James Madison
Cause of Death Age Burial Location President Grave #
Heart failure 85 Montpelier Station, Virginia 25th visited

This obelisk marks the final
resting place of the "Father of the
Constitution", James Madison.

Both the Madison family's cemetery and the
president's home, Montpelier, were being
renovated at the time of my visit in 2005.

The graves of some Madisons were marked

only by pieces of paper mounted to wooden


Buried behind the president is his
famous wife, Dolley.

The gate to the cemetery. Madison was
president during the War of 1812, during
which the British set fire to Washington,

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* The greatest service Madison ever did for the United States was to help frame its Constitution. The statesman, who had been elected to the Continental Congress in 1779, was unsatisfied with the results of the Articles of Confederation and voiced that the U.S. deserved a better basis for its government. In May of 1787, Madison was one of 55 delegates sent to Philadelphia to take part in the Constitutional Convention. He was one of the event's most important attendees, having written the draft of the Virginia Plan. The Virginia Plan proposed that a state's population influence the amount of government officials that represented said state in Congress. While this appealed to delegates from larger bodies, those from smaller ones like New Jersey did not approve. In the end, a compromise was reached. The number of members in one section of Congress, the House of Representatives, would be based on each state's population, while they would all have equal representation in the other half, the Senate. Madison also contributed to the Federalist Papers, a collection of essays that advocated for the adoption of the Constitution. The document was adopted by the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.

* James Madison was not finished, however. In 1789, he introduced to Congress a list of twelve rights and freedoms that he felt should be added to the Constitution. Among them was the right to trial by jury, the right to bear arms, and freedom of religion. The latter ten on the list eventually became the first ten amendments to the Constitution and dubbed the Bill of Rights. For his contribution to both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Madison was dubbed the "Father of the Constitution". The statesman himself was not fond of this nickname, arguing that that Constitution was not "the off-spring of a single brain," but "the work of many heads and many hands."

* For eight years, Madison was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1789 to 1797. An opponent of Alexander Hamilton's financial policies, in the 1790's Madison aided in the formation and development of the Democratic-Republican Party, which he remained an important leader of. He became the secretary of state after Thomas Jefferson took over as president in 1801 and became involved in a landmark Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison. Just before he left office, President John Adams appointed several Federalists to positions as circuit judges and such. Though the appointments were approved by Congress the following day, March 4th, Thomas Jefferson ordered for the commissions to not be delivered to the appointees, preventing them from taking office. One angered appointee, William Marbury, requested that the Supreme Court order the secretary of state, James Madison, to deliver his commission. The court concluded that, according to the Judiciary Act of 1789, Madison should have delivered Marbury his commission. However, it also declared the Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional, keeping William Marbury and his fellow appointees from the posts they had been promised. This case marked the first time the Supreme Court ruled a law unconstitutional and established the concept of judicial review.

* Despite the unpopularity of the Embargo Act of 1807, which Madison was an advocate of, the Democratic-Republican was elected America's fourth president in 1808. There had already been tension between the United States and Great Britain before Madison took office, mainly due to trade disputes, but their relationship grew worse during the early years of his administration. A group of congressmen called the War Hawks, which included Henry Clay, began pushing for war with Britain. Finally, citing the impressment of American sailors and the seizure of U.S. cargo, Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war on June 1, 1812. The unprepared USA took quite a beating in what critics called "Mr. Madison's War", and had its capital invaded and burned by the British in August of 1814. Still, the U.S. won several key battles late that year and proved to be a formidable foe. Several months later, a peace treaty ending the war came into effect and restored the relationship of the two opponents. The end of the war and the collapse of the Federalist Party helped bring on what would be called the Era of Good Feelings, which would continue into the following administration.

* After the burning of the White House, James and Dolley Madison took up residence in an oddly-shaped structure called the Octagon House there in Washington. Succeeded as president by his secretary of state in 1817, the shortest commander-in-chief retired to his plantation in Virginia. Plagued by health problems and financial trouble, the former president lived for another nineteen years. During that time, he served as the rector of the University of Virginia and prepared his papers for posthumous publication so that his wife would have some financial support after he was gone. In 1836, after a long period of ill health, James Madison finally passed away. On June 29th, the day after he died, the statesman was laid to rest in a ceremony attended by family and friends, with his slaves watching from nearby.

First Lady: Dolley Payne Todd Madison

  - Spouse: Dolley Payne Todd Madison (m. 1794-1836)

Political Party:
Democratic-Republican Party

Vice President:
George Clinton (1809-1812)

                         Elbridge Gerry (1813-1814)

Last Words:
"Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear."

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