James Madison was born on March 16, 1751, in Port Conway, Virginia, to James Madison Sr. and Nellie Conway Madison. The oldest of 12 children, Madison was raised on the family plantation, Montpelier, in Orange County, Virginia. At age 18, Madison left Montpelier to attend the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).
Montpelier, James Madison's Virginia plantation home, was established by his grandfather in 1723. An estimated 100 slaves lived at Montpelier when Madison owned it. The property was sold after this death. Today the estate, which covers some 2,600 acres, is open to the public.
Through the years, Madison’s friendship with Jefferson would continue to thrive. When Jefferson became the third president of the United States, he appointed Madison as secretary of state. In this position, which he held from 1801 to 1809, Madison helped acquire the Louisiana Territory from the French in 1803, doubling the size of America.
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
impact & Legacy
For many historians, Madison is a puzzle: "the Father of the Constitution," co-founder of the Democratic-Republican Party, and brilliant secretary of state under Jefferson, yet he is not rated as a spectacular President. Part of the explanation for this contrast has to do with Madison's personal strengths.
James was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 100 pounds. Madison and George Washington are the only presidents who signed the Constitution. Both of his vice presidents, George Clinton and Elbridge Gerry, died in office. He never held a job outside of politics. His last words were "I talk better lying down." Madison was related to both George Washington and Zachary Taylor.