James Madison
Burial Location Visited Constitution Signer Grave #
Montpelier Station, Virginia July 12, 2005 3rd Visited




"Father of the Constitution" James
Madison is buried in the family
cemetery on the grounds of his
slave plantation, Montpelier. His
wife, popular first lady Dolley
Madison, is interred with him.


James Madison served as Thomas
Jefferson's
secretary of state, and
he was the defendant in the
landmark Supreme Court case
Marbury v. Madison that established
the bench's judicial review powers.



Fast Facts *

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

- Born: March 16, 1751

- Died: June 28, 1836

- Age: 85

- Cause of Death: Heart Failure

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

-
Cemetery: Madison Family Cemetery, Montpelier Station, Virginia
- GPS Coordinates: 38°13'04.4"N 78°10'29.5"W



* * * Background on James Madison * * *

* In May 1787, a group of delegates convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address the ineffectiveness of the Articles of Confederation that governed the nation. They emerged after four months of debate with an entirely new replacement. Thirty-nine attendees signed the proposed Constitution, including thirty-six-year-old James Madison, who was its primary contributor. At the start of the convention, Madison provided presiding officer George Washington with his recently-written "Vices of the Political System of the United States." This served as the foundation for the construction of the Constitution. Madison also devised the Virginia Plan, which proposed a bicameral legislature. This element was incorporated into the Connecticut Compromise that combined Madison's proposal with the New Jersey Plan. To garner support for the document's ratification among the independent states, Madison partnered with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to co-author a series of essays that later came to be called the Federalist Papers. Later, as a member of the First Congress under the Constitution, Madison introduced twelve amendments that addressed issues such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments. The ten amendments that were ratified are known as the Bill of Rights.

* During the Napoleonic Wars between France and Great Britain, the U.S. tried to stay neutral so it could trade with both countries. This angered the British, and in 1807 they decreed that any American ship intending to trade with France must first stop in Britain and pay a fee. The British Navy then began to capture American vessels and impress sailors and merchants into service, fortifying its numbers for the war with the French. In response, the Jefferson administration enacted the successive (and ineffective) Embargo Act of 1807 and the Non-Intercourse Act that barred commercial activity with both Britain and France. The antagonism on the high seas continued during James Madison’s presidency, and in June 1812, after diplomatic efforts failed, he requested a declaration of war on Britain. Congress acquiesced, but early campaigns were unsuccessful for the U.S., whose military had been reduced during the Jefferson administration. The conflict, derisively referred to by opponents as "Mr. Madison's War," consumed two and a half defining years of his presidency.

* The War of 1812 precipitated a number of troublesome developments for the U.S., including the surrender of Fort Detroit and a threat of secession from trade-reliant New Englanders. The most humiliating episode, however, was the British invasion of Washington, D.C. on August 24, 1814. President Madison's military strategy positioned the majority of U.S. forces in the North, which left the capital city relatively unprotected. The British Army thus easily marched from its victorious battle in Bladensburg, Maryland, to Washington. In retaliation for the destruction of the Canadian capital of York, the Britons burned much of D.C., including the Executive Mansion. No one was at home; the president escaped earlier in the day, and First Lady Dolley Madison vacated shortly before the incursion. After the brief occupation ended, the Madisons returned to a city in ashes. One of the undamaged buildings was the Octagon House, located two streets over from the ruins of the Executive Mansion. Its owner, Colonel John Tayloe, offered his dwelling as a temporary residence for the Madisons. It was there that the president signed the Treaty of Ghent in February 1815, ending hostilities. By that point, the U.S. had turned its luck around and seen enough success to negotiate for more favorable terms with the British peace commissioners.




Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     


Hickey, Donald. "An American Perspective on the War of 1812." PBS.org. Accessed March 20, 2019. http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/american-perspective/.

"James Madison and the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787." loc.gov. Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.loc.gov/collections/james-madison-papers/articles-and-essays/james-madison-and-the- federal-constitutional-convention-of-1787/.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

McCoy, Drew R. "James Madison." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 54-65. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.


The Presidents. "Washington to Monroe (1789-1825)." History Channel, 2005.

The War of 1812. Directed by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey. Walpole, NH: Florentine Films, 2011.

"War of 1812-1815." history.state.gov. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1801- 1829/war-of-1812.

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