Biography and Political Career of James Madison – One of The Founding Fathers of The USA

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Words: 1826 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

Words: 1826|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

James Madison once said, “Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.” This quote stood out to me because over the past month we have been talking and learning about the executive branch and how the Framers were scared that the president/ congress could have too much power causing a monarchy. James Madison was born on March 16, 1751, at Port Conway, Virginia. Madison entered politics as a young delegate to the Virginia convention in 1776, which drafted the state constitution and declaration of rights. In 1780 he became a delegate to the Continental Congress. He played a major role in creating the public domain out of the Western lands and worked to defeat Spain’s efforts to close the Mississippi River to America. After his return to his home in Virginia, he was elected to the state House of Delegates. On the convention floor, Madison was a big part of debates. His Virginia Plan, introduced to the delegates, was a plan of government that with many alterations eventually became the Constitution. Madison did a number of things like; Collaborating with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay on the Federalist Papers; leading the Democratic-Republican Party; serving as Secretary of State; becoming the fourth president of the United States; and serving as commander-in-chief in the War of 1812. As a respected leader, Madison was known for his brilliant drive in politics, careful preparation and hard work. Madison was one of the principal founders of the American republican form of government. He helped plan and approve the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as a founding father.

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In Madison's earlier years he entered the College of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1769. He graduated two years later and remained for an additional year's study. After completing graduate studies, Madison returned home and got involved in local politics. He served as a member of the Orange County Committee of Public Safety. In 1776, he was elected to the Virginia Legislature. Madison soon began forming a relationship with Thomas Jefferson, a young innovative mind while serving in the state legislature. During Madison’s early years he campaigned for improvement in the Articles of Confederation. He became progressively worried about the disunity of the states and the weakness of the central government after the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. In 1808 James Madison was elected for president. On June 1, 1812, Madison drove Congress to declare war against Great Britain, the first war message by an American president. After discussions with British minister Erskine, Madison issued an announcement known as the Erskine Agreement, revoking the embargo on Britain. Erskine leads Madison to believe that Britain will revoke its Orders in Council. On March 25, however, the American envoy in Britain learns that British foreign secretary has canceled the Erskine Agreement. The news does not reach Madison till six weeks later. On August 9, Madison set aside his announcement on establishing trade with Britain and resumed a policy of non-intercourse.

Madison vetoes two bills of Congress, one granting land in the Mississippi Territory to a Baptist congregation and the other incorporating an Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. Madison argues that both bills violate the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment. The First Amendment's Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.

On November 7th 1811, after acknowledging the danger posed by Shawnee leader Tecumseh, who hopes to assemble a confederation of tribes. General William Henry Harrison, the governor of the Indian Territory, carriers out a pre-emptive strike on Tecumseh. Harrison's militia is barely successful at the Battle of Tippecanoe, an engagement that serves as a prelude to the War of 1812. Tecumseh flees to Canada and British protection. On December 18, Madison proclaims the Battle of Tippecanoe a victory that will restore peace to the northwestern frontier. Then, in October of 1811, Harrison set out with a force of 1000 men towards Prophetstown. James Madison, feeling the pressures of war forming around him, called on Congress early for this Annual Address. On November 5th, he addressed congress about the British hostilities on the seas, and asked congress to begin making preparations for possible war, as well as announcing the march on the Shawnee tribe.' In this disposition is included a force consisting of regulars and militia, embodied in the Indiana Territory and marched toward our northwestern frontier. This measure was made requisite by several murders and depredations committed by Indians, but more especially by the menacing preparations and aspect of a combination of them on the Wabash, under the influence and direction of a fanatic of the Shawanese tribe'.

