[As Mr. Madison is
elevated to the Chief Magistracy of the American Republic, the following
authentic sketch oh is political life, cannot fail of being acceptable
to the public.]
Madison is a native of the county of Orange, in the
state of Virginia. His father col. James Madison, was a man of great
respectability; he provided handsomely for a large family, and to Mr.
Madison his eldest son, he gave a considerable estate, including his
Mr. Madison completed his education at
Princeton College, where he was so much distinguished for his genius,
application, acquirements and amiable qualities, that he possessed the
esteem and respect of the president, professors and students of the
seminary, in as high a degree as any young man ever did.
Mr. Madison's first appearance in
public life was in the year 1776. He was elected in the spring of that
year a member of the convention of Virginia, for his native county. By
that convention the present government of Virginia was formed, and the
delegates of Virginia were instructed in the month of May, in that year,
to vote in Congress for the declaration of independence.-- Mr. Madison,
it is said, took no part in the business of that assembly, owing to his
extreme dissidence. He was soon afterwards appointed a member of the
executive council of Virginia, and continued a member of that board
until he was delegated to represent that Commonwealth in the Congress
which sat in the year 1779. During all this time, it is not known that
Mr. Madison ever made a public display of his abilities, and it is
presumed he owed his advancement to the strong pledge that was made from
some of our most distinguished citizens for his talents. Of that number
Mr. Jefferson is believed to have been the first to distinguish, and
most active to bring into his country's service the superior mind of Mr.
Madison, whose dissidence and backwardness were such that it is possible
that his services might have been lost to the nation, if the utmost
efforts had not been
||made to draw
him into the active exercise of his powers. It is by a gentleman who
knew Mr. Madison well, when he first went to Congress, that he would not
in that body, small, as it was, been able to conquer his extreme
embarrassment, if it had not been of the great pressure arising from the
importance of the crisis, and his being sometimes associated with men,
who could not, without his aid, sustain the common burthen. From their
first acquaintance to this moment, it is believe there has been
subsisted between Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, the utmost intimacy and
confidence, founded upon mutual esteem and respect.
Mr. Madison continued in Congress
until the year 1783, when he became ineligible under the confederation,
which limited the service of a member to three years. The ensuing year
he was elected a member of the Virginia assembly. From the circumstance
of Mr. Madison's having been educated out of the state and his long
services in Congress, when he took his seat in the Virginia assembly, he
found himself almost a stranger. But the very high reputation he had
acquired in Congress, gave him a place in the confidence of those who
did not know his person. The period was deeply interesting. It begun
then to be understood that the union of the states must be lost or the
government new moddled. In that session Mr. Madison made some efforts to
give to Congress resources to comply with the engagements of the nation
-- To the state, the time was peculiarly important. The revisal of their
body of laws, so as to make them conform to republican principles, had
been referred to commissioners, had been reported to the legislature
four years before, and had remained unacted upon. That work was now
taken up and was carried through principally by the efforts of Mr.
Madison. And in particular the bill for religious freedom, which made a
part of that work, was indebted mainly to his able and zealous
advocation of its passage without any retrenchment of its liberal
principles. Through all the interesting scenes of that session, Mr.
Madison displayed such talents, integrity and patriotism that at the end
of that year there was not man who stood higher in the confidence and
||of all who
knew him. In 1785, he was re-elected to the Virginia assembly. During
the session of that year, he proposed and carried through that
body, a recommendation that deputies should meet from all the states at
Annapolis for the purpose of making some change in the confederation. It
is know that this effort did not produce all the good effects expected
from it; but it is likewise known that the recommendation of that
meeting caused the convocation of the convention at Philadelphia that
gave us our present constitution. Mr. Madison was, it is believed,
elected a member of that convention by unanimous vote of the
legislature. It is said in that body there was to member more
distinguished for wisdom and love of country. About the same time Mr.
Madison was re-elected a member of the old Congress. The evidence of the
very able support given by him this constitution is in print: Upon that
subject the reader is referred to the debates in the Virginia
Mr. Madison was elected a member of
the first House of Representatives that convened under the constitution.
His services in that body during the eight years of the administration
of Geo. Washington are known o all. For several years before the
establishment of this government and until the commencement of the war
between France and England, there was no American in whom Gen.
Washington confided more often than Mr. Madison; and if he was afterward
less frequently consulted by him, it was owing to the ascendency which
col. Hamilton had obtained in the administration.
Mr. Madison has been in public life
more than 32 years. He is 53 years of age. During his whole life it is
believed, there is not a single act for which he can be reproached as a
man or a citizen. He is a singular instance of a person who has been the
subject of so much envy to some and so much in the way of the views and
interests of others, escaping the imputations of having done an improper
act from an improper motive.
It is believed Mr. Madison has not at
this time, and that he never had a personal enemy, for a cause that
could be avoided.