The New Student's Reference Work/Madison, James

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Madison, James, fourth president of the United States, his two terms extending from 1809 to 1817, was born at Port Conway, Va., March 16, 1751, and graduated at Princeton College in 1772. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1780 and in 1784 to the legislature of Virginia, in which he was largely instrumental in securing the fullest religious liberty to the people. He also was one of the leading spirits in the convention of 1787, which framed the constitution of the United States; and in great measure it was due to his influence that the instrument was ratified by the legislature of Virginia. Madison was a member of Congress during Washington's administration; and, although he retired to private life when John Adams became president in 1797, he was the author of the Resolutions of 1798, adopted by the legislature of Virginia in opposition to the famous alien-and-sedition laws of the Adams administration. During Jefferson's administration (1801-9) Madison filled the office of secretary of state with such ability that he was chosen Jefferson's successor and inaugurated president, March 4,1809. The principal feature of his administration was the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States, which was terminated by the treaty of Ghent, Dec. 14, 1814, although the battle of New Orleans was fought on the 8th of January following. On retiring from the presidency Madison took up his residence at Montpelier, Va., where he died on June 28, 1836. While not distinguished for brilliancy of intellect or great oratorical powers, Madison was a pure and able statesman, and was well-worthy of the universal respect accorded him. See Life by Adams and Life and Times by Stoddard.