James Madison Biography

(4th President of The United States)

Birthday: March 16, 1751 (Pisces)

Born In: Port Conway, Virginia, United States

James Madison was the fourth President of the United States, hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for the pivotal role he played in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Bill of Rights. Born as the son of a wealthy tobacco planter, Madison had a comfortable upbringing and received education in varied subjects such as Latin, Greek, science, geography, mathematics, and philosophy. He also studied law though he had no intentions of working as a lawyer. He developed an early interest in politics and entered the field as a young adult. Madison represented Virginia at the Constitution Convention and actively participated in the debates, calling for a strong central government. He wrote the Virginia Plan in which he expressed his ideas about forming a federal government, and many of his suggestions were incorporated into the constitution. He also led the movement to ratify the constitution. He had found a mentor in Thomas Jefferson who he met during the American Revolutionary War. When Jefferson became the president, Madison served as the Secretary of State under him. Madison himself succeeded Jefferson as the president and served two terms from 1809 to 1817
Quick Facts

Nick Name: Father of the Constitution, His Little Majesty, Little Jemmy, The Great Legislator, Father of the University of Virginia, America's First Graduate Student, Sage of Montpelier, Little Johnny, Father of the Bill of Rights, Jemmie

Died At Age: 85


Spouse/Ex-: Dolley Madison

father: James Madison Sr.

mother: Eleanor Rose Conway

siblings: Ambrose Madison, Catlett Madison, Elizabeth Madison, Frances Taylor Madison, Francis Madison, Nelly Conway Madison, Reuben Madison, Sarah Catlett Madison, William Taylor Madison

children: John Payne Todd

Quotes By James Madison Diplomats

political ideology: Political party - Democratic-Republican

Died on: June 28, 1836

place of death: Montpelier, Virginia, United States

U.S. State: Virginia

Cause of Death: Congestive Heart Failure

Ancestry: British American

Founder/Co-Founder: Democratic Party, Democratic-Republican Party, 30th Indiana Infantry Regiment, The United States Constitutional Convention

More Facts

education: Princeton University

  • 1

    What were James Madison's contributions to the United States Constitution?

    James Madison is often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting the document and advocating for its ratification. He authored the Virginia Plan, which served as the basis for much of the Constitution, and later co-wrote the Federalist Papers to promote its adoption.
  • 2

    How did James Madison's political beliefs influence his presidency?

    As a proponent of a strong federal government and a strict interpretation of the Constitution, James Madison's presidency was marked by his efforts to uphold these principles. He supported the establishment of a national bank, advocated for the War of 1812, and prioritized the protection of American interests.
  • 3

    What was James Madison's stance on states' rights?

    James Madison believed in a balance of power between the federal government and the states. While he supported a strong central government, he also recognized the importance of states' rights and the need to protect individual liberties. This perspective influenced his approach to governance and policymaking.
  • 4

    How did James Madison respond to the War of 1812?

    As President during the War of 1812, James Madison faced significant challenges in defending American interests against British aggression. Despite initial setbacks, Madison rallied support for the war effort, including mobilizing troops and resources to protect the nation. The conflict ultimately ended in a stalemate but solidified American independence.
  • 5

    What was James Madison's role in the founding of the Democratic-Republican Party?

    James Madison was a key figure in the formation of the Democratic-Republican Party, which opposed the Federalist Party led by Alexander Hamilton. Alongside Thomas Jefferson, Madison helped establish the party's platform based on agrarian interests, states' rights, and limited government intervention. The Democratic-Republicans later evolved into the modern Democratic Party.
Childhood & Early Life
James Madison, Jr. was born on March 16, 1751, in Virginia as the eldest child of James Sr. and his wife Nelly. He had 11 siblings. His father was a wealthy tobacco planter.
He received a good education in Latin, Greek, science, geography, mathematics, rhetoric, and philosophy from the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, from where he graduated in 1771. He remained at the college even after graduation and studied Hebrew, political philosophy, and law.
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He served in the Virginia state legislature from 1776 to 1779 during the American Revolutionary War over the course of which he became a protégé of Thomas Jefferson. Soon Madison became a prominent presence in Virginia politics.
He assisted Jefferson in drafting the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was finally passed in 1786. The very next year, he represented Virginia at the Constitution Convention where he wrote the Virginia Plan as an outline for a possible future constitution.
After the drafting of the constitution, Madison played a pivotal role in the movement to ratify it. He collaborated with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to produce ‘The Federalist Papers’ in 1788 which was circulated in New York in support of the constitution.
He became a leader in the new House of Representatives in 1789. He drafted many laws during his tenure, the most significant of which were the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution. He called for freedom of speech and proposed public and speedy trials for those faced with charges, among other amendments.
His mentor Thomas Jefferson became the President of the United States in 1801 and he selected Madison to serve as the Secretary of State, a post he would hold for the entire tenure of Jefferson’s presidency.
As the Secretary of State, he supported Jefferson’s efforts in the acquisition of the Louisiana territory—known as the Louisiana Purchase—which included land from 15 present U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. Madison also supervised the explorations of these new lands by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
Towards the end of Jefferson’s second term as the president, it was announced that James Madison would run for presidency. Madison, running on the Democratic-Republican ticket, easily won the 1808 presidential election by a wide margin defeating Federalist Charles C. Pinckney and Independent Republican George Clinton.
He assumed office as the president on March 4, 1809. One of the major events that occurred during his tenure was the War of 1812, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies.
The war continued for more than two years, during the course of which Madison won a second term as the president. The war finally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1815. The ending of the war marked the beginning of the “Era of Good Feelings”—a period that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans. The final years of Madison’s presidency were peaceful and prosperous. He stepped down from his office on March 4, 1817.
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He retired to his tobacco plantation after leaving the office. In 1826, he was appointed as the Rector (President) of the University of Virginia, and in 1829, chosen as a representative to the constitutional convention in Richmond for the revising of the Virginia state constitution.
Major Works
James Madison is best remembered as the “Father of the Constitution” for the instrumental role he played in drafting of the United States Constitution—the supreme law of the United States of America. He also drafted the first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, which offer specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the powers of government.
Personal Life & Legacy
James Madison married quite late in life. At the age of 43, he married a 26 year old widow, Dolley Payne Todd, in 1794. He adopted his wife’s only son upon their marriage. Dolley was a charming and sociable lady who added to the popularity of Madison when he was the president.
Madison died on June 28, 1836, at the age of 85.
As part of the bicentennial celebration of the Constitution in 1986, the Congress created the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.
The James Madison College of public policy at Michigan State University, the James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and the James Madison Institute are all named in his honor.
Facts About James Madison

James Madison was the shortest President in American history.

Madison was known for his love of books and amassed a personal library of over 4 volumes, which formed the basis of the Library of Congress.

Despite his small stature, Madison was an avid horseback rider and enjoyed exploring the countryside around his home in Virginia.
Madison was a skilled musician and frequently entertained guests by playing the violin at social gatherings.
Madison's wife, Dolley Madison, was known for her social grace and charm, and she played a prominent role in shaping the role of the First Lady in American society.
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See the events in life of James Madison in Chronological Order

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