James Madison biography

James Madison

US President

1751 – 1836

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Who was James Madison?

James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist, the fourth President of the United States. He is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being instrumental in the drafting of the United States Constitution and as the key champion and author of the United States Bill of Rights. He served as a politician much of his adult life.

After the constitution had been drafted, Madison became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify it. His collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay produced the Federalist Papers. Circulated only in New York at the time, they would later be considered among the most important polemics in support of the Constitution. He was also a delegate to the Virginia constitutional ratifying convention, and was instrumental to the successful ratification effort in Virginia. Like most of his contemporaries, Madison changed his political views during his life. During the drafting and ratification of the constitution, he favored a strong national government, though later he grew to favor stronger state governments, before settling between the two extremes late in his life.

Famous Quotes:

  • Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.
  • It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.
  • We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
  • And as it [the federal district] is to be appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it; as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights, and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it; as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing parties to the cession; as they will have had their voice in the election of the Government which is to exercise authority over them; as a municipal Legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them; and as the authority of the Legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession, will be derived from the whole people of the State, in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be obviated.
  • The genius of Republican liberty, seems to demand on one side, not only that all power should be derived from the people; but, that those entrusted with it should be kept in dependence on the people, by a short duration of their appointments; and, that, even during this short period, the trust should be placed not in a few, but in a number of hands. Stability, on the contrary, requires, that the hands, in which power is lodged, should continue for a length of time, the same. A frequent change of men will result from a frequent return of electors, and a frequent change of measures, from a frequent change of men; whilst energy in Government requires not only a certain duration of power, but the execution of it by a single hand.
  • If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
  • Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
  • The free system of government we have established is so congenial with reason, with common sense, and with a universal feeling, that it must produce approbation and a desire of imitation, as avenues may be found for truth to the knowledge of nations.
  • Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness.
  • The danger of disturbing the public tranquillity by interesting too strongly the public passions, is a still more serious objection against a frequent reference of constitutional questions to the decision of the whole society.

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Born
Mar 16, 1751
Port Conway
Parents
Spouses
Children
Religion
  • Episcopal Church
  • Deism
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Education
  • Princeton University
    (1769 - )
Died
Jun 28, 1836
Montpelier
Resting place
Montpelier

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

Citation

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"James Madison." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 29 Jul 2021. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/james_madison>.

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