James Madison, 1751 - 1836

portrait of James Madison
Oil on canvas by John Vanderlyn (1816)
James Madison signature
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Born: 16 March 1751, Port Conway, Virginia
Died: 28 June 1836, Montpelier, Virginia

Madison's father was the largest land owner in Orange County, Virginia. He was tutored from age 11 to 16 at the Innes plantation, then spent two years at Montpelier under the tutelage of Reverend Thomas Martin to prepare for college. Largely for health reasons (avoiding the lowland climate of the College of William and Mary, where most Virginians went) Madison entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and graduated in two years. As a lawyer he defended religious dissidents and as a Virginia legislator helped draft and pass the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, disestablishing the Anglican church. He was influential in ceding most of western Virginia to the federal government as the Northwest Territory, which later became five new states. At the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 Madison drafted the Virginia Plan for a new constitution, featuring the separation of powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches. and his text largely became the final document. Based on his efforts, he has been referred to as the "Father of the Constitution", but at the time he asserted it was "a credit to which I have no claim". During the campaign for ratification a series of newspaper articles now known as the Federalist Papers were published under the name "Publius", Madison wrote about a third of them. (Alexander Hamilton was the primary author, John Jay wrote a few.) Although he had been strongly opposed to including a list of rights for the populace at the convention, George Mason's campaign led Hamilton to shepherd the Bill of Rights through the first congress. Although he had worked with Hamilton earlier, Madison came to oppose the strong central government that the Federalists, led by Hamilton and George Washington, were trying to establish. He teamed with Thomas Jefferson to oppose the Alien and Sedition Acts. Madison was Secretary of State under Jefferson and supervised the Louisiana Purchase. He succeeded Jefferson as president, serving from 1809 to 1817, during which the War of 1812 was fought. He retired to his tobacco plantation at Montpelier where he wrote and worked on his papers, although he did serve as the president of the University of Virginia from 1926, again taking over from Jefferson. He was the last of the Founding Fathers to die.

Biography from Wikipedia and Presidential Pet Museum

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