James Madison Is Born

James Madison, "Father of the Constitution" and fourth president of the United States, was born on March 16, 1751.* A graduate of the College of New Jersey at Princeton, where he studied the liberal arts, Madison wed his love of learning to a deep sense of civic responsibility to charter and to lead the young United States of America.

Following the outbreak of the American Revolution, the Second Continental Congress authorized the colonies to adopt new constitutions. Elected in 1776 to help shape Virginia's constitution, James Madison drafted that document's guarantee of religious freedom. Years later, in 1785, Madison wrote a Memorial and Remonstrance, one of the most significant American statements on the relationship of government to religion, to defeat a bill proposed by Patrick Henry to provide financial aid to "teachers of the Christian religion." In its place Madison sponsored and guided to passage an Act for Establishing Religious Freedom written (in 1779) by Thomas Jefferson. This important piece of legislation permanently severed the link between government and religion in Virginia, and paved the way for a national separation of church and state.

James Madison (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was an American politician and political philosopher who served as the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817), and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Considered to be the "Father of the Constitution", he was the principal author of the document. In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution. The first President to have served in the United States Congress, he was a leader in the 1st United States Congress, drafted many basic laws and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution (said to be based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights), and thus is also known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". As a political theorist, Madison's most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority.

What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty & Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual & surest support?”

— James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822