James Madison was the fourth president of the United States. He was born in 1751 at Port Conway, Virginia. He was the oldest often children and was interested in studying religion and law when he went to college.
After college he was elected to the Virginia Convention where he helped write a new state constitution. Madison felt that people should have religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson became one of his best friends because of his ideas about religion.
James Madison was elected to the first state legislature. But he was not re-elected because he refused to serve gin and rum to the other members of the legislature. He helped Thomas Jefferson push through a bill for religious freedom in Virginia.
James Madison was at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. He led a group to form a strong central government with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. He wrote the essays on the Constitution that were called the Federalist Papers.
Madison was Thomas Jeffersonís secretary of state for eight years from 1801. When war broke out in Europe, many U.S. ships were attacked by Britain and France. Madison helped write a law to keep U.S. ships from sailing to Europe.
In 1808 James Madison was elected president. In 1812 the United States declared war against Britain. But Madison was not a strong war president. He had to leave Washington in 1814 when the British captured and burned the city. When the war ended, Madisonís popularity reached a peak. His wife Dolly Payne Todd became a famous first lady in Washington. He died in 1836 at the age of 85.
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