James Madison, our Fourth U.S. President

James Madison, our fourth U.S. president, is considered the “Father of the Constitution”. Madison is sometimes also referred to as starting the War of 1812. Either way he is remembered, he still helped us become what we are today as a nation. He is one of the Founding Fathers and a Federalist writer. He had many great accomplishments but had some mistakes in his career as well. Even though he is the shortest president (5’4”!) he still did world changing things.

James Madison Jr. was born on March 16, 1751 in Port Conway, Virginia. His Parents James Madison Sr., known Colonel Militia For the American Revolution and his mom, daughter of a rich tobacco farmer, Eleanor (Nellie) Conway Madison. In Port Conway, he was scared of the Indian attacks. Due to the attacks, they had to move to a large plantation in Montpelier, Virginia. James also had psychosomatic, stress-induced, seizures. He was the oldest of 12 siblings. Two were stillborn, one died at one month, and one died at 4 years old. He loved every single one of them.

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In 1762, Madison went to a boarding school run by Donald Robertson in King and Queen County, Virginia. He went back to Orange County with his father five years later. Madison stayed home and received private tutoring because his father was concerned about his health. After two years, in 1769 Madison enrolled into the College of New Jersey—now known as Princeton University. Madison studied Latin, Greek, science, and philosophy among other subjects. He graduated in 1771 but stayed to continue his studies with the schools’ president Reverend John Witherspoon. During his school year, Donald Robertson helped Madison become the man he was. He helped him with his studies and helped him trudge through the tough times. Even though Madison had to leave that school he remembered Robertson till the end.

It has been said that Madison was very fond of the public policy and having religious freedom. This was shown when he worked on cases involving baptist preachers. Madison also became part of the Virginia state legislature from 1776-1779. During this time, he met Thomas Jefferson and eventually followed under the help of Jefferson. During these couple of years, Madison really started to get into his political career. He started by initiating major changes in Virginia such as drafting the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedoms. Also the formation of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and the giving up of Virginia’s claims over several disputed northwestern territories. Based on his active role in politics, many saw James Madison as a hardworking man and got him elected to be part of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1784-1786.

The calm James Madison had zero children of his own but his wife Dolley had John Payne Todd with her first husband. John spent as much time away from Montpelier at school as he did at home. The President also did a few hobbies at his house other than playing chess and devouring the many books in his collection. Including a few in languages he speaks like Greek and Latin. He did take an occasional horseback ride around his 2,650-acre plantation. He also enjoys walking in the woods observing nature in his backyard. His family life though at the White House consisted of little private time with Dolley or John. So instead Madison socialized, partied, danced, and dined grandly in what appears to have been one continuous entertainment saga. By the end of Madison’s second term, moreover, the young John Todd had proven himself to be an alcoholic who just stayed in his room without spending much time with his mother or father. John Todd also put Madison in debt when he died because he gambled and drunk too much. Madison was in so much debt that Dolley had to sell all their belongings, land, and slaves to not be in debt anymore.

As a result of his role in the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and his experience as Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson from 1801 to 1809, James Madison was the party favorite in the presidential election of 1808. James Madison was the presidential candidate for the Democratic-Republican Party. He ran against the Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. He ran for president to free his slaves and to abolish slavery. Even though he grew up with slaves he still didn’t like them. He really want them to be free but couldn’t do anything about, so he got into politics. He never really got to free his slaves because he died in debt and his wife Dolley had to sell them.

Our fourth president of the United States of America served two full terms. Although during his first term a British force led by Major General Robert Ross. He burned down multiple buildings including the White House. Dolley famously took the George Washington painting before it burned down. The new White House took eight years to build but Madison never got to live as a president in there. James Madison was part of the Democratic-Republican Party. It was formed by him and Thomas Jefferson in 1792. It was formed to oppose the new Federalist Party run by Alexander Hamilton. It is called America’s first opposition political party. His first vice president was George Clinton during 1809-1812, also one of the people he went against during the election. His second vice president was Elbridge Gerry during 1813-1814. Both vice presidents died in office, but neither was replaced because they didn’t have the 25th amendment. One important act was the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809. During the last days of Jefferson’s presidency they switched the Embargo Act of 1807 with the Non-Intercourse Act. “This Act lifted all embargoes on American shipping except for those bound for British or French ports” (wikipedia). During the war of 1812 Madison was in his first term. British soldiers burnt down the White House. This war was due to the tensions between the French and Britain. They were fighting to stop America from trading to each other. Two years after that Francis Scott Key wrote a poem called “The Defence of Fort McHenry”. It was later changed to “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1931. Still during 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was created to stop the war of 1812. Both sides signed the peace treaty on December 24, 1814. It as named “Ghent” because it was signed in the city of Ghent, United Netherlands. A year later in 1815 the battle of New Orleans started. It was between the British Army and the American Army. Major General Sir Edward Pakenham led the British army where as Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson led the American Army. It took place in new Orleans, Louisiana. It was fought right after the treaty of Ghent was signed. The british tried to defeat america, with a large advantage, but failed. America beat the British in just over an half an hour with only 60 casualties. The british though did have over 2,000 casualties with the death of there Major Sir Edward Pakenham. The Hartford Convention was a collection of meetings from 1814-1815. The New England Federalist Party went to Hartford, Connecticut to discuss the grievances about the war of 1812. They also went to talk about other political problems. The War of 1812 had left a giant debt. For these reasons Madison signed a bill authorizing the 2nd Bank in 1816 with it lasting 20 years.

James Madison lived in Montpelier, Virginia. After he left the White House he lived at his plantation in Montpelier, Virginia. After his two full terms he retired to live with his wife Dolley. During this time he just spent it with Dolley, and barely their son. He played board games and always invited people over. He would talk to them about his latest artwork and other architectural things. He would do many parties where he talked about other people. Then he died at Montpelier on June 28, 1836 at the age of 85. Since James was always so sick his health just got worse and worse. He sadly died of Congestive Heart Failure. James Madison though will never be forgotten. He is known for many things that we can’t forget. He helped create the Constitution, helped engineer the Bill of Rights. He was even one of the writers of the Federalist Papers. Madison was a very educational inspiring person. He helped this nation grow and become what it is today. Without him we wouldn’t really have freedom. He learned all these great things from Thomas Jefferson. He taught him and was basically his Mentor. “The Father of the Constitution”, co-founder of the Democratic-Republican Party, and also a brilliant Secretary of State for Jefferson. During that position he got to supervise the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the United States. He served two terms in the House of Representatives, and two terms for the Congress of the Confederation all for Virginia. He also made Colonel for the Virginia Militia. Many of these things still can’t describe what Madison did for us.

In conclusion, James Madison lived a long and memorable life. He is known for being our fourth President, a writer of the Constitution, and creator of the Bill of Rights. He is also known for his large estate, Montpelier, which is now a tourist attraction. Because he is one of the Founding Fathers, James Madison will always be an important part of American history.

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