Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today is the 260th birthday of President James Madison

James Madison:Thank you sir for serving as the nation 4th United States President from 1809-1817.Also thank you for writing the US Constiution which is the backbone of our nation's democracy, happy 260th birthday!

James Madison, Jr. (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was an American politician and political philosopher who served as the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817) and is considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

He was the principal author of the United States Constitution, and is often called the "Father of the Constitution". In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, the most influential commentary on the Constitution. The first president to have served in the United States Congress, he was a leader in the 1st United States Congress, drafting many basic laws, and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution and thus is also known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". As a political theorist, Madison's most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority.

As leader in the House of Representatives, Madison worked closely with President George Washington to organize the new federal government. Breaking with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in 1791, Madison and Thomas Jefferson organized what they called the Republican Party (later called the Democratic-Republican Party)[6] in opposition to key policies of the Federalists, especially the national bank and the Jay Treaty. He secretly co-authored, along with Thomas Jefferson, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 to protest the Alien and Sedition Acts.

As Jefferson's Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation's size, and sponsored the ill-fated Embargo Act of 1807. As president, he led the poorly prepared nation into the War of 1812 against Great Britain. A series of disasters at the beginning of the war damaged his reputation, but by 1814–15 American forces repulsed major British invasions, the Federalist opposition fell into disarray, and Americans felt triumphant at the end of the war despite it ending in stalemate for both sides. During and after the war, Madison reversed many of his positions. By 1815, he supported the creation of the second National Bank, a strong military, and a high tariff to protect the new factories opened during the war.

Early life: James Madison was born at Belle Grove Plantation near Port Conway, Virginia on March 16, 1751, (March 5, 1751, Old Style, Julian calendar). He grew up as the oldest of twelve children, of whom nine survived. His father, James Madison, Sr., (1723–1801) was a tobacco planter who grew up on an estate in Orange County, Virginia, which he inherited on reaching maturity. He later acquired still more property and, with 5,000 acres, became the largest landowner and leading citizen of Orange County. His mother, Nelly Conway Madison (1731–1829), was born at Port Conway, Virginia, the daughter of a prominent planter and tobacco merchant. Madison's parents married in 1743. Both parents had a significant influence over their most famous oldest son.

Madison had three brothers and three sisters who lived to maturity (by whom he had more than 30 nieces and nephews):

Francis Madison (1753–1800): planter of Orange County, Virginia
Ambrose Madison (1755–1793): planter and captain in the Virginia militia, looked after the family interests in Orange County; named after his paternal grandfather.
Catlett Madison (1758–1758): died in infancy.
Nelly Madison Hite (1760–1802)
William Madison (1762–1843): veteran of the Revolution and a lawyer, he served in the Virginia legislature
Sarah Catlett Madison Macon (1764–1843)
Unnamed child (1766–1766)
Elizabeth Madison (1768–1775)
Unnamed child (1770–1770)
Reuben Madison (1771–1775)
Frances "Fanny" Madison Rose (1774–1823)

Madison is the only president to have had two vice-presidents die while in office.
The two vice-presidents were George Clinton (New York) 1809–1812 and Elbridge Gerry (Massachusetts)1813–1814.

Later life

When Madison left office in 1817, he retired to Montpelier, his tobacco plantation in Virginia; not far from Jefferson's Monticello. Madison was then 65 years old. Dolley, who thought they would finally have a chance to travel to Paris, was 49. As with both Washington and Jefferson, Madison left the presidency a poorer man than when he entered, due to the steady financial collapse of his plantation.

Some historians speculate that his mounting debt was one of the chief reasons why he refused to allow his notes on the Constitutional Convention, or its official records which he possessed, to be published in his lifetime "He knew the value of his notes, and wanted them to bring money to his estate for Dolley's use as his plantation failed—he was hoping for one hundred thousand dollars from the sale of his papers, of which the notes were the gem." Madison's financial troubles and deteriorating mental and physical health would continue to consume him.

In his later years, Madison also became extremely concerned about his legacy. He took to modifying letters and other documents in his possessions: changing days and dates, adding and deleting words and sentences, and shifting characters. By the time he had reached his late seventies, this "straightening out" had become almost an obsession.

