Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum
   You are in: Museum of History >> Hall of USA >> US Constitution >> James Madison



Dad, What is wrong with the House of Representatives?


James Madison

1751 - 1836

Virginia Delegate

James Madison, considered the Father of the Constitution of the United States, is considered by many to be its foremost architect. He was a leading theorist of republican government and was one of the founders of the Jeffersonian Republican Party in the 1790s. In 1809, he became the fourth president of the United States.

Madison, the son of a wealthy planter, had depended on a system of slavery that he was never able to reconcile with his republican ideals. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1771, and in 1776 he was elected to the Virginia Convention. When called to consider the relationship of the colonies to Great Britain, he strongly urged independence.

As the American Revolution approached, Madison served on the Orange County Committee of Safety. Two years later he was elected to the Virginia convention that voted for independence and that drafted a constitution for the new state. In the debates on the constitution, he successfully changed a clause guaranteeing religious toleration into a general statement of "liberty of conscience for all." During 1778 and 1779 he served on the council of state under governors Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.

Elected to the Continental Congress in December 1779, Madison became a leader of the so-called nationalist group, which advocated a strong central government. By the time he retired from Congress in 1783, he was regarded as its best-informed and most effective legislator and debater. Three years in the Virginia legislature, 1784 to 1786, convinced him that the Articles of Confederation were too weak to bind the states together in the face of domestic and foreign threats.

At the Annapolis Convention in 1786, Madison took a lead in the call for the Constitutional Convention that met the following year in Philadelphia. It was there that he was a persuasive proponent of an independent federal court system, a strong executive branch, and a two-sided legislature with terms of differing length and representation according to population. Working with other proponents of a strong central government, Madison was largely instrumental in persuading Congress to summon a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation, or federal constitution. At the convention, which met in May 1787 in Philadelphia, Madison played a leading role. He drafted the Virginia Plan that became the basis for the structure of the new government.

In accordance with his views, the Constitution provided for a separation of powers with a system of checks and balances. Madison was responsible for the creation of a strong executive branch with veto powers and a judiciary branch with power to override state laws. His journal of the proceedings (http://members.aol.com/Cornettes), published in 1840, constitutes the sole record of the debates. Together with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, he drafted essays in the Federalist series in defense of the Constitution to rebut those fearful of centralized power. His argument that liberty would be more secure with a larger, unified political entity rather than small ones, reasoning that no group would be able to form an absolute majority, has been confirmed by subsequent experience. At the Virginia ratifying convention in 1788, he won a dramatic debate with Patrick Henry, one of the opponents of the proposed Constitution.

While serving in the new House of Representatives of the United States, Madison sponsored the Bill of Rights. This action fulfilled a pledge he had made during the fight over ratification, when it was charged that the Constitution failed to protect individual rights. He acted as one of President George Washington's chief advisors in inaugurating the new government.

In 1791 he broke with Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists, opposing the fiscal policy of the Washington administration. He joined Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe in founding the Republican Party to counteract the centralizing and aristocratic tendencies of the Federalists then in power. During 1794, a period of political discouragement, Madison found happiness in his marriage to a lively widow, Dolley Payne Todd, who is especially remembered for her charm as a hostess during his presidency.

Madison left Congress in disgust in 1797. As a private citizen he drafted the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 which protested the Alien and Sedition Acts sponsored by John Adams's administration. Seeing these acts as a severe threat to free government, Madison subsequently argued that a free press was responsible "for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression."

In 1799 and 1800, he served in the Virginia legislature. In 1801, Madison was appointed Secretary of State by the new President, Jefferson. These two men, along with the new Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, formed a Republican triumvirate that led the nation for the next eight years. Madison adroitly guided the negotiations that resulted in the Louisiana Purchase and supported American suppression of the Barbary pirates in the Tripolitan War. As a result of the war between France and Britain, when confronted by overwhelming British naval power, Madison supported the Embargo Act (1807), forbidding American ships to trade abroad. The unexpected capacity of the belligerents to replace American trade and substantial evasions of the law by American merchants made the embargo a failure.

