Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Greatness of James Madison

                    James Madison, Jr. was born on March 16, 1751, at the Belle Grove Plantation near Port Conway, Virginia, apparently the home of his maternal grandparents.  He was the oldest of twelve children - eight boys and four girls - born to Nelly and James Madison, Sr. Two boys died as infants and one was stillborn.  If that were not sad enough, another son and daughter died as young children in a dysentery epidemic.  [My parents also had twelve children - eight girls and four boys, but all of us grew to adulthood.] 

                    James, Sr. was a tobacco planter who inherited the plantation - Mount Pleasant, in Orange County, Virginia - where he grew up.  He became the largest landowner in the county when he acquired more property, owning approximately 5,000 acres.  Nelly Conway Madison was the daughter of another prominent tobacco planter and merchant.  James, Jr. inherited his plantation, Montpelier, at age 50 upon the death of his father.  He also inherited 108 slaves to work the tobacco fields and fields of other crops.  According to a former slave, Madison treated his slaves kindly and earned their respect.  He never struck a slave or allowed others to do so.  He thought freed slaves and blacks should be returned to Africa, but his slaves wanted to stay in the United States and resisted repatriation.

                    James, Jr. was small in stature and delicate in health, but he had a brilliant mind.  He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1771; there he studied Latin, Greek, science, geography, mathematics, rhetoric, and philosophy and placed great emphasis on speech and debate.  After graduation, he remained at the university to study Hebrew and political philosophy.  He became quite fluent in Hebrew.  He studied law because of his interest in public policy and not because he wanted to become an attorney.

                    On September 15, 1794, Madison (age 43) married Dolley Payne Todd, a widow, and adopted her one surviving son, John Payne Todd after the marriage.  James and Dolley had at least one child together - a son named James.  The marriage was a happy one from all reports, and Dolley is credited with increasing James' popularity as President.

                    James, Jr. is known as the "Father of the Constitution" because he was instrumental in its drafting 1787.  After the Constitution was written, Madison collaborated with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to produce the Federalist Papers (1788) to convince the people to ratify the Constitution.  He was a member of the Virginia convention that met to ratify the Constitution. 

As a leader in the new House of Representatives in 1789, Madison drafted many basic laws.  He drafted the first ten amendments to the Constitution and is also known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights."  He worked closely with President George Washington to organize the new federal government.  As Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States.

Our nation enjoyed renewed prosperity for a few years during the Madison Administration.  When diplomatic protests and a trade embargo against Great Britain failed to keep the British from terrorizing Americans, Madison led the nation into the War of 1812.  The War of 1812 ended in 1815, but the United States almost immediately entered the Second Barbary War.  Pirates from the North African states in the Mediterranean had been extracting large sums of money as tribute for safe passage of our ships on the seas since the days of Washington.  Under Madison, the United States took the fight to the pirates and ended the age of piracy.

James and Dolley Madison left the White House in 1817 and retired to Montpelier; he was 65 years old and Dolley was 49.  James left the White House a poorer man than when he entered it - just as Washington and Jefferson had done before him. 

After the death of Thomas Jefferson in 1826, Madison took his place as Rector (or President) of the University of Virginia and held the position until his own death ten years later.  In addition, Madison was chosen in 1829 (at age 78) as a representative to the constitutional convention to revise the Virginia state constitution.

Madison's financial health - as well as his physical and mental health - continued to deteriorate.  To make up for losses on his plantation between 1834 and 1835, he sold 25% of his slaves. 

Madison died at Montpelier on June 28, 1836, and was buried in the Madison Family Cemetery at Montpelier.  He was the last of the Founding Fathers.

The mansion at Montpelier was sold in 1842, and the plantation lands were sold in 1844.  Half of the slaves were leased to the new owner and half were inherited by Dolley Madison, John Payne Todd, and James Madison, Jr.  Todd continued to sell slaves until he had only 15 at his home.  The Montpelier plantation was a "ghost of its former self" by 1850.

                    If you are not yet convinced that James Madison was a great man, here are some of his quotes.  It is obvious to see why we have such a wonderful document as the Constitution!

                    "A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both."  [I am sure that Madison would not have approved of the way our lame stream media keeps information from the American people or distorts it when they do give it.]

                    "A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person."  [This is why we have a Republic and not a democracy!]

"A sincere and steadfast co-operation in promoting such a reconstruction of our political system as would provide for the permanent liberty and happiness of the United States.  [The "Father of the Constitution" worked diligently to give us a government that would last forever!]

"A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free county."  [He obviously believed that the general populace had the right to keep and bear arms!]

"A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people."  [In order to be "well-instructed" we must learn true history and determine the truth in our current events.]

"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree."  [How true!]

"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."  [This statement tells us that our current anti-gun people do not trust us with guns.  What are they doing that they don't trust us?]

I believe that James Madison can be considered one of the greatest Americans of all time.  We are certainly indebted to him for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which protect us from overzealous politicians and other people who want to "fundamentally change" our nation.

No comments:

Post a Comment