James Madison

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Part of the P.O.T.U.S Series

Who: James Madison, Jr.

What: 4th President of the United States (1809-17), ‘Father of the Constitution’, champion of the Bill of Rights

Where: Born Port Conway, Virginia Colony; died Orange, Virginia

Why: One of the three authors of the Federalist Papers, co-author of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, considered the Father of the Constitution, President during the War of 1812

When: Born March 16, 1751; died June 28, 1836

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy” – James Madison

Madison

Revolutionary

James Madison was born to a Virginian tobacco planter, the eldest of twelve children. He attended the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, studying Latin, Greek, geography, mathematics, rhetoric and philosophy. He also studied speech and debate, founding the American Whig Society, gained fluency in Hebrew, and studied law. Despite his small stature, he served in the Revolutionary War as the colonel of the Orange County militia, but did not see combat. He was a delegate to the Virginia Convention and became member of the Continental Congress, before serving as a US Representative during the presidency of George Washington. He and his good friend Thomas Jefferson helped found the Democratic-Republic Party and he served as Jefferson’s Secretary of State.

Father of the Constitution

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he drafted most of the US Constitution, before writing the Federalist papers with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in order to help get approval for the Constitution. He also was the main author of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. The War of 1812 broke out after his reelection, as Congress declared war on Britain, who had been seizing American trade goods. The war ended in 1814 with no pre-war issues resolved, though British troops managed to march on Washington and burn the White House and Library of Congress. After his presidency, he retired to Virginia, remaining active in politics until his death in 1836.

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Thomas Jefferson

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Part of the P.O.T.U.S Series

Who: Thomas Jefferson

What: 3rd President of the United States, 2nd Vice President of the United States, 1st United States Secretary of State, Founding Father, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, architect, agriculturalist, astronomer, writer, palaeontologist and polymath

Where: Born Shadwell, Virginia; died Charlottesville, Virginia

Why: Presided over the Louisiana Purchase, the establishment of the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Lewis Clark expedition and the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade

When: Born April 13, 1743; died July 4, 1826

“The government is best that governs least” – Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson

Polymath

Thomas Jefferson was born into a planter family, the third of ten children. He studied philosophy, metaphysics and mathematics at the College of William and Mary, graduating in just two years, and worked as a lawyer. As a member of the Second Continental Congress, he was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence. He was minister to France from 1785-1789, and was chosen by George Washington to be the first Secretary of State. He believed in small federal government, strong state governments, and on these principles founded the Democratic Party. He ran against John Adams in the 1796 election, and was elected Vice President by virtue of receiving the second highest tally.

President

He defeated Adams in the 1800 election, and served two full terms. After the Louisiana Purchase, he sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the new land, passed the Embargo Act of 1807, making foreign trade illegal. This isolationist policy was repealed after just two years, but lessened American reliance on foreign merchants and set a strong economic foundation for the isolationist policy it would follow for the next century. He also brought Ohio into the Union as the 17th state, crucially passing the Ordinance of 1787 which prohibited slavery in the new territories and states, fuelling the issue that would eventually lead to the Civil War. After his presidency he founded the University of Virginia, and died in 1826 on the same day as his rival and friend John Adams, aged 83.

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