Since the purpose of Founder of the Day is to shed light on the lesser known Founding Fathers, this is simply a brief overview of the life of James Madison. He had, perhaps, a greater contribution to American Government then any other person. It is recommended that you read more about him than is found in this short summary.
James Madison first arrived on the national scene when he was sent, in his late 20's, to the Congress of the Confederation.
Like many of his contemporaries, he became frustrated at the limited power of the federal government. Most notably it's inability to raise taxes.
Madison worked with Alexander Hamilton to call the Philadelphia Convention in order to perfect the Articles of Confederation. This would end up creating the U.S. Constitution.
His 'Virginia Plan' would be the initial document presented to the Convention delegates outlining a new government. Though this surprised many of the attendees, Madison's plan was the original document that the Constitution would be built from.
This is how he became known as the 'Father of the Constitution.'
Madison would again work with Hamilton (and John Jay) to write the Federalist Papers. These articles would form the most exhaustive argument in favor of ratification.
James would be elected as a member of the first House of Representatives. In this position he would be a major contributor to the Bill of Rights. It was around this time he began to form the Democratic-Republican Party with Thomas Jefferson.
With Jefferson's assumption of the presidency in 1801, Madison would become his Secretary of State. In this office, he assisted with establishing the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as the Louisiana Purchase.
Madison would go on to become the Fourth President of the United States where he successfully defended the States during the War of 1812.
This is considered by many to be the final chapter in the American Revolution.
Madison would retire to his home in Virginia until his death where he would sometimes advise later presidents and statesmen. He died in 1836 at the age of 85, one of the last survivors of the Founding Generation.
Further Reading If you want to learn more about James Madison, pick up one of these books we recommend on Amazon: