Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution. When we visited Madison’s home Montpelier in 2009 (part of “The Ultimate Nerd Trip”), we toured the library where he spent months and months doing exhaustive research, reading history and philosophy (including the thinkers from the Age of Enlightenment,) to understand what government might work best in the new republic. He also intensely studied the Bible, making copious notes.
In case you’ve forgotten what you learned in American History, here are some other highlights about Madison:
He wrote the Bill of Rights.
He wrote the Federalist Papers along with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.
Madison was president when British burned down the White House in the War of 1812. (Dolley Madison, Madison slave Paul Jennings and others famously saved the Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington that we have referenced in several recent Nerd Trips posts).
Here are some random facts about Madison:
He is our shortest president, standing 5’4″
His nose was scarred by frostbite
He was the oldest child in a family of 12
“Mr. Madison’s war” was what some people called the War of 1812. (I read that Madison was looking for a place to stay after the White House was burned, but a tavern keeper turned the president away because the man blamed Madison for the war, which was apparently very unpopular)
Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin named for the fourth president, was founded in 1836,the year President Madison died.
At James Madison University, March 16 is known as St. Maddie’s day (thanks to my friends Lindsay and Julia, JMU grads, for that tip). I am sure it’s a great reason for a party.
P.S. Madison’s words still apply today. I have quote from James Madison hanging in my office. which says, “Philosophy is common sense with big words.” I think of this when people try to act like they know more than I do, giving me corporate double-talk to explain simple concepts.