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JAMES MADISON, the fourth president of the United States, was born in Orange county, Virginia, on the 16th of March, 1751. His father was James Madison, the family being of Welsh descent, and among the early emigrants to Virginia. The subject of the present sketch studied the English, Latin, Greek, French, and Italian languages, and was fitted for college under the tuition of Mr. Robertson, a native of Scotland, and the Rev. Mr. Martin, a Jerseyman. He graduated at Princeton, New Jersey, in 1771; and afterward remained a year at college, pursuing his studies under the superintendence of Doctor Witherspoon, president of the institution. His constitution was impaired by close application to his studies, and his health was, for many years, feeble. Returning to Virginia, he commenced the practice of the law, but the scenes of the revolution left but little opportunity for the quiet pursuits of private life, and his talents being soon appreciated by his neighbors, he was called into the public service at an early age. In 1776 he was elected a member of the general assembly of Virginia, and in 1778 he was appointed one of the executive councillors. In the winter of 1779-'80 he was chosen a delegate to the continental Congress, of which body he continued an active and prominent member till 1784. In January, 1786, the legislature of Virginia appointed Mr. Madison one of their delegates to a convention of commissioners, or delegates, from the several states, to meet at Annapolis, Maryland, the ensuing September, to devise a uniform system of commercial regulations which should be binding on the whole confederacy, when ratified by all the states. Only five states were represented in this convention, but the members present took a step which led to important results. They recommended a convention of delegates from all the states, to be held at Philadelphia, in May, 1787, to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such further provisions as should appear to them

necessary to render the constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union. Of that convention, which framed the constitution of the United States, Mr. Madison was one of the most distinguished members. He took a leading part in the debates on the various plans of a constitution submitted to the convention, and to his efforts in maturing the constitution as finally adopted, the country is greatly indebted. He took notes of the proceedings and debates of the convention, which, since his death, have been published, forming a valuable text-book for American statesmen.

In the convention, Mr: Madison generally coincided with General Washington and other members in their views in favor of a strong national government. A paper in the handwriting of General Washington, and found among the documents left by him, contains a summary of Mr. Madison's opinions on the subject of a form of constitution to be proposed. It is the substance of a letter received by Washington from Mr. Madison, a short time previous to the assembling of the convention at Philadelphia, and has been published in the North American Review, volume xxxv., as follows:

"Mr. Madison thinks an individual independence of the states utterly irreconcilable with their aggregate sovereignty, and that a consolidation of the whole into one simple republic would be as inexpedient as it is unattainable. He therefore proposes a middle ground, which may at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and not exclude the local authorities whenever they can be subordinately useful.

"As the groundwork, he proposes that a change be made in the principle of representation, and thinks there would be no great difficulty in effecting it.

"Next, that, in addition to the present federal powers, the national government should be armed with positive and complete authority in all cases which require uniformity; such as regulation of trade, including the right of taxing both exports and imports, the fixing the terms and forms of naturalization, &c.

"Over and above this positive power, a negative in all cases whatever on the legislative acts of the states, as heretofore exercised by the kingly prerogative, appears to him absolutely necessary, and to be the least possible encroachment on the state jurisdictions. Without this defensive power he conceives that every positive law which can be given on paper, I will be evaded.

"This control over the laws would prevent the internal vicissitudes of state policy, and the aggressions of interested majorities.

"The national supremacy ought also to be extended, he thinks, to the judiciary departments; the oaths of the judges should at least include a fidelity to the general as well as local constitution; and that an appeal should be to some national tribunals in all cases to which foreigners or in

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habitants of other states may be parties. The admiralty jurisdictions to fall entirely within the purview of the national government.

"The national supremacy in the executive departments is liable to some difficulty, unless the officers administering them could be made appointable by the supreme government. The militia ought entirely to be placed, in some form or other, under the authority which is intrusted with the general protection and defence.

"A government composed of such extensive powers should be well organized and balanced.

"The legislative department might be divided into two branches, one of them chosen every — years, by the people at large, or by the legislatures; the other to consist of fewer members, to hold their places for a longer term, and to go out in such rotation as always to leave in office a large majority of old members.

"Perhaps the negative on the laws might be most conveniently exercised by this branch.

"As a further check, a council of revision, including the great ministerial officers, might be superadded.

"A national executive must also be provided. He has scarcely ventured as yet to form his own opinion, either of the manner in which it ought to be constituted, or of the authorities with which it ought to be clothed.

"An article should be inserted, expressly guarantying the tranquillity of the states against internal as well as external dangers.

"In like manner, the right of coercion should be expressly declared. With the resources of commerce in hand, the national administration might always find means of exerting it either by sea or land; but the difficulty and awkwardness of operating by force on the collective will of a state, render it particularly desirable that the necessity of it might be precluded. Perhaps the negative on the laws might create such a mutual dependence between the general and particular authorities as to answer; or perhaps some defined objects of taxation might be submitted along with commerce, to the general authority.

"To give a new system its proper validity and energy, a ratification must be obtained from the people, and not merely from the ordinary authority of the legislature. This will be the more essential, as inroads on the existing constitutions of the states will be unavoidable."

The foregoing views of Mr. Madison, expressed by him before the constitution was formed, are highly interesting, as evincing a remarkable degree of foresight and political wisdom, and forming the basis of the principal features of the constitution as finally adopted by the convention.

The constitution having passed the ordeal of the national convention, in September, 1787, was next, by the recommendation of that body, submitted to conventions elected by the people of the several states, for their

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