Elected president in 1809 with 122 electoral votes, versus 47 votes for the Federalist candidate Charles Pinckney, Madison approved the repeal of the embargo, by which Jefferson had tried to avoid war, and invoked a ban on trade with the warring European powers. Tensions between the United States and Britain continued, however, and both the Federalists and members of his own party increasingly criticized Madison’s conduct of foreign policy. Furthermore, the unity that the Democratic-Republican Party had experienced under Jefferson was diminished under Madison's less charismatic leadership and reduced even further in the face of the continuing dilemmas posed by the Napoleonic Wars. Despite Gallatin's skillful leadership of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Madison's own prestige as an elder statesman, the diplomatic situation frequently thwarted the plans and policies of the Madison administration.

In 1812 Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war against Great Britain. On the day that war was declared, June 18, 1812, the British repealed their trade restrictions (Orders in Council). The War of 1812 was badly managed by Secretary of War John Armstrong, who failed to take seriously the threat of a British invasion. Although Madison was reelected President that year, factious strife within his own party and a determined (some thought, treasonous) opposition from the Federalists in New England plagued him throughout the War of 1812.

In domestic affairs Madison yielded to the rising tide of nationalist sentiment. Before leaving office he signed a bill for a protective tariff and agreed to the chartering of a national bank (the Second Bank of the United States), a measure he had vehemently opposed in 1791. In foreign affairs his most important action after the war was to negotiate the Rush-Bagot Agreement for permanent demilitarization of the frontier between the U.S. and Canada. The agreement was ratified after Madison left office.

Handing over the Presidency to yet another member of the so-called Virginia dynasty, James Monroe, Madison retired in 1817 to his Virginia estate, Montpelier. He avoided further participation in party politics but did express his support for President Andrew Jackson when South Carolina revived the controversy over nullification of federal laws in 1832. He subsequently helped Jefferson found the University of Virginia and served as its rector in 1826. Madison served Monroe as a foreign policy advisor. He strongly resisted the nullification movement of 1830-33, denying that he and Jefferson had advocated nullification in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and extolled instead the benefits of union for the United States. Bedridden in his last years, Madison died on June 28, 1836.

Madison Letter Signed, 3 pages 4th, Washington, Dec. 5, 1808, to William Pinkney, Minister Plenipotentiary of the U.S. to England, telling him that the repeal of the Embargo has been taken up in the Senate. Re: discusses the reaction by Congress to the foreign affairs portion of President Jefferson's message to Congress. Resolutions proposed by Congress in reaction to Jefferson's message would preclude the question of a resort to war. Madison says the Senate is amending the embargo laws with the purpose of stopping the violations and evasions which have crippled its operations. A British council will try to make some of their orders less offensive to the U.S. but this may disappoint the British cabinet. Page 1, Page 2, and Page3.

 

 

Presidential Libraries

 

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

McKinley Memorial Library

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum - has research collections containing papers of Herbert Hoover and other 20th century leaders.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum - Repository of the records of President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt, managed by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library - preserves and makes available for research the papers, audiovisual materials, and memorabilia of Dwight and Mamie D. Eisenhower

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library

Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum

Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation

Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum

Jimmy Carter Library

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library - 40th President: 1981-1989.

George Bush Presidential Library

Start your search on James Madison.



Unauthorized Site: This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected, associated with or authorized by the individual, family, friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated sites that are related to this subject will be hyper linked below upon submission and Evisum, Inc. review.

Research Links

  • National Archives Constitution
  • The U.S. Constitution Online
  • The US Constitution Past, Present, and Future

    Copyright© 2000 by Evisum Inc.TM. All rights reserved.
    Evisum Inc.TM Privacy Policy

  • Search:

    About Us

     

     

    Image Use

    In this powerful, historic work, Stanley Yavneh Klos unfolds the complex 15-year U.S. Founding period revealing, for the first time, four distinctly different United American Republics.  This is history on a splendid scale -- a book about the not quite unified American Colonies and States that would eventually form a fourth republic, with only 11 states, the United States of America: We The People Click Here

     

    Childhood & Family

    Click Here

     

