- NAME: James Madison
- OCCUPATION: U.S. President
- BIRTH DATE: March 16, 1751
- DEATH DATE: June 28, 1836
- EDUCATION: College of New Jersey (now Princeton University)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Port Conway, Virginia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Orange County (Montpelier), Virginia
- Full Name: James Madison Jr.
- Nickname: "Father of the Constitution"
- AKA: James Madison
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The fourth U.S. president, James Madison believed in a robust yet balanced federal government and is known as the "Father of the Constitution."
James Madison - War of 1812 (2:21)
At just 5'4", James Madison was hardly a commanding presence, but that didn't stop him from shaping American history.
In 1812, James Madison became the first U.S. president to ask Congress to declare war. Find out why he wanted to wage war against Britain and how his constituents felt about it.
Learn how first lady Dolley Madison saved one of America's first national treasures.
Watch a short video about John Quincy Adams and discover how he became the sixth President of the United States.
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The White House and the Capitol building were among the structures destroyed.
The following month, U.S. troops were able to stop another British invasion in the North. And Andrew Jackson, though his soldiers were outnumbered, achieved an impressive victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Both sides agreed to end the conflict later that year, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.
Leaving office in 1817, Madison and Dolley retired once again to Montpelier. Madison kept himself busy by running the plantation and serving on a special board to create the University of Virginia, with the help of Thomas Jefferson. The school opened in 1825, with Jefferson as its rector. The following year, after Jefferson's death, Madison assumed leadership of the university.
In 1829, Madison briefly returned to public life, serving as a delegate to the state's Constitutional Convention. He was also active in the American Colonization Society, which he had co-founded in 1816 with Robert Finley, Andrew Jackson and James Monroe. This organization aimed to return freed slaves to Africa. In 1833, Madison became the society's president.
Madison died on June 28, 1836, at the Montpelier estate. After his death, his 1834 message, "Advice to My Country," was released. He had specifically requested that the note not be made public until after his passing. In part of his final political comment, he wrote: "The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated. Let the open enemy to it be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened; and the disguised one, as the Serpent creeping with his deadly wiles into Paradise."
Regarded as a small, quiet intellectual, Madison used the depth and breadth of his knowledge to create a new type of government. His ideas and thoughts shaped a nation, and established the rights that Americans still enjoy today.
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They are American icons—they're on our dollars and coins, they are the subject of our monuments, and we live our daily lives in the world their ideas helped create. America's "Founding Fathers" include George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and of course, Benjamin Franklin. These men, together with several other key players of their time, structured the American democracy and left a legacy that has shaped the world. But beyond their legends, these men were human beings who led complex and fascinating lives. Learning their stories helps us better understand what made them tick, as well as their influence on our world today.
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