“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
James Madison isn’t as well-known as Thomas Jefferson or George Washington, but he played a vital role in the early years of our country. Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.” The Constitution was written by several men, but Madison contributed many ideas. Madison is also known for writing The Bill of Rights. Before becoming the fourth President of the United States, Madison was an attorney and Congressional delegate. He spent 86 days with other delegates developing the structure of the U.S. government, including the federal court system, the Presidency, and Congress.
- James Madison was born on March 16, 1751, at Belle Grove, Port Conway, VA.
- Madison was the eldest of twelve children.
- When Madison was twelve, he went to a small boarding school where he learned Latin, French, Greek, geography, arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. Madison gave credit to his teacher for much of what he became in life. Later, Madison graduated from what is now Princeton University.
- Madison was a small man. Some accounts say he was only 5 feet; others say he was 5 feet 6 inches. He was quiet in a group, but was witty and charming with friends.
- James Madison was a scholar who loved learning. He spent months studying history and reading documents about government. These studies became important as he helped write the Constitution.
- Madison’s wife, Dolley, was beloved by the people. She was a gracious hostess, putting on elaborate dinners. She wore grand clothing, including tall hats or turbans decorated with feathers or jewels.
- Madison was a Democratic-Republican, although he did believe in a strong Federal government. He served as Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State.
- Madison became the fourth president on March 4, 1809 and served two terms.
- One of Madison’s biggest challenges during his presidency was the French and British War. The British routinely captured American ships and sailors headed to France during the war. Madison tried to stay out of the conflict, but finally declared war on Great Britain.
- At one point, The British entered Washington and set the White House and Capitol building on fire. Dolley risked her life to rescue a painting of George Washington and government documents from the White House.
Question and Answer
Question: Did the Madisons have any children?
Answer: James Madison was 43-years-old when he married widow, Dolley Dandridge Payne Todd. They had no children together. Dolley had a son from her previous marriage. Another infant son died in a yellow fever epidemic that took her first husband’s life, as well.
Visit Montpelier.org to see photos of the Madison’s beloved estate, Montpelier.
Learn more about Dolley Madison and her role in the White House.
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