4th President (1809-1817)
Born: March 16, 1751
Died: June 28, 1836
Vice Presidents: George Clinton, Elbridge Gerry
Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Next President: James Monroe
James Madison was one of the more influential figures in drafting the American Constitution and, more
specifically, the bill of rights. Madison was part of a small group of patriots who worked tirelessly behind the
scenes to create a federalist structure to the new government and ratify the Constitution as soon as the American
Revolution was over. Madison was born on March 16, 1751 in Port Conway, Virginia to James Madison Sr. and Nelly
Conway Madison. James Madison Jr. was the oldest child in a family of twelve children, but three of his siblings
died before they could reach their teenage years.
James Madison began his pursuit of higher learning at the age of 11 when he started to take language and
mathematics from a tutor named Donald Robertson who was known for tutoring the children of plantation owners. In
1771, Madison graduated from Princeton University with several major courses of study and he was also fluent in
Latin and Hebrew by the time he was done studying in college. It is said that Madison worked so hard in college
that he put his own health at risk. But Madison was dedicated to his work in law and politics. He started out in
the Virginia House of Delegates in his early 20’s and became a United States congressman at the age of 32. His work
ethic was described as driven and persistent. He became one of the primary writers of the United States
Constitution while still in his 30’s.
James Madison did not marry until he was 43 years old when he married widower Dolley Payne Todd. James and
Dolley Madison did not have children of their own, but James Madison did adopt Dolley’s son John Payne Todd after
the couple was married. Despite his driven and serious nature, the marriage between John and Dolley Madison was
generally seen as a happy one. She was considered an excellent hostess at the White House and was extremely active
in the Washington, D.C. social circuit.
James Madison was the president when the war of 1812 broke out. Despite having a growing nation still in chaos
and a staff of generals that most military historians consider to be incompetent, Madison managed to find a way to
stave off the British despite Washington, D.C. being burnt to the ground. One famous story about the Madison
presidency includes first lady Dolley Madison running back into the White House as the first family was escaping
the invading British to save the original copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Notable James Madison Quotes
"A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people."
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and
silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if
the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood."
The Only President to...
Madison was the only president to have two vice-presidents die while he was in office.
Interesting James Madison Facts
Madison was the last of the Founding Fathers to die.
Madison believed that the rights of the individual needed to be protected from the tyranny of
the majority. This belief lead him to introduce the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution now
known as the Bill of Rights.