James Madison


James Madison


At the Constitutional Convention Madison was one of the most active speakers, and many wise provisions owe their origin to his foresight and learning. Apt to get carried away when addressing the Convention, he asked a friend to sit by him and tweak his coattails if he seemed to be getting overexcited. After a particularly impassioned speech he sat down, almost exhausted, and reproached his friend for not pulling at his coat. “I would as soon have laid a finger on the lightning,” said his friend.


All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.

~James Madison

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Biographical Note: 

James Madison was a U.S. statesman; 4th president of the United States (1809–17). Deeply versed in theories of government, Madison helped frame the US Constitution (1787). His presidency was flawed by the unnecessary and humiliating War of 1812 with Britain.

More Information: 

Visit the White House website for more information about James Madison and all our presidents. You may also want to visit the Restore Montpelier website for a tour of James and Dolly Madison’s home.