religious liberty, and he advocated for Virginia's disestablishment of religious institutions sponsored by the state.


James Madison opposed the appointments of chaplains for Congress and the armed forces, arguing that the appointments produce religious exclusion as well as political disharmony.


James Madison was born into a plantation society that relied on slave labor, and both sides of his family profited from tobacco farming.


James Madison believed slavery was incompatible with American Revolutionary principles, though he owned over one hundred African American slaves.


James Madison grew up on Montpelier, his family's plantation in Virginia.


In 1783, fearing the possibility of a slave rebellion at Montpelier, James Madison emancipated one slave, Billey, selling him into a seven-year apprentice contract.


James Madison inherited Montpelier and its more than one hundred slaves, after his father's death in 1801.


That same year, James Madison was appointed Secretary of State by President Jefferson, and he moved to Washington DC, running Montpelier from afar making no effort to free his slaves.


James Madison ordered Sawney by letter to ready fields for growing apples, corn, tobacco, and Irish potatoes.


James Madison called slavery "the most oppressive dominion" that ever existed, and he had a "lifelong abhorrence" for it.


In 1785 James Madison spoke in the Virginia Assembly favoring a bill that Thomas Jefferson had proposed for the gradual abolition of slavery, and he helped defeat a bill designed to outlaw the manumission of individual slaves.


James Madison believed that this solution offered a gradual, long-term, but potentially feasible means of eradicating slavery in the United States.


James Madison nevertheless thought that peaceful co-existence between the two racial groups could eventually be achieved in the long run.


James Madison initially opposed the Constitution's 20-year protection of the foreign slave trade, but he eventually accepted it as a necessary compromise to get the South to ratify the document.


James Madison proposed that apportionment in the House of Representatives be according to each state's free and enslaved population, eventually leading to the adoption of the Three-fifths Compromise.


Law professor Noah Feldman writes that James Madison "invented and theorized the modern ideal of an expanded, federal constitution that combines local self-government with an overarching national order".


In 1968, Henry Steele Commager and Richard B Morris said the conventional view of Madison was of an "incapable President" who "mismanaged an unnecessary war".


James Madison did more than most, and did some things better than any.


James Madison, portrayed by Burgess Meredith, is a key protagonist in the 1946 Hollywood film Magnificent Doll, which focuses on a fictionalized account of Dolley James Madison's romantic life.


James Madison is portrayed in the popular musical Hamilton, played by Joshua Henry in the original 2013 Vassar version and then revised by Okieriete Onaodowan for the 2015 Broadway opening.


The James Madison Memorial Building is part of the United States Library of Congress and serves as the official memorial to Madison.