James Madison, Father of the Constitution (1751-1836)

Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

–James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention on Control of the Military, June 16, 1788 in: History of the Virginia Federal Convention of 1788, vol. 1, p. 130 (H.B. Grigsby ed. 1890). (Google Books)

James Madison, 4th President of the United Sates, is known as “Father of the Constitution” and “Father of the Bill of Rights” (1751-1836)

James Madison, Father of the Constitution, 4th President of the United States. Portrait by John Vanderlyn

James Madison, Father of the Constitution, 4th President of the United States. Portrait by John Vanderlyn

Born March 16, 1751, Madison was brought up in Orange County, Virginia, and attended Princeton (then called the College of New Jersey). A student of history and government, well-read in law, he participated in the framing of the Virginia Constitution in 1776, served in the Continental Congress, and was a leader in the Virginia Assembly.

When delegates to the Constitutional Convention assembled at Philadelphia in 1787, the 36-year-old Madison took frequent and emphatic part in the debates.

Madison made a major contribution to the ratification of the Constitution by writing, with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, the Federalist Papers. In later years, when he was referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison protested that the document was not “the off-spring of a single brain,” but “the work of many heads and many hands.”

In Congress, he helped frame the Bill of Rights and enact the first revenue legislation. Out of his leadership in opposition to Hamilton’s financial proposals, which he felt would unduly bestow wealth and power upon northern financiers, came the development of the Republican, or Jeffersonian, Party.

Source: James Madison – White House

When James Madison’s second term as president ended in 1817, he and Dolley retired to Montpelier. In retirement Madison stayed active and interested in politics. In 1819 he founded the American Colonization Society dedicated to freeing slaves and transporting them to the West Coast of Africa. Madison served on the board of visitors at the University of Virginia, and briefly came out of retirement at the age of 79 to attend the 1829 Virginia Constitutional Convention. On June 28, 1836, James Madison died at Montpelier at the age of 85 and was buried in the Madison Family Cemetery on the mansion grounds.

Source:James Madison: Retirement and Death,” James Madison’s Montpelier



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