Biography of President James Madison
Celebrated Americans





JAMES MADISON, the fourth president of the United States, 1809-47, was born at Port Conway, Prince George county, Virginia, March 16, 1751. He was the son of a wealthy planter, who lived on a fine estate called "Montpelier," which was but twenty five miles from Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Madison was the eldest of a family of seven children, all of whom attained maturity. He received his early education at home under a private tutor, and consecrated himself with unusual vigor to study. At a very early age he was a proficient scholar in Latin, Greek, French and Spanish, and in 1769 he entered Princeton College, New Jersey. He graduated in 1771, but remained for several months after his graduation to pursue a course of study under the guidance of Dr. Witherspoon. He permanently injured his health at this time and returned to Virginia in 1772, and for two years he was immersed in the study of law, and at the same time made extended researches in theology, general literature, and philosophical studies. He then directed his full attention to the impending struggle of the colonies for independence, and also took a prominent part in the religious controversy at that time regarding so called persecution of other religious denominations by the Church of England. Mr. Madison was elected to the Virginia assemblyin 1776 and in November, 1777, he was chosen a member of the council of state, He took his seat in the continental congress in March, 1780. He was made chairman of the committee on foreign relations, and drafted an able memoranda for the use of the American ministers to the French and Spanish governments, that established the claims of the republic to the territories between the Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi River. He acted as chairman of the ways and means committee in 1783 and as a member of the Virginia legislature in 1784-86 he rendered important services to the state. Mr. Madison represented Virgiana in the national constitutional convention at Philadelphia in 1787, and was one of the chief framers of the constitution, He was a member of the first four congresses, 1789-97, and gradually became identified with the anti federalist or republican party of which he eventually became the leader. He remained in private life during the administration of John Adams, and was secretary of state under President Jefferson. Mr. Madison administered the affairs of that post with such great ability that he was the natural successor of the chief magistrate and was chosen president by an electoral vote of 122 to 53. He was inaugurated March 4, 1809, at that critical period in our history when the feelings of the people were embittered with those of England, and his first terni was passed in diplomatic quarrels, which finally resulted in the declaration of war, June 18, 1812. In the autumn of that year President Madison was re-elected by a vote of 128 to 89, and conducted the war for three years with varying success and defeat in Canada, by glorious victories at sea, and by the battle of New Orleans that was fought after the treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent, December 24, 1814. During this war the national capitol at Washington was burned, and many valuable papers were destroyed, but the declaration of independence was saved to the country by the bravery and courage of Mr. Madison's illustrious wife. A commercial treaty was negotiated with Great Britain in 1815, and in April, 1816, a national bank was incorporated by congress. Mr. Madison was succeeded, March 4, 1817, by James Monroe, and retired into private life on his estate at Montpelier, where he died June 28, 1836.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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