    Historic Documents

    Articles of Association

    Articles of Confederation 1775

    Articles of Confederation

    Article the First

    Coin Act

    Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence

    Emancipation Proclamation

    Gettysburg Address

    Monroe Doctrine

    Northwest Ordinance

    No Taxation Without Representation

    Thanksgiving Proclamations

    Mayflower Compact

    Treaty of Paris 1763

    Treaty of Paris 1783

    Treaty of Versailles

    United Nations Charter

    United States In Congress Assembled

    US Bill of Rights

    United States Constitution

    US Continental Congress

    US Constitution of 1777

    US Constitution of 1787

    Virginia Declaration of Rights

     

    Historic Events

    Battle of New Orleans

    Battle of Yorktown

    Cabinet Room

    Civil Rights Movement

    Federalist Papers

    Fort Duquesne

    Fort Necessity

    Fort Pitt

    French and Indian War

    Jumonville Glen

    Manhattan Project

    Stamp Act Congress

    Underground Railroad

    US Hospitality

    US Presidency

    Vietnam War

    War of 1812

    West Virginia Statehood

    Woman Suffrage

    World War I

    World War II

     

    Is it Real?



    Declaration of
    Independence

    Digital Authentication
    Click Here

     

    America’s Four Republics
    The More or Less United States

     
    Continental Congress
    U.C. Presidents

    Peyton Randolph

    Henry Middleton

    Peyton Randolph

    John Hancock

      

    Continental Congress
    U.S. Presidents

    John Hancock

    Henry Laurens

    John Jay

    Samuel Huntington

      

    Constitution of 1777
    U.S. Presidents

    Samuel Huntington

    Samuel Johnston
    Elected but declined the office

    Thomas McKean

    John Hanson

    Elias Boudinot

    Thomas Mifflin

    Richard Henry Lee

    John Hancock
    [
    Chairman David Ramsay]

    Nathaniel Gorham

    Arthur St. Clair

    Cyrus Griffin

      

    Constitution of 1787
    U.S. Presidents

    George Washington 

    John Adams
    Federalist Party


    Thomas Jefferson
    Republican* Party

    James Madison 
    Republican* Party

    James Monroe
    Republican* Party

    John Quincy Adams
    Republican* Party
    Whig Party

    Andrew Jackson
    Republican* Party
    Democratic Party


    Martin Van Buren
    Democratic Party

    William H. Harrison
    Whig Party

    John Tyler
    Whig Party

    James K. Polk
    Democratic Party

    David Atchison**
    Democratic Party

    Zachary Taylor
    Whig Party

    Millard Fillmore
    Whig Party

    Franklin Pierce
    Democratic Party

    James Buchanan
    Democratic Party


    Abraham Lincoln 
    Republican Party

    Jefferson Davis***
    Democratic Party

    Andrew Johnson
    Republican Party

    Ulysses S. Grant 
    Republican Party

    Rutherford B. Hayes
    Republican Party

    James A. Garfield
    Republican Party

    Chester Arthur 
    Republican Party

    Grover Cleveland
    Democratic Party

    Benjamin Harrison
    Republican Party

    Grover Cleveland 
    Democratic Party

    William McKinley
    Republican Party

    Theodore Roosevelt
    Republican Party

    William H. Taft 
    Republican Party

    Woodrow Wilson
    Democratic Party

    Warren G. Harding 
    Republican Party

    Calvin Coolidge
    Republican Party

    Herbert C. Hoover
    Republican Party

    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Democratic Party

    Harry S. Truman
    Democratic Party

    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Republican Party

    John F. Kennedy
    Democratic Party

    Lyndon B. Johnson 
    Democratic Party 

    Richard M. Nixon 
    Republican Party

    Gerald R. Ford 
    Republican Party

    James Earl Carter, Jr. 
    Democratic Party

    Ronald Wilson Reagan 
    Republican Party

    George H. W. Bush
    Republican Party 

    William Jefferson Clinton
    Democratic Party

    George W. Bush 
    Republican Party

    Barack H. Obama
    Democratic Party

    Please Visit

    Forgotten Founders
    Norwich, CT

    Annapolis Continental
    Congress Society


    U.S. Presidency
    & Hospitality

    © Stan Klos

     

     

     

     


    Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum