Facts about James Madison

This is a list of basic facts about James Madison. Madison was one of the primary creators of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He served in the Virginia legislature and in the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. He also became the Fourth President of the United States and was president during the War of 1812. This list of facts contains basic things such as birth and death dates, marriage dates, number of children and offices he held, but also contains other interesting and less well known facts about James Madison.

James Madison
Click to enlarge
James Madison
James Madison
Click to enlarge
James Madison

Facts about James Madison


  • March 16, 1751


  • Port Conway, Virginia

Parents' names

  • Father - Colonel James Madison, Sr., born March 27, 1723, died February 27, 1801
  • Mother - Eleanor Rose "Nellie" Conway, born January 9, 1731, died February 11, 1829
  • They married in 1743.

Parents' occupations

  • Colonel Madison was owner of a tobacco plantation called "Montpelier" in Orange County, Virginia.

Number of siblings

  • 11

Birth order

James Madison was the 1st of 12 children, five of whom died in infancy or childhood.

  • Francis Madison (1753 - 1800) - Became a planter in Orange County, Virginia.
  • Ambrose Madison (1755 - 1793) - Became a planter and captain in the Virginia militia.
  • Catlett Madison (1758 - 1758) - Died in infancy.
  • Nelly Madison Hite (1760 - 1802)
  • William Madison (1762 - 1843) - Served in the American Revolution and a lawyer. Also served in the Virginia legislature.
  • Sarah Catlett Madison Macon (1764 - 1843)
  • unnamed infant (1766 - 1766)
  • Elizabeth Madison (1768 - 1775)
  • unnamed infant (1770 - 1770)
  • Reuben Madison (1771 - 1775)
  • Frances "Fanny" Madison Rose (1774 - 1823)


  • Father of the Constitution
  • Father of the Bill of Rights
  • America's First Graduate Student
  • Father of the University of Virginia
  • Friends called him "Jemmie"

Schools attended

  • In 1762, at age 11, Madison began attending his first school in King and Queen County, Virginia, under the instruction of Donald Robertson at the Innes Plantation.
  • In 1767, at age 16, Madison returned home to Montpelier to study with a private tutor.
  • From August, 1769 - 1771, he attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), finishing a four year course in two years.
  • Madison ontinued to study with College of New Jersey President, John Witherspoon, for an additional year after graduating. Consequently James Madison is known as "America's First Graduate Student."

Religious Views

  • Madison was a devout Episcopalian who held very strong personal religious beliefs. In earlier years he advocated personal salvation and government promotion of Christianity, personal statements of faith by public officials, paid Congressional chaplains, and the use of federal funds for the printing and distribution of the Bible. In later years, however, he may have backed down from this position of allowing the government to promote Christianity. He authored "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments," which discouraged the use of religious tests for people holding public office. This doesn't mean he was against Christianity, but against defining which religious views public officials must hold. There is also some dispute about Madison's views in later years because of a document, known as the "Detached Memoranda," which was allegedly "found" in 1946, in which, some believe, that Madison recanted his religious views. The authenticity of the document is in question though because of its apparent contradictions to Madison's personal behavior.

First Occupation

  • Lawyer

Physical Appearance

  • The smallest President, weighing only 100 pounds and standing 5 feet, 4 inches tall.

Facts about James Madison -
James Madison Family

Date of marriage, wife's name

  • Married Dorothea Dandling Payne Todd, otherwise known as Dolley (1768-1849), on September 15, 1794. Dolley was a widower with a Quaker background. Her first husband, John Todd Jr. and second son, William Temple, died in the Philadelphia Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793. She was also expelled from the Quaker church for marrying Madison who was an Episcopalian.
Dolley Madison
Click to enlarge
Dolley Madison


  • James and Dolley had no children of their own. They did however raise Dolley's first son from her previous marriage, John Payne, who was two years old when they married.

Famous relatives

  • Madison was a half first cousin, twice removed, of President George Washington.
  • Madison was a second cousin of the Twelfth President of the United States, Zachary Taylor.
  • Madison's wife Dolley had a sister named Lucy who married George Steptoe Washington, George Washington's nephew.

Facts about James Madison -
The Revolutionary War

How he got involved in the independence effort?

  • Madison hated the British treatment of its American colonies. He was appointed to the Orange County, Virginia Committee of Safety in 1774 to help coordinate anti-British efforts. In 1776 he was elected to the Virginia Convention which voted to declare independence from Great Britain and which wrote a constitution for the new state. He served on the Council of State under governors Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson in 1778 and 1779. In 1779, Madison was elected to the Continental Congress, where he served until 1783.

Did he see military action during the war?

  • Not during the Revolution, but he was forced to flee Washington DC during the War of 1812 when the British invaded the city and set fire to many public buildings, including the White House.

Facts about James Madison -
Offices he held

Which party was he in?

  • Democrat-Republican (today's Democrat party)

Which government offices did he hold?

  • Member of Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1776
  • Member of Continental Congress, 1780-83
  • Member of Virginia Legislature, 1784-86
  • Member of Constitutional Convention, 1787
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1789-97
  • Secretary of State, 1801-09 (under Thomas Jefferson)
  • 4th President of the United States - served two terms from 1808-1816

Did he hold any office under the Royal government?

  • No

Significant accomplishments while in office?

