Madison, James


Madison, James

biographical name

(born March 16, 1751, Port Conway, Va.—died June 28, 1836, Montpelier, Va., U.S.) Fourth president of the U.S. (1809–17). After graduating from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), he served in the Virginia state legislature (1776–80, 1784–86). At the Constitutional Convention (1787), his Virginia, or large-state, Plan furnished the Constitution's basic framework and guiding principles, earning him the title “father of the Constitution.” To promote its ratification, he collaborated with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay on the Federalist papers, a series of articles on the Constitution and republican government published in newspapers in 1787–88 (Madison wrote 29 of the 85 articles). In the U.S. House of Representatives (1789–97), he sponsored the Bill of Rights. He split with Hamilton over the existence of an implied congressional power to create a national bank; Madison denied such a power, though later, as president, he requested a national bank from Congress. In protest of the Alien and Sedition Acts, he drafted one of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in 1798 (Thomas Jefferson drafted the other). From 1801 to 1809 he was Jefferson's secretary of state. Elected president in 1808, he immediately faced the problem of British interference with neutral U.S. merchant vessels, which Jefferson's Embargo Act (1807) had failed to discourage. Believing that Britain was bent on permanent suppression of American commerce, Madison proclaimed nonintercourse with Britain in 1810 and signed a declaration of war in 1812. During the ensuing War of 1812 (1812–14), Madison and his family were forced to flee Washington, D.C., as advancing British troops burned the executive mansion and other public buildings. During Madison's second term (1813–17) the second Bank of the United States was chartered and the first U.S. protective tariff was imposed. He retired to his Virginia estate, Montpelier, with his wife, Dolley (1768–1849), whose political acumen he had long prized. He participated in Jefferson's creation of the University of Virginia, later serving as its rector (1826–36), and produced numerous articles and letters on political topics.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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