The Other James Madison - President of the College of William and Mary

The Other James Madison - President of the College of William and Mary

A very curious fact about the American Revolution is that there were two James Madison’s running around.

Two James Madison’s!

One of these men is famous as an author of the Constitution and 4th President of the United States.

The other is his cousin, Bishop James Madison, and he is the subject of today’s article.

The Other James Madison

When the Revolutionary War broke out, all levels of society were thrown into disarray.

This includes colleges and universities across North America.

At the College of William and Mary, a young preacher and professor of mathematics, James Madison, was fired.

The President of the university was a Loyalist and he fired Madison for his Patriot sympathies.

Fortunately, the Revolution was on and that man was quickly fired.

His replacement?

James Madison.

College of William and Mary

This James Madison (a cousin of the future President by the same name) was placed at the head of the school.

Madison would spend the next 35 years running the College of William and Mary, overseeing the education of many future American note-worthies.

Additionally, he spent time as chaplain of the Virginia House of Delegates.


In 1790, Madison travelled to England where he was consecrated as one of the first American Bishops.

He joined the likes of Samuel Seabury and John Carroll in transforming the organization of religion in the young nation.

Furthermore, he added a Medical School and Law School to William and Mary which expanded opportunities in a young country with limited graduate education programs.

Bishop James Madison Society

Bishop James Madison passed away in 1812, just as his cousin by the same name was running for a second term as Commander-in-Chief.

Madison was much respected and mourned across the nation.

The Bishop James Madison Society was formed immediately after his death. This secret society contained students from the College of William and Mary who set out to good deeds and improve their school in honor of the longtime head master. 

Madison was buried on the campus he dedicated more than half his life to improving. 


In an effort to understand the importance of Madison's place in the American Founding, we must take a quick look at those students who learned under his watch. Just a few examples include future Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, Chief Justice John Marshall and his longtime Associate Justice Bushrod Washington. Also, important early American politicians such as Williams Short, Fulwar Skipwith, Henry Clay, St. George Tucker and eventual Lieutenant General of the US Army Winfield Scott.

I’ve written about several Revolutionary college Presidents at this point.

Here are a few examples:

John Witherspoon Improves Princeton

The Students of Edward Holyoke

James Manning, Brown University and the French Army

I came across this James Madison while researching yesterday’s article on Samuel Seabury.

Since both men were prominent religious figures during the Founding, I am going to once again recommend ‘God Against the Revolution.’ Although Madison was one of the priests who supported the Patriots, this is still a great book for understanding religion at the time of the Founding.

Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same) .

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