  • Madison was one of the primary forces behind the creation of the United States Constitution. He created the primary framework on which the Constitution was built, was the principal author of it, promoted the need for it and was the primary speaker and director of the Constitutional Convention.
  • Madison signed the US Constitution in 1787, one of only two signers who would later become President, the other was George Washington.
  • As Thomas Jefferson's Secretary of State, James Madison was one of the primary figures involved in the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the United States. 828,000 acres was purchased from Napoloeon Bonaparte and France for only $233 million dollars in today's money. This came to only 42 cents an acre!
Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
(The area in green)
  • Madison, who was in the Democratic-Republican Party, was President when Congress declared war on Great Britain igniting the War of 1812 - his critics called this "Mr. Madison's War." The war was unpopular in many quarters, but General Andrew Jackson's brilliant victory at New Orleans led to a huge upsurge in nationalism and destroyed the opposing party, the Federalists.
  • Madison was President when the Treaty of Ghent was signed. This was the document that officially ended the War of 1812.
Signing of the Treaty of Ghent by Sir Amedea Forestier
Click to enlarge
Signing of the Treaty of Ghent
by Sir Amedea Forestier

Facts about James Madison -
Other Personal Info

Selected James Madison writings and their dates

James Madison Quotes

  • "A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven." - Letter to William Bradford, November 9, 1772
  • "All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." - Speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787
  • "The conduct of every popular assembly... shews that individuals join without remorse in acts against which their consciences would revolt, if proposed to them, separately, in their closets." - Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
  • "Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution." - Federalist Papers, No. 39, January, 1788

Find more James Madison Quotes here.

Facts about James Madison -
The end of his life

Date and age of retirement

  • After leaving the presidency in 1816, Madison retired to Montpelier, but stayed involved in politics. He represented his county at the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829. He also helped found the American Colonization Society to help resettle American blacks in Africa.

Date of death

  • Died June 28, 1836 at Montpelier.

Famous words on his deathbed

  • "I always talk better lying down."

Location of grave

  • Montpelier, Madison's lifelong home near Orange, Virginia.

Epitaph on gravestone

DIED JUNE 28TH, 1836

Other interesting
Facts about James Madison

Quotes about James Madison by others

  • "James Madison, one of the pillars and ornaments of his country and of his age. His time on earth was short, yet he died full of years and of glory... he fulfilled, nobly fulfilled, his destinies as a man and a Christian. He has improved his own condition by improving that of his country and his kind." - An Eulogy on the Life and Character of James Madison" - John Quincy Adams, Boston, September 28, 1836

Landmarks for James Madison

  • Madison's birthplace, Conway House, stood in Port Royal, Virginia until the 1930's when it fell into the Rappahannock River. A birth site marker now stands on the spot on the south side of the river, 4 miles north of Port Royal on US Route 301.
  • Montpelier - Home of three generations of Madison's. Located near Orange, Virginia. You can visit Montpelier today. For more information, go to www.montpelier.org.
Montpelier, Home of James Madison
Click to enlarge
Home of James Madison
  • Octagon House - This private home in Washington DC was occupied by the Madisons after the White House was burned in the War of 1812. Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, here. Today Octagon House is owned by the American Architectural Association and can be visited and toured. Click here for more information about the Octagon House.
Octagon House, Washington DC
Click to enlarge
Octagon House
Washington DC

Other interesting Facts about James Madison

  • At age 29, Madison was the youngest member of the Continental Congress.
  • Madison was one of only two Presidents to sign the US Constitution. The other was George Washington.
  • James Madison and Dolley Payne Todd were introduced to one another by the infamous Aaron Burr, at James Madison's request. Aaron Burr was Vice-President under Thomas Jefferson when he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
  • Madison was seventeen years older than Dolley when they married.
  • Madison was the first former US Congressman to be elected President of the United States.
  • Madison had a pet macaw.
  • During Madison's presidency, New England States met at the Hartford Convention in 1814 to discuss seceding from the union over the War of 1812.
  • Madison was younger than both of his vice-presidents, George Clinton and Elbridge Gerry.
  • Madison was the first President to wear trousers instead of knee breaches.
  • Madison's inaugural jacket was woven from the wool of sheep that were raised at his home in Virginia, Montpelier.
  • Louisiana and Indiana were admitted to the union during Madison's presidency.
  • Madison was a diagnosed epileptic and had chronic arthritis.
  • James Madison's salary was $25,000 a year when he was President.
  • Madison retreated from Washington DC with the US Army in August 1814 when the city was invaded by the British. Many public buildings were burned, including the White House.
  • Both of James Madison's vice-presidents died while in office, George Clinton and Elbridge Gerry.
  • James Madison's head appeared on the US $5,000 bill, which was in circulation prior to 1946.
Five Thousand Dollar Bill
Five Thousand Dollar Bill
Five Thousand Dollar Bill
Red stars

If you enjoyed reading these James Madison Facts, you will also like to read the following Revolutionary War Facts:

Red stars

Return to top of Facts about James Madison

Revolutionary War Facts

Revolutionary War and Beyond Home

Like This Page?

Facebook Comments

people have commented on this page. Share your thoughts about what you just read! Leave a comment in the box below.
Enjoy this page? Here's the link to add it to your own page

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

© 2008 - 2022 Revolutionary-War-and-Beyond.com  Dan & Jax Bubis