James Madison was one of the main architects of the US Constitution along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. Although it was not his exclusive work, he came to be hailed as the 'Father of the US Constitution', an appellation that he consistently denied stating that the Constitution was not his sole handiwork. James Madison was also the author of the first ten amendments in the US Constitution and is also referred to as the 'Father of the Bill of Rights'. A part of the 'Federalist Papers', which he wrote in 1788, is still regarded largely as the most important commentary on the Constitution, and the greatest pillar of America's pluralist socio-political ideology.
In the early days of his political career, James Madison worked as the leader in the House of Representatives with President George Washington. Together they tried to organize the new Federal Government.
In the process, James Madison had a conflict with the Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton that led to his break up from the Federalist Party. In association with Thomas Jefferson, Madison coordinated the Democratic-Republican Party in 1791.
From 1801 to 1809, James Madison worked as the US Secretary of State. He played a major role in working out the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. He was also a major influence in perpetuating the Embargo Act of 1807, in order to stop the seizure of American ships by fleets of Great Britain and France. It also banned British ships from trading with America. The Act became immensely unpopular because it proved to be highly detrimental to the cause of the American traders. Merchants from New England were particularly opposed to this law.
In the 1808 US Presidential Election James Madison, as the Democratic-Republican candidate, recorded a win over the Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. After Madison took to the US Presidency, he played a major role in protecting the economic rights of the US. He took the initiative to start the Second Bank of the United States, although he had earlier opposed the proposition along with Jefferson when Alexander Hamilton proposed it. The law was sanctioned by James Madison in 1816.
During his Presidency, Madison led the country to the War of 1812 against Great Britain. Britain won the war initially, but the win was far from decisive. There were certain areas where US emerged as the winner. In 1815, when the war finally ended with the Treaty of Ghent, it was on a positive note for the US. It was a great achievement for a young nation like US, fighting against a major naval force like Great Britain.
After James Madison retired from the US President's office, he concentrated on the tobacco plantation in the state of Virginia. In the year of 1829, he once again returned to politics. As a legislator, he took measures to revise the constitution of Virginia State. However, he led a quiet and retired last days, and died at the age of 85.
James Madison was a leading political theorist of his times. Through his political actions, Madison was intent on putting republicanism in the US on a strong footing. He had an earnest belief that an emerging nation should maintain a serious fight against corruption and aristocracy. He also worked tirelessly to end the culture of factionalism, which he thought was the biggest deterrent towards achieving National Unity. Some of the quotes by James Madison have become popular over the decades. A few of these quotations include:
- "All men having power ought to be mistrusted."
- "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."
- "Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power."
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