Madison issues a proclamation authorizing occupation of West Florida, also claimed by Spain, as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Many Americans, including former President Thomas Jefferson, thought that West Florida was included as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase itself implied that West Florida might be a part of the deal, and Jefferson pressed his claim against Spain, although France insisted West Florida had not been part of the purchase. Both France and Britain harassed American shipping, and Madison speculated that Britain might capture Florida. In use as a base to attack the United States in the event that the United States joined the war. Then, in late September, Americans in West Florida seized control of the area, proclaimed an independent republic, and offered it to the United States. Madison did not support those actions and continued to reason that West Florida already belonged to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

As stated previously, James Madison was both a realistic politician as well as a president who exercised moral leadership. For example, Madison served as a delegate in the constitutional convention and through his idea of the Virginia Plan, was one of the founding fathers of the Constitution. During the Non-Intercourse Act in 1811, Madison was greatly attacked in the press that friends mentioned to him that he should take legal action. Madison being a leader and role model said no to taking legal action and was viciously attacked. Although some may judge Madison on his political achievement, no one can say that he did not stand up for freedom of the press or religion. James Madison did not use the media to develop presidential power during his time. Madison was elected president in 1812 and did not have technology like we do today, instead the presidents would have several messages to congress, as well as newspapers to distribute information around the world. Another way in which Madison “used the media” was by traveling around while giving several speeches or messages. He also wrote several articles that were published for the public to read. When it came to foresight, Madison used it during the conflict between America, France, and Britain when he occupied Florida. He also used foresight during our second war for independence, it also provided a chance to take over Canada, make the Spanish flee from Florida, halt Indian forthcoming, and obtain independence through maritime.

James Madison was not opposed to long standing traditions, or popular ideas. He along with the presidents before and after him only served as president for a maximum amount of two terms. It wasn't until FDR that it was thought okay to serve a longer term, it was a precedent that George Washington had set to serve only two terms. He also supported the popular ideals of not just having a federal government, but of each state/colony also having a equally strong government. James Madison was a well-respected man, he wrote most of the federalist papers, a big part of the constitution, and a lot of the bill of rights. When Jefferson became president, Madison became secretary of state and served as his chief for the next eight years as a loyal party supporter and foreign policy adviser. After retiring, Madison came back and was elected for president for an additional ten years. Everyone loved and respected James Madison, especially due to the war of 1812. Madison was also indeed a very responsible man through the Virginia Plan Madison thought in order to prevent the abuse of power, a system called checks and balances would help to structure this idea.

Along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, the three men managed to write a series of persuasive papers that were later published in the New York newspaper, known as the federalist papers. This goes to show how selfless James Madison was during this life. Madison wanted to make sure that Americans had freedom of speech, and were protected against 'unreasonable searches and seizures' and received 'a speedy and public trial' if faced with charges, among other recommendations. Madison was viewed as a trustworthy and dependable president during the 1800’s. He had several great contributions to our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Articles of Confederation. People of the time could trust their president and know that our country was in good hands. Madison was a great president who trusted upon when faced with a war or conflict. I would rate James Madison a great president in conclusion to what he has contributed to during his presidency.

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In conclusion researching about a president has taught me a lot about how a presidency should look and some tasks a president may encounter. Getting James Madison was a great choice that I made because now I got the opportunity to see how being a president was back in the early 1800’s. James Madison was an amazing person with a huge brain full of wonderful knowledge. Coming up with not only the Virginia Plan, but also checks and balances was a huge contribution to rebuilding the constitution. The Virginia Plan is a great way to keep our legislation more open and efficient. Having a system like checks and balances to keep our government from abusing power or forming a monarchy was a great idea that James Madison came up with. I have also learned a bunch of ways to campaign for yourself when there is a lack of social media, television, advertisements, or anything that could help get your message out to the public. Madison had to travel to various places and post several messages for everyone to read. I personally think that James Madison was a very important president and will never be forgotten. I will now leave you with some of the last words that Madison left behind. 'The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated. Let the open enemy to it be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened; and the disguised one, as the Serpent creeping with his deadly wiles into Paradise.'

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Biography And Political Career Of James Madison – One Of The Founding Fathers Of The Usa. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
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