James Madison Essay

James Madison Essay

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James Madison

James Madison was born in 1751 and died in 1836. He was the fourth president of the United States (1809-1817). Madison worked for American independence, helped to establish the government of the new nation, and went on to participate in that government as congressman, secretary of state, and president. Madison's work on the Constitution of the United States gave him his best opportunity to exercise his great talents and is generally considered his most valuable contribution. More than any other person, Madison can be considered responsible for making the Bill of Rights part of the Constitution. His intense concern for religious and intellectual freedom led him to seek the strongest possible safeguards of individual liberty.
In 1776, Madison was elected a delegate to the Virginia constitutional convention. Madison wrote the article of the declaration of rights that asserted the right of all "to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience." In December 1779, Madison was elected to the Continental Congress. He took his seat with the Virginia delegation in March 1780 and after the first few months, he assumed a leading role in Congress. In the spring of 1784 Madison again ran for election to the Virginia assembly and won. He served nearly three years there, advocating the strengthening of the federal government.
Madison was one of the first delegates to arrive in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention. Madison proposed a government with strong central powers, including a national judiciary and an elected national executive, and with authority to veto legislation of individual states. Primarily, Madison sought to provide the central government "with positive and complete autho...


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...y, along with statesmen John Quincy Adams and Albert Gallatin, to hold peace talks with the British at Ghent, Belgium. On his instructions they negotiated the Treaty of Ghent, which was signed on December 24, 1814. The primary concession Madison won was surrender by Britain of American territory captured during the war.
A growing prosperity and a spirit of expansion in the United States marked the final two years of Madison's presidency. Madison himself appeared to be swept along by the nationalistic feeling of the times. Although he persisted in a strict interpretation of federal powers under the Constitution, he felt it appropriate now to sign into law several pieces of legislation he had vigorously fought against in earlier years. Among these were a bill creating a national bank and a tariff act designed to protect American industries from foreign competition.

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