Bettye Kearse Biography & Facts
James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He 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.
Born into a prominent Virginia planter family, Madison served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Continental Congress during and after the American Revolutionary War. Disillusioned by the weak national government established by the Articles of Confederation, he helped organize the Constitutional Convention, which produced a new constitution. Madison's Virginia Plan served as the basis for the Constitutional Convention's deliberations, and he was one of the most influential individuals at the convention. He became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify the Constitution, and he joined with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in writing The Federalist Papers, a series of pro-ratification essays that was one of the most influential 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 and organized the Democratic–Republican Part in opposition to Hamilton's Federalist Party. After Jefferson was elected president, Madison served as his Secretary of State from 1801 to 1809. In that position, he supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States.
Madison won the 1808 presidential election. After diplomatic protests and a trade embargo failed to end British seizures of American shipping, he led the United States into the War of 1812. The war was an administrative morass and ended inconclusively, but many Americans saw it as a successful "second war of independence" against Britain. As the war progressed, Madison was re-elected in 1812, albeit by a smaller margin to the 1808 election. 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 war, Madison's presidency added 23 million acres of Native American land to the United States.
Madison retired from public office after concluding his presidency in 1817 and died in 1836. Like Jefferson and Washington, Madison was a wealthy slave owner who never privately reconciled his republican beliefs with his slave ownership. Forced to pay debts, he never freed his slaves. Madison is considered one of the most important Founding Fathers of the United States, and historians have generally ranked him as an above-average president.
Early life and education
James Madison, Jr. was born on March 16, 1751 (March 5, 1750, Old Style) at Belle Grove Plantation near Port Conway in the Colony of Virginia, to James Madison Sr. and Nelly Conway Madison. His family had lived in Virginia since the mid-1600s. Madison grew up as the oldest of twelve children, with seven brothers and four sisters, though only six lived to adulthood. His father was a tobacco planter who grew up at a plantation, then called Mount Pleasant, which he had inherited upon reaching adulthood. With an estimated 100 slaves and a 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) plantation, Madison's father was the largest landowner and a leading citizen in Piedmont. Madison's maternal grandfather was a prominent planter and tobacco merchant. In the early 1760s, the Madison family moved into a newly built house that they named Montpelier.
From age 11 to 16, Madison studied under Donald Robertson, a Scottish instructor who served as a tutor for several prominent planter families in the South. Madison learned mathematics, geography, and modern and classical languages—he became exceptionally proficient in Latin. At age 16, Madison returned to Montpelier, where he studied under the Reverend Thomas Martin to prepare for college. Unlike most college-bound Virginians of his day, Madison did not attend the College of William and Mary, where the lowland Williamsburg climate—thought to be more likely to harbor infectious disease—might have strained his delicate health. Instead, in 1769, he enrolled as an undergraduate at Princeton (then formally named the College of New Jersey).His studies at Princeton included Latin, Greek, theology, and the works of the Enlightenment. Great emphasis was placed on both speech and debate; Madison was a leading member of the American Whig–Cliosophic Society, which competed on campus with a political counterpart, the Cliosophic Society. During his time in Princeton, Madison's closest friend was future Attorney General William Bradford. Along with another classmate, Madison undertook an intense program of study and completed the college's three-year Bachelor of Arts degree in just two years, graduating in 1771. 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. He returned home to Montpelier in early 1772.Madison's ideas on philosophy and morality were strongly shaped by Witherspoon, who converted him to the philosophy, values, and modes of thinking of the Age of Enlightenment. Biographer Terence Ball wrote that at Princeton, Madison "was immersed in the liberalism of the Enlightenment, and converted to eighteenth-century political radicalism. From then on James Madison's theories would advance the rights of happiness of man, and his most active efforts would serve devotedly the cause of civil and political liberty."After returning to Montpelier, without a chosen career, Madison served as a tutor to his younger siblings. Madison began to study law books in 1773. He asked Princeton friend William Bradford, a law apprentice under Edward Shippen in Philadelphia, to send him an ordered written plan on reading law books. At the age of 22, there was no evidence that Madison, himself, made any effort to apprentice under any lawyer in Virginia. By 1783, he had acquired a good sense of legal publications. Madison saw himself as a law student but never as a lawyer—he never joined the bar or practiced. In his elder years, Madison was sensitive to the phrase "demi-Lawyer", or "half-Lawyer", a derisive term used to describe someone who read law books, but did not practice law. Following the Revolutionary War, Madison spent time at Montpelier in Virginia studying ancient democracies of the world in preparation for the Constitutional Convention.
American Revolution and Articles of Confederation
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