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James Madison. After a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-13004 DLC).


Madison, James (05 March 1751–28 June 1836), "the father of the Constitution" and fourth president of the United States, “the father of the Constitution” and fourth president of the United States, was born in King George County, Virginia, the oldest child of James Madison, Sr., and Nelly Conway, who at the time was visiting her mother’s estate on the Rappahannock River. The senior Madison, a vestryman, a justice of the peace, and Orange County’s leading planter, was the master of 4,000 acres and perhaps 100 slaves. Although without a formal education of his own, he was determined to provide his namesake with the training and accomplishments appropriate for one who was expected to assume a place among the great Virginia gentry. In 1762, at age eleven, the younger Madison (who would subscribe himself “James Madison, Jr.,” until his father’s death in 1801) began five years of study at Donald Robertson’s boarding school in King and Queen County. From there, encouraged by the Reverend Thomas Martin, who gave him two more years of tutoring at home, he traveled north to Princeton, where he passed examinations with the freshman class in September 1769 and completed the next three years in two....