James Madison: Speech on the New Jersey Plan to the Constitutional Convention

(1787)

Although James Madison served two terms as president of the United States, he is historically better known for his role at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, for drafting the Bill of Rights, and for helping to form and lead the Democratic-Republican Party. Born in Port Conway, Virginia, in 1751, James Madison, Jr., was the eldest of twelve children, seven of whom survived into adulthood. His parents were James Madison, Sr., and Eleanor Rose Conway, prominent slaveholding landowners in Orange County, where Madison, Sr., was a justice of the peace.

In his early teens, Madison was tutored at a nearby plantation by Donald Robertson, from Scotland, and then by Thomas Martin, a local clergyman. He attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and studied under President John Witherspoon, also from Scotland, who distinguished himself as the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. Madison returned to Virginia after his college studies and was...

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James Madison (Library of Congress)

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