Founding Fathers – James Madison


At the outset of the Constitutional Convention James Madison, a young delegate from Virginia proposed a revolutionary idea: instead to revise the Articles of Confederation the delegates should submit an entirely new document to the states.

Madison was descended from wealthy slaveholding Virginia planters, a Princeton graduate student and possessed a brilliant mind. He went to Philadelphia with a head full of ideas and luggage full of books. Madison’s plan proposed separate legislative, executive and judicial branches; a government that makes laws binding upon individual citizens and as well as states. His idea was a new Congress divided into two houses: a lower house chosen by the citizens and an upper house of senator elected by the state legislatures. Some of the delegates critical of Madison’s proposals submitted an alternative plan to keep the existing structure of equal state representation in a unicameral Congress, but the majority of the delegates voted to work toward establishing a new national government as viewed by Madison.

James Madison not only assumed a major role in the drafting of the Constitution, but he worked tirelessly in support of the ratification of the Constitution. Between 1787 and 1788 he wrote and published thirty articles in support of ratification. In his essays Madison defended the principle of the supreme national authority and at the same time he reassured his audience that the people and the states had little reason to fear tyranny in the new federal government. Madison also insisted that the new Constitution would promote prosperity by reducing taxes.