President: James Madison

4th President of the United States (1809-1817)

Biography Read: “Madison’s Gift” by David Stewart

Key Facts: Madison graduation from The College of New Jersey (now Princeton). He lead the fight to radify the Consitution and the Bill of Rights. He was born in 1751.

Notable Observations:

  • When Madison was 28, he fell in love with Kitty Floyd. She was 15 years old. The affair ended when she married another man.
  • 59 counties or towns are named after Madison, more than any other President.
  • He is the only President with a major NYC street named after him.
  • His father was a wealthy Virginia planter.
  • His mother was nineteen when he was born and lived until the age of 97. James died at the age of 85, meaning his mother was alive and a part of his life for all but the last seven years of his life.
  • Madison’s father was murdered at the age of 36 by one of his slaves that poisoned him.
  • He took notes at the Constitutional Convention because he was curious about how governments were formed. His wife later sold many of those notes to Congress for $30,000.
  • The “checks and balances” in the constitution were his idea.
  • Madison and Hamilton wrote the Federalist Papers. They were published individually in newspapers to support ratification of the Constitution.
  • Madison personally argued and won ratification from Virginia. It was the 10th state to ratify.
  • Delaware was the first state of ratify and New Hampshire was the ninth which was the minimum needed to form the United States.
  • Madison helped Washington behind the scenes gaining his trust despite being 20 years younger.
  • Madison and James Monroe (5th President) were friends and purchased 900 acres together in NY.
  • Madison wrote the Bill of Rights which were formulated from state convention recommendations.
  • Madison and Jefferson (3rd President) were friends. They discussed many topics together including science. They would record observations of weather, wildlife, and plant growth so that they could compare climate patterns between locations.
  • Madison strongly opposed the first version of the Federal Reserve (First Bank on the United States) being pushed by Hamilton. He found it unconstitutional which is ironic since he helped to form the Constitution, and argue for its passage, which is the document that ultimately allowed the federal government to takeover the financial system. Also, as President he supported the Second Bank of the United States.
  • Madison believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution. If it wasn’t in there, the power was reserved for the States and the People.
  • In the 1789 Virgnia Congressional contest, Madison ran against Monroe. This is the only time in history that two future Presidents ran against each other for a lower elected office.
  • Despite running against each other, Madison and Monroe remained friends. In 1799, Madison nominated Monroe for Governor of Virginia. He won by a two-to-one margin.
  • Monroe convinced Napoleon┬áto sell its land to the US for 4 cents per acre. This doubled the size of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was President at the time and Madison was Secretary of State. He drew up the treaty.
  • Republicans (Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe) were against a national army during peacetime as an overreach of government.
  • This backfired in 1812 when Madison declared war against Britain despite not having a standing army. The result was the war of 1812. The British burned DC including the White House.
  • Many mocked Madison for fleeing Washington while it burned. They considered him a coward.
  • In 1814 Massachusetts tried to organize a dissolving on the United States by inviting all New England states to a convention. NH and VT refused to attend and ultimately the state simply recommended changes to the United States.
  • Madison predicted that the constitution would change over time as the meaning of words changed. He also predicted the Civil War.
  • Madison was a charter member of the American Colonization Society. They shipped freed slaves to Africa (modern day Liberia) in an attempt to end slavery. Madison wanted to sell Western Lands and use the proceeds to purchase slaves and ship them to Africa.
  • When Madison died on June 28th, 1836 he was the last living person that had been at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

“Madison’s Gift” is written in five sections detailing his relationships with Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Monroe, and Dolley . It was a good read and contained lots of interesting details on the 4th President.

Casey Richards
Dallas County, Texas
March 28th, 2018

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