James Madison Biography

James Madison, Fourth president of the United States of America. He was born on March 16, 1751, in Port Conway, Virginia.

He studied at the College of New Jersey (current Princeton University) in 1771. In 1774 he assumed the first position of responsibility in the state government.James Madison

First years

James Madison was born in Belle Grove, near Port Conway, Virginia, on March 16, 1751. He grew up as the oldest of 12 brothers, nine of whom survived.

His father, James Madison Sr, was a tobacco planter who later became a landowner and his mother, Nelly Conway Madison, was the daughter of a prominent tobacco merchant landowner.

The young Madison studied with a private teacher from eleven to sixteen, with whom he learned geography, mathematics and ancient and modern languages, coming to master Latin very well.

At age 16 he began preparing to enter college with the Reverend Martin Thomas. Madison, unlike most of the young people of Virginia, did not choose the College of William and Mary, since he was in an area with a climate that could harm his delicate state of health

Beginnings in politics

In his early days as a lawyer, Madison defended Baptist preachers arrested for preaching without the license established by the Anglican Church.

He also worked with preacher Elijah Craig on the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom in Virginia, which helped him form his own ideas on that subject.

Madison served in the Virginia State Legislature and became known as a “protege” of Thomas Jefferson.

James Madison reached his political prominence by helping to draft the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty. With this document ties with the Church of England were broken and any coercion of the state in religious matters was rejected.

Madison was in charge to persuade the territories of the northwest so that they resigned to their western lands for the formation of new states, a reason why was seen like a teacher of the parliamentary dialogs.

The Virginia Convention

He participated in the Virginia Convention that declared the independence of Great Britain and elaborated the Constitution of that State (1776).

He was then counselor to Governor Jefferson (1777), member of the Continental Congress (1780-83), the Constituent Convention of Philadelphia (1787) and the first House of Representatives, as well as adviser to the first president, George Washington.

The so-called “father of the constitution” was one of the founders of the Republican Party in the 1790s (later called the Republican-Democratic Party).

Secretary of State of the United States

With Jefferson in the presidency, Madison helped the president negotiate the purchase of Louisiana by revoking party politics and bypassing the constitution itself.

Madison tried to maintain neutrality between Britain and France, but at the same time insisted on the legal rights of the US. UU under international law.

Since the governments of those countries did not show much respect, the US government issued a law that prohibited the country from trading with any foreign nation, which only managed to create difficulties in the territories of the south coast that depended on trade.

Madison easily defeated Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in the elections to select the presidential candidate for his party running for the presidential election of 1809, which he won.

The Republic

Along with Alexander Hamilton, James Madison led the federalist current, which advocated the establishment of a strong central government to ensure victory in the open war against the metropolis and the subsequent economic development of the country.

He argued that a strongly united Republic, far from representing the threat of a new despotism, was a guarantee of freedom, since local powers and particular interests would balance each other.

In 1790 he broke with Hamilton, criticizing his excessive centralism against the autonomy of the States, his tendency to privilege commercial interests and his alignment with Great Britain in international affairs, to the detriment of revolutionary France.

The dissidence of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson with respect to the Federalist Party led them to create the Republican Party, predecessor of the current Democratic Party.

Madison supported the campaign for Jefferson’s presidential election in 1800 and became its secretary of state (1801-09): during the Napoleonic wars he took advantage of France’s difficulties to buy Louisiana (1803).

He succeeded Jefferson in the presidency in 1809 and was re-elected for a second term (1813-17).

The first Mandate

Already in his first term, he failed to maintain neutrality in the Franco-British confrontation.
He embarked on a second war against Great Britain (1812-14), very unpopular, especially in the New England States, which threatened to separate from the Union.

The course of the war was not favorable to the Americans, who had to evacuate the capital; but neither to the British.

They abandoned all pretense of recovering their former colonies or of opposing their expansion to the west.

Postwar period

the occupation of Washington represented a huge humiliation for Madison and the whole government and himself as president were accused of not being in the White House until the last moment. After that, Madison became an unpopular president.

After the war, although Madison had accepted the need for a National Bank in order to maintain a permanent professional army and a strong navy, in one of his last acts as president he vetoed the Bonus Bill of 1817, which he was going to finance ” internal improvements, “including roads, bridges, and canals.

International policy

In 1810, as president, a special American agent arrived in Cuba to establish contact with annexationist elements and carry out conspiratorial activities.

In that same year, the US president directed his minister in London, Willianm Piecknay, to inform the administration of that country that:

Cuba’s position gives the United States such a deep interest in the destiny of that island, that, although they could remain inactive.

They could not be satisfied spectators of its fall into the hands of any European government that could make that position a point of support against the trade and security of the United States.

Under the mandate was carried out the Second Berber War in which the United States fought piracy in North Africa, with the second intention to have control over the region.

In his last years as president, he concentrated mainly on domestic politics and economic development.

Private life

Madison left the position of president in 1817 and retired to his plantation of tobacco in Montpelier.

His personal income was scarce, due to the financial collapse of his plantation.
In his later years, Madison became extremely concerned about his legacy.

He checked his letters and other documents, correcting dates, phrases and checking the spelling. In its last years, this became an obsession.

In 1826, after Jefferson’s death, Madison served as rector of the University of Virginia. It would be his last occupation. He held the post for ten years, until his death in 1836.

James Madison movie in a minute

The life of James Madison, America’s 4th President, who assumed the nation’s highest office from 1809 – 1817. Prior to his time in office, President Madison served as United States Secretary of State. Enjoy this Presidential Minute with James Madison.

The Representative

In 1829, at the age of 78, Madison was elected representative to the constitutional convention in Richmond for the revision of the constitution of the state of Virginia, which was to be his last appearance as a lawmaker and constitutional editor.

He occasionally advised the new president (James Monroe) and wrote in support of customs protectionism and the creation of a central bank.

He gave his support to President Andrew Jackson when South Carolina reignited the controversy over the invalidation of federal laws in 1832. Collaborated with Jefferson in founding the University of Virginia and became rector of it in 1826. He was also a member of the Constitutional Convention of Virginia in 1829.

Madison lived until 1836, increasingly ignored by the new leaders of American politics. He died in Montpellier on June 28, being the last of the Founding Fathers to die.

Madison Square Garden stadium (Madison Square Garden) is named after him.

A great book I recommend is this.

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered (English Edition)
  • Lynne Cheney
  • Penguin Books
  • Edición Kindle
  • Inglés

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