I confess, I knew little of James Madison before becoming intrigued by his history before and after the ratification of the Constitution.
The Father of the Constituion of the United States of America
James Madison was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a key contributor to the development of the country's Constitution.
Madison played a central role in the drafting and ratification of the Constitution
Often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution" for his leading role in its creation.
The Birth of Federalism: United We Stand - Divided We Share Power
As a member of the Constitutional Convention, Madison was instrumental in developing the concept of federalism:
Federalism divides powers between the federal government and the states.
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton wrote a series of anonymous essays known as the Federalist Papers
James Madison could also be aptly be named a "Father of American Federalism" and defended the proposed Constitution and argued for its ratification. Madison's essays were published in newspapers under the pseudonym "Publius" and were written to sway public opinion in favor of the Constitution.
Frienemies: James Madison and Thomas Jefferson both allies and bitter enemies
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were two of the founding fathers of the United States and close political allies, but they had different views on some important political issues, including the role of the federal government and the power of the national bank. To express their views, they published anonymous editorials attacking each other's positions in newspapers of the day.
The use of anonymous editorials and newspapers allowed the Jeffersonians and Federalists to attack their opponents and promote their own ideas without fear of reprisal. While this was a common practice in the 18th and 19th centuries, it would be considered questionable today because of the lack of transparency and accountability of the author.
Thomas Jefferson is known to have used a pseudonym, "A Countryman."
Like James Madison, Thomas Jefferson also used a cover name to hide his identity in several writings, including anonymous newspaper articles and letters. Some historians have suggested that Jefferson used the pseudonym to defend Southern interests, including the institution of slavery.
For example, in one anonymous article published in a Richmond newspaper in 1799, Jefferson, writing as "A Countryman," criticized Northern attempts to abolish slavery and expressed his belief that the institution was essential to the Southern economy.
The Bill of Rights: America's Original 10 Amendments
James Madison also played a key role in the development of the Bill of Rights, which includes the first ten amendments to the Constitution:
The Bill of Rights protects the fundamental rights and liberties of American citizens.
America's Fourth President of the United States (1809-1817)
In addition to his contributions to the Constitution, Madison also served as the fourth President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. During his presidency, he oversaw the expansion of the country's territory:
The acquisition of western lands.
The Louisiana Purchase.
Strengthen the federal government's power.
Worked to improve relations with other countries and mature America's fledging foreign policies.
No Man is Without Flaws
While Madison made important contributions to the development of the United States, he also had his faults. Like many of the Founding Fathers, Madison was a slave owner and did not believe in the immediate abolition of slavery. He also supported the forced removal of Native American tribes from their ancestral lands in order to make way for white settlers. These actions have had lasting negative impacts on American society and continue to be sources of controversy and criticism.