James Madison Biography

James Madison was a statesman who served as the 4th President of the United States and known as the Father of the Constitution.

Name: James Madison

Born: March 16, 1751, Shadwell, Port Conway, Virginia, United States

Death: June 28, 1836, Orange County, Virginia, United States

Occupation: Statesman and President of the United States (1809 – 1817)

James Madison's Legacy

James Madison, considered the Father of the Constitution, helped the United States made the transition from a semi-organized nation to a legally and morally bounded country. While his work writing the Constitution provided the ground and the compass, his time as Secretary of State doubled the size of the country, and the victories in the war of 1812 provided the morale the country was looking for since its inception.

However, Madison’s major contribution was his success convincing the individual states to adopt a “shared sovereignty” with the federal government, a move that served both to establishing an American identity, and building the foundations to become a regional power.

18 James Madison's Life Events

1James Madison Jr. was born on March 16, 1751, in Port Conway, Virginia, son of James Madison Sr., an influential planter, and Nelly Conway, who was visiting her parents at the moment.

2Madison attended a boarding school located in King and Queen County, Virginia, in 1762. There, he learned mathematics and geography, and soon after, he returned to the family home and took private classes under Reverend Thomas Martin.

3He entered the College of New Jersey, which was later renamed as Princeton University, in 1769, where he studied languages like Greek and Latin, as well as natural sciences and philosophy. During this time he met poet Philip Freneau and future vice-president Aaron Burr.

4During the American Revolution times he was elected to the Committee of Safety in Orange County and became a colonel in the militia in 1775, although he never fought because of his health problems. However, he used his writing skills in the First Virginia Convention, where he met Thomas Jefferson.

5In 1777, he ran for a seat on the Virginia Assembly, but he wasn’t elected. Nonetheless, he started serving in the Virginia Council, where he managed most of the communication between the revolutionaries and France.

6James Madison represented Virginia in the Congress of the Confederation from 1780 to 1783 and right after, in 1784, he won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

7In 1787, Madison participated in the Constitution Convention, and he was in charge of drafting the Constitution of the United States. There, he promoted his idea of having a federal government divided into three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial, so no abuse of power can arise.

8In 1789, Madison became part of the House of Representatives after having lost a seat in the Senate. He actively participated in the Bill of Rights and suggested 9 articles that could potentially be 20 amendments to the Constitution, which included freedom of speech.

9In 1794 James Madison met his future wife Dolley Payne Todd in Philadelphia, and they got married the same year. 3 years later, Madison didn’t run for reelection, left Congress, and returned to Montpelier, along with Dolley and his son from her first marriage.


0When Thomas Jefferson became President of the United States in 1801, Madison became his Secretary of State and supervised James Monroe’s negotiations to purchase New Orleans and surrounding areas from France for 10 million, but since Napoleon at war in Europe and needed the money, he offered the whole Louisiana territory for 15 million. This purchase doubled the country’s size.


1He campaigned for the Embargo Act of 1807, a disastrous economic measure against Britain and France with its roots in the constant harassment of U.S. merchant ships. The measure was repealed a year later, replacing it for the Non-Intercourse Act, a measure that did nothing to improve the situation of American Ships in the Atlantic, leading to war in 1812.


2James Madison became the 4th President of the United States in 1809 defeating Federalist Charles C. Pinckney and Independent Republican George Clinton by a large margin.


3In 1812, even though Madison didn’t want a war, the U.S. declared war on Britain. It faced strong opposition from the Federalists, and the war wasn’t going that well at the beginning. However, he managed to get re-elected, defeating DeWitt Clinton.


4In 1814, Britain invaded the U.S. and they reached the capital, forcing Madison to escape the city. Several important buildings were destroyed, including the White House and the Capitol.


5James Madison retired in 1817 at age 65, leaving the presidency to James Monroe, and dedicated his time in the tobacco plantation of the family in Montpelier for the next years.


6Madison and Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, opened in 1825. Jefferson became the university’s rector, but he died in 1826. Madison replaced him and held the position for 10 more years.


7He participated in the 1829 Constitutional Convention and worked in the American Colonization Society with the purpose of helping freed slaves return to Africa. He became its president in 1833.


8James Madison died on June 28, 1836, in Orange County, Virginia.

9 James Madison's Interesting Facts

1James Madison was the oldest son of 12 (7 brothers and 4 sisters), and he was a weak and slim boy, constantly suffering different illnesses during his youth.

2Madison and George Mason were in charge of drafting the Virginia Constitution and supported the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Madison put specific emphasis on Freedom of Religion.

3His draft of the Constitution faced strong opposition from several states, including Virginia, so Madison joined forces with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in order to get it ratified. They published a series of articles in New York that later became a book called the Federalist Papers.

4Madison and Jefferson, although initially supportive of president George Washington, started having differences regarding the creation of a central federal bank and the Jay Treaty. These differences resulted in both Madison and Jefferson leaving the Federalist Party and creating the Democratic-Republican Party.

5Even though Madison was out of Congress, he opposed Federalist President John Adams. He and Thomas Jefferson released the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, a set of statements in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts. The resolutions suggested the states should disobey the Government and it would have a great influence in the upcoming American Civil War.

6James Madison was also in charge of organizing the expeditions of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore routes to the Pacific Ocean, learn about the indigenous settlements and map the territory.

7After a failed invasion of Canada, Britain armed several Indian tribes in the northwest allied with Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Madison appointed General William Henry Harrison, who stopped the British advance and defeated them in the Battle of the Thames, killing Tecumseh and securing control of the Great Lakes.

8Madison also appointed General Andrew Jackson to command the U.S. Army in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, achieving a significant victory for the country considering the British had a larger army. Later that year England and U.S. ended the war by signing the Treaty of Ghent.

9Madison has been the shortest and lightest president of all time with a height of 5′ 4” (1,63 m) and a weight of 98 lb.

james madison

Related Historical Figures

George Wythe
George Washington
John Adams
Alexander Hamilton
James Monroe
William Clark
Meriwether Lewis

James Madison's Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *