Friday, November 05, 2004

The Federalist: Biography of James Madison

The Federalist: Biography of James Madison - Brief biography which complements the Federalist Papers.

From the site:

JAMES MADISON was perhaps the hardest working & most widely respected man of his day. Commonly hailed as the Father of our Constitution, Madison had more to do with its conception than did any other man. A strong Republican, he was later elected President of the United States. Born in to an aristocratic family in Port Conway, Virginia, he was the eldest of 12 children. He entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1769. He graduated in 1771, completing a four year degree in two years. He then studied theology, history, & law, both at the college & on his own. His public career began in 1774 when he was appointed a member of the King George County Committee for Public Safety in Virginia at the age of 23. Madison spent the rest of his life in service to his nation.

In 1776 he was a member of the Virginia constitutional committee, a body that drafted Virginia's first constitution & a Bill of Rights which later became a model for the Bill of Rights amended to the U.S. Constitution. Madison very actively supported religious toleration & was a leading advocate for the separation of church & state. In this work he found a life-long partner & friend in Thomas Jefferson.

In 1779 Madison was elected to represent the state of Virginia to the Continental Congress. He established himself as a leader in congress & as a tireless advocate for a federal structure. In 1785 he had an opportunity to exercise the respect & influence he had earned in support of a federal government. Washington & Madison organized the Alexandria Conference in order to settle commercial dispute between Virginia & Maryland concerning the use of the Potomac River. The conference was a great success. When the Maryland delegation suggested a larger meeting to include representatives from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, & Virginia in order to adopt a uniform commercial system, Madison saw the potential for a larger scheme. He felt that a meeting of all the states should follow in order to explore all commercial concerns & to amend the Articles of Confederation. The Annapolis Convention met in 1786 with much arguing & little result. Only five states attended. Madison & Hamilton took this opportunity to launch a general call for a constitutional convention. They persuaded the presiding delegates to endorse a meeting to "take into consideration the situation of the United States." They later persuaded the Continental Congress, reluctant though is was, to endorse this conference—but only for the purpose of modifying the Articles of Confederation.

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