4. James Madison


James Madison

James Madison was the fourth president of the United States, father of the Constitution, 5th Secretary of State, and champion and author of the Bill of Rights.

James Madison was born in Virginia in 1751. When he was of age, he inherited hundreds of slaves from his father who was in the tobacco business.

James Madison is credited for being the father of the Constitution. This name was given to him because his Virginia Plan was the base of the Constitution. The Virginia Plan was such a great piece of work that many states adopted its language as the right path for the country, Madison was only 26 years old when he finished the Virginia Plan.

James Madison joined Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers. The papers were a series of 85 newspaper articles published in New York to explain how the proposed Constitution would work, mainly by responding to criticisms from anti-federalists. The Constitution was soon ratified by the 13 colonies; much credit was given to the federalist papers.

Politicians were happy with the Constitutions, but Madison pushed the first Congress to pass amendments to the Constitution. Madison turned into the Congress 20 new amendments to the Constitution, but only the last ten were ratified in 1791. The amendments were later called the Bill of Rights. Madison was ahead of the game, the one amendment that he wanted that wasn’t approved was the language of a proposed amendment that guaranteed national sovereignty over the states. Some argued if this was ratified, then the Civil War could have been avoided.

At the time of ratification of the Bill of Rights, Madison was for a strong federal government. Later in life believed in strong state rights; this showed the transition of how a founding father was a different person in the early 1800s opening the door for the argument for Civil War.

Madison teamed up with Thomas Jefferson to form the first political party in the United States. Jefferson and Madison didn’t agree with the Federalist on domestic and foreign policy, because of the differences, they helped to form the Democrat-Republican party. This was the start of factions in our political system causing great difficulty for the Washington and Adams administration. Jefferson and Madison were pro-French and was working hard to make sure this relationship continued to stay strong. This led the way for the Louisiana purchase which doubled the size of the United States. These new state were later turned into strong slave states, ironically leading to the Civil War.

James Madison was the fifth Secretary of State under the Jefferson administration, and when he was leader in the House of Reps Madison tried to use the first case of Gerrymandering to try to block Patrick Henry for the House of Reps. Madison used the Gerrymandering laws of requesting the person to live in the district, but this was later ruled unconstitutional. Madison and Henry was political enemies.

The Pros/Cons of James Madison Presidency:

Pros:

1. Helped beat the British in the War of 1812. Although some scholars say we lost the war, this was the first national test for this country after the ratification of the Constitution. At our weakest point in American history, the USA fought enough to prolong the war and Great Britain was no long the great super power.

2. Madison’s wife Dolley Payne was the first First Lady of the White House. When the British was burning down Washington DC, she helped save precise pictures such as the George Washington painting. This painting still hangs today in the White House thanks to Dolley. She was a brave woman who understood history. The White House was burned to the ground hours after her departure from Washington DC.

3. As President, Madison was in support of the Indian nation. He advised generals to help protect Indian land which would stop hunting and switched to farming. Madison understood the Indians were here first, and the future of the United States had to include then into the political process. The problem was the new-school Generals such as Andrew Jackson wasn’t in agreement. Andrew Jackson would later be President and was the President who enforced the brutal policy of forced migration of the Indians out west. This was called the Trail of Tears.

4. It’s hard to believe at one-point pirates were paid off by the USA. This changed in 1815 when Madison approved the Second Barbary War, to end the American practice of paying tribute to the pirate states of North Africa in the Mediterranean. It marked the beginning of the end of the age of piracy in that region.

5. Re-ratified the second Bank of the United States. Before the War of 1812, Madison allowed Congress to the first Bank of the United States. This was all about politics because Hamilton was for a national bank. Hamilton’s argument was the USA need a national bank in case of a war, but the stubborn James Madison allowed the bank to not be renewed. Without a national bank, the USA almost lost to the British because of lack of funding. In order to support a national military, the Bank of the United States was needed. In 1816, Madison finally agreed with a national bank, and the Bank of the United States was re-ratified.

Cons:

1. President James Madison was without a Vice President for four years. The previous Vice President Elbridge Gerry died in office.

2. The Madison Administration allowed the first Bank of United States twenty-year charter to expire in 1811. His discontent for Federalist ideology proved to be almost fatal. The War of 1812 was unfunded, disorganized and out gunned. Without the first Bank of the United States, his administration was day away from losing the war.

3. Repealed the Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 was the straw that broke the camel back. Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 was a trade policy to not trade with both Britain and France due to War. Once Madison repealed the Embargo, United States continued trade with both countries. This lead to the War of 1812.

4. James Madison had a cozy relationship with a man thought of as a tyrant named Napoleon. Some people might argue because of this relationship, Napoleon helped shape his foreign policy. His continuous defense for the French caused friction during his political career. James Madison was one of the main people who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with France.

5. The break-up of the Democrat-Republican party was caused by the rift between Henry Clay and President James Madison on War with Britain. This created the modern-day Democrat and Republican parties. The only party to relinquish the White House since was the Whig party championed by Andrew Jackson.

Something you didn’t know about James Madison:

James Madison not only had the first “First Lady,” he is also the only President to have two Vice Presidents die in office. This could be the reason why he didn’t have a Vice President in his final four years in office.

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