James Madison:

He was the fourth President of the United States and served two consecutive terms from 1809-1817.

Nicknames: Father of the Constitution, Little Jemmy

Quote: “In framing a government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this:  You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

I read the book “James Madison: The Founding Father” by Robert Allen Rutland.

While reading this book, I learned the following fun facts about our fourth President:

  • He had a Virginia estate named “Montpelier’
  • Madison county was named after him even before he became President (as in “The Bridges of Madison County”)
  • He suffered from hemorrhoids and loose bowels almost constantly through his life
  • He initiated the Bill of Rights
  • Madison was close friends with Thomas Jefferson his entire life
  • While friends with Alexander Hamilton in his early years, he hated him later in his life
  • Was a friend and confidant of George Washington during Washington’s first term
  • He disliked hard cider
  • After being spurned by a woman in his younger days, Madison married a woman almost 18 years younger than himself after courting her in secret because she was a Quaker
  • The U.S. almost collapsed due to speculation on war debts stemming from Hamiltonian financial policy
  • Madison was Secretary of State for Thomas Jefferson after he had sworn and entered retirement from political life; Jefferson had to coax him back
  • He went head-to-head with Napolean over shipping rights
  • He was considered an “Anglophobe” (someone who believes the British are out to get them)
  • He tried to take Florida by force
  • Louisiana and Indiana both became States during his Presidency
  • He allowed the Official Bank of the United States to be dissembled in 1811 and then rechartered in 1816
  • He fired his Secretary of State, Robert Smith, because Smith was working behind his back. Madison replaced him with James Monroe.
  • His first Vice President, George Clinton, died in office in 1812 and was replaced by Eldridge Gerry, who also died while serving as the Vice President
  • Madison sent the first Presidential request for war for the War of 1812 against Great Britain; Americans called it “Mr. Madison’s War”
  • He authorized and supervised the invasion of Canada
  • Madison was the President in office when the British invaded the U.S. and burned the White House and many other government buildings in retaliation for US forces burning York (Toronto)
  • Dolley Madison was credited with saving the famous portrait of George Washington from the burning White House, along with other important items
  • James Madison loved Madeira – and kept his house constantly stocked with quality bottles
  • favorite foods (via The Awl) – Chicken and okra soup, pickled eggs, corn oysters, popovers, seed cakes, gingerbread, ice cream, and Yard of Flannel.
  • He was the first United States President to be generally liked at the end of his final term
  • Unfortunately, he believed that blacks and whites could not flourish together
  • Madison supported a freed slave resettlement concept – he wanted freed slaves shipped to the Western coast of Africa
  • In his retirement, he served as President of the Albemarle Agricultural Society
  • He was on the first Board of Trustees for the University of Virginia and also served as its rector until 1834
  • He tried to start a public education system in Kentucky
  • He was entrusted with the settlement of Thomas Jefferson’s will and the internment of his remains
  • He was the final survivor of the Convention of 1776
  • He died in 1836

<–Thomas Jefferson *****   James Monroe –>

Post title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s song, “The Presidents”