James Madison

Essay by Niomi81High School, 10th gradeA, June 2004

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James Madison seemed fragile, standing at only five feet six inches and weighing less than 140 pounds, and did not look like the type to be an influential political leader. Yet Madison was a great debater, able to use pure thought, not emotion, to win an argument. Madison is called the Father of the Constitution for a reason: he first helped create the Constitutional Convention and then worked for a strong national government that is the foundation of the Constitution.

Madison made many contributions to the government of the United States. Not only did he fight for a strong national government and become both Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson, but he also helped Jefferson strengthen the Republican party and constantly worked for the citizens of the country. He created the social and political pattern of a "people's president," a government official who knows what the citizens need and tries to pass laws best suited for the citizens.

Madison worked for the citizens by drafting the Bill of Rights and ushering it through the First Congress (p.53). The Bill of Rights protected citizens from the government, guaranteeing them rights which the government cannot take away. It gives citizens freedom of speech, religion, and press, as well as many other rights. Madison understood the fact that without the Bill of Rights, the country would not be living up to it's idea of being a free republican nation.

In 1790, two Quakers presented petitions to the House of Representatives, of which Madison was a member, calling for an end to the African slave trade(p. 81). Madison immediately opposed the idea, and quickly became the voice of reason in the debate. He said that if those opposed would restrain themselves, then the petition would go away and "never be blown up into...