This can be seen by his editing of a letter he had written to Jefferson criticizing Lafayette: Madison not only inked out original passages, but went so far as to imitate Jefferson's handwriting as well. In Madison's mind, this may have represented an effort to make himself clear, to justify his actions both to history and to himself.

During the final six years of his life, amid a sea of personal [financial] troubles that were threatening to engulf him...At times mental agitation issued in physical collapse. For the better part of a year in 1831 and 1832 he was bedridden, if not silenced...Literally sick with anxiety, he began to despair of his ability to make himself understood by his fellow citizens.

In 1826, after the death of Jefferson, Madison followed Jefferson as the second Rector ("President") of the University of Virginia. It would be his last occupation. He retained the position as college chancellor for ten years, until his death in 1836

In 1829, at the age of 78, Madison was chosen as a representative to the constitutional convention in Richmond for the revising of the Virginia state constitution; this was to be Madison's last appearance as a legislator and constitutional drafter. The issue of greatest importance at this convention was apportionment. The western districts of Virginia complained that they were underrepresented because the state constitution apportioned voting districts by county, not population. Westerners' growing numbers thus did not yield growing representation.

Western reformers also wanted to extend suffrage to all white men, in place of the historic property requirement. Madison tried to effect a compromise, but to no avail. Eventually, suffrage rights were extended to renters as well as landowners, but the eastern planters refused to adopt population apportionment. Madison was disappointed at the failure of Virginians to resolve the issue more equitably. "The Convention of 1829, we might say, pushed Madison steadily to the brink of self-delusion, if not despair. The dilemma of slavery undid him."

Although his health had now almost failed, he managed to produce several memoranda on political subjects, including an essay against the appointment of chaplains for Congress and the armed forces, because this produced religious exclusion, but not political harmony.

Madison lived on until 1836, increasingly ignored by the new leaders of the American polity. He died at Montpelier on June 28, the last of the Founding Fathers to die. He is buried in the Madison Family Cemetery at Montpelier.

James Madison was honored on a Postage Issue of 1894
Presidential Dollar of James Madison
"Madison Cottage" on the site of the Fifth Avenue Hotel at Madison Square, NYC, 1852As historian Garry Wills wrote:

Madison's claim on our admiration does not rest on a perfect consistency, any more than it rests on his presidency. He has other virtues.... As a framer and defender of the Constitution he had no peer.... The finest part of Madison's performance as president was his concern for the preserving of the Constitution.... No man could do everything for the country – not even Washington. Madison did more than most, and did some things better than any. That was quite enough.

Auction of books of James Madison's library, Orange County, Virginia, 1854Montpelier, his family's estate and his home in Orange, Virginia, is a National Historic Landmark

Many counties, several towns, cities, educational institutions, a mountain range and a river are named after Madison.

Cities:Madison, Wisconsin

The James Madison College of public policy at Michigan State University; James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia - its athletic teams are called the James Madison Dukes; the James Madison Institute was named in honor of his contributions to the Constitution.

The Madison Range was named in honor of the future President then U.S. Secretary of State by Meriwether Lewis as the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through Montana in 1805. The Madison River in southwestern Montana, named in 1805 by Lewis & Clark.

Mount Madison in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in New Hampshire is named after Madison.

Two U.S. Navy ships have been named USS James Madison and three USS Madison.
Madison's portrait was on the U.S. $5000 bill.

Madison Square Gardens and Madison Cycle Racing:
A lodge was built three years after Madison's death in a critical spot at the then-northernmost departure and arrival point in New York City — and named Madison Cottage in honor of the recently deceased fourth president. The site of Madison Cottage would remain a critical crossroads throughout the city's history — after its demise the site became a park, in turn named Madison Square,which remains today. Madison Square in turn, lead to the naming of Madison Avenue and Madison Square Garden, the latter taking the name of its original location: next to Madison Square. Madison Square Gardens, a prominent bicycling venue, gave rise to a popular form of track cycle racing named after the arena, Madison Racing, which remains an Olympic Sport today

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