1809 Biography of Madison
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The following article is copied from the American Mercury a newspaper published in Hartford Connecticut on Thursday, September 28, 1809, about six months after Madison was elected President of the United States.

Biography of James Madison

From the [Washington] Monitor

[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.]


James 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 family seat.

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 affections

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 convention.

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.

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