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Interesting Facts about James Madison, America's 4th President

As we all know, facts about the American Presidents can be numerous. However, each fact about a president can be very different for each American President. Take James Madison, His most important fact, would be his greatest historical event governing the United States still today.

James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution. Before the Constitutional Convention, Madison spent many hours studying government structures from around the world before coming up with the basic idea of a blended republic. While he did not personally write every part of the Constitution, he was a key player in all discussions and forcefully argued for many items that would eventually make it into the Constitution including population-based representation in Congress, the need for checks and balances, and support for a strong federal executive.

James Madison & the Bill of Rights

Madison was one of the main proponents for the passage of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights. These were ratified in 1791.

These 10 amendments are;

  1. Freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. Also, the right to petition the government.
  2. Right to bear arms.
  3. Troops may not be quartered in homes in peacetime.
  4. No unreasonable searches or seizures.
  5. Numerous protections against court action including
    • Grand jury indictment required for serious crimes.
    • No Double Jeopardy.
    • A person cannot be forced to testify against themselves.
    • No loss of life, liberty, or property without due process.
  6. Right to a speedy, public, and impartial trial.
  7. Jury trials are required in civil suits where value exceeds $20.
  8. No excessive bail or fines and no cruel or unusual punishments.
  9. Rights not listed are not necessarily denied.
  10. Powers not given expressly to the United States or denied to the states themselves are reserved to the states.

James Madison & Wife Dolley

James Madison was introduced to his wife Dolley by Aaron Burr. Madison was intrigued by the young widow Dolley Payne Todd. Burr was staying at the Payne boarding house in Philadelphia (about three blocks from the current National Constitution Center) James Madison asked Burr to arrange an introduction.

There was a 17-year difference in age between James and Dolley. The couple dated for just four months before their marriage in 1794. James was 43 years old; Dolley was 26. The couple was inseparable after the marriage.

After a brief courtship spanning the spring and summer, 26 year old widow Dolley Payne Todd married 43 year old Congressman James Madison on September 15, 1794. As Madison continued to rise in the political ranks, 1st as Thomas Jefferson's secretary of state and then as a two term president of the United States, Dolley served as a dynamic political partner, national hostess, and first lady. The couple retired to Montpelier in 1817 where the couple managed a large plantation, entertained hundreds of visitors, and jointly edited Madison's significant political papers, including his notes on the Constitutional Convention. Madison predeceased Dolley by thirteen years, after which she traveled back and forth between Montpelier and Washington, D.C. before permanently settling in the nation's capital in 1844.

The couple were together always, and was rarely apart except for Dolley's brief stay in Philadelphia in 1805 for an ulcerated knee. In one of her letters to Madison she wrote;

"The letters of my beloved Husband are always a cordial to my heart."

-Dolley Madison to James Madison November 23, 1805

Biography | Presidential History