President Madison

President Madison by Paul Reaume

James Madison, Jr.
Height: 5′ 4″ (The shortest ever U.S. President)
March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836

James Madison is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being instrumental in the drafting of the United States Constitution, as well as the key champion and author of the United States Bill of Rights. The fourth President of the United States (1809–1817), he was keenly aware of the risk to westward expansion posed by “The Prophet” and the British. He served as a politician much of his adult life and was quiet and introverted. Like other Virginia statesmen in the slave society, he was a slaveholder and owned hundreds of slaves during his lifetime to cultivate tobacco and other crops.

He was described by his contemporaries “as a impish man with a great intellect”. He was often found hiding in his office or in his library reading, preferring his books to the company of people. His wife Dolly was the perfect compliment to this quiet man by being the constant social butterfly and diplomat.

On June 1, 1812, President James Madison sent a message to the Congress recounting American grievances against Great Britain, though not specifically calling for a declaration of war saying that “Congress will wish to decide what to do next”. After Madison’s message, the House of Representatives deliberated for four days behind closed doors before voting 79 to 49 in favour of war. The Senate agreed by the narrow margin of 19 to 13. The conflict began formally on June 18, 1812, when Madison signed the measure into law. This was the first time that the United States had declared war on another nation, and the Congressional vote would prove to be the closest vote to declare war in American history.

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