James Madison: Federalist 51

(1788)

About the Author

James Madison was born on March 16, 1751, into a wealthy Tidewater family. Raised on a Virginia plantation, he was a sickly child who suffered from unexplained seizures. After graduation from Princeton University, he returned home to pursue legal studies. In 1774 he took a seat on the local Committee of Safety, a pro-revolution group that oversaw the local militia. As a delegate to the Virginia Convention in 1776, Madison was embroiled in the independence debates. In 1778 he was appointed to the Virginia Council of State, which directed state affairs during the Revolution. There he cemented his relationship with Jefferson, who served as governor of Virginia during the war years.

Young Madison had a rare ability to understand and articulate issues. For three years he fought for legislation to strengthen the confederacy of former colonies, contending that military victory required vesting power in a central government. Returning to the House of Delegates in...

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James Madison (Library of Congress)

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