Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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MADISON, James, president of the United States 1809-17, was born at Port Conway, Va., March 16, 1751, and died at Montpelier, Va., June 28, 1836. He was graduated at Princeton in 1771, was admitted to the bar, was a delegate to the continental congress from Virginia 1780-83 and 1786-8, and to the convention of 1787 (see CONSTITUTION), and was a democratic congressman 1789-97. He was secretary of state throughout Jefferson's two terms of office, and on his retirement was elected president. (See FEDERALIST; KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS; CONSTRUCTION; ADMINISTRATIONS; EMBARGO; CAUCUS, CONGRESSIONAL; CONVENTION, HARTFORD; HENRY DOCUMENTS; DRAFTS, I.; SECESSION, I.; DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, I.-III.; UNITED STATES.)


—Madison's part in the adoption and ratification of the constitution, and in the organization of government under it, was very large and indeed essential. As soon as the government was fairly organized he took place as Jefferson's most confidential lieutenant in the formation of the republican (democratic) party, and from that time until 1817 his history is closely identified with that of his party.


—Madison's ability as a political writer will not be questioned by any one who has read his writings; but his ability was rather judicial than polemical. He never fairly entered the lists against Hamilton but once, in 1793, when Jefferson had written to him thus urgently: "Hamilton is really a colossus to the anti-republican party. When he comes forward there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. For God's sake, take up your pen, and give a fundamental reply to Curtius and Camillus." It must be admitted that in this encounter Madison was very decidedly worsted. Outside of polemics, however, his style is always plain, strong, frank and convincing; and his state papers are of the first rank.


—As president, Madison held a different position from any of his three predecessors, "Washington, who ruled superior to party; Adams, who ruled in spite of a party; and Jefferson, who ruled at the head of a party." Madison may be considered the first of the presidents who have been the exponents of a party. It is very certain, for example, that "Mr. Madison's war," as the federalists often called the war of 1812, did not draw its inspiration from Madison at all, even if doubt be cast upon the story that he was forced into it by the democratic leaders in congress. In this, as in many other similar instances, he was the first president to yield in practice to the Jeffersonian theory, as applied to the executive.


—See Adams' Life of Madison; Rives' Life of Madison; Madison's Writings; McGuire's Private Correspondence of Madison; 5 Elliot's Debates; 2 Schouler's United States, 279; Madison's messages in the Statesman's Manual; and authorities under DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, I.-III.


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