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Biographies Unit Biographies

James Madison 1751–1836
Writer of the Constitution and President of the United States

James Madison was fourteen years old when the Stamp Act was passed. The uproar it caused made a big impression on him. As a student in Virginia, he heard about Patrick Henry's famous speech against the Stamp Act. Madison's father, a wealthy Virginia planter, taught his son to value his rights and freedoms. As the American Revolution neared, young James Madison joined the militia and practiced with a rifle.

Madison, however, did not become a soldier. His health was not very good. After finishing his education, he was elected to the Virginia state convention of 1776. As a delegate, Madison worked to put a strong guarantee of religious freedom into the new state constitution. Years later, in 1788, Madison would put similar guarantees of freedom into the Bill of Rights.

Madison once said that from an early age he believed in the importance of liberty. It was a belief that guided him throughout his long political career.

Comprehension Check

What did James Madison do soon after finishing his education?

Critical Thinking

In what way did James Madison show that he believed in liberty?