Humanities › History & Culture 10 Things to Know About James Madison Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture American History U.S. Presidents Basics Important Historical Figures Key Events Native American History American Revolution America Moves Westward The Gilded Age Crimes & Disasters The Most Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Martin Kelly History Expert M.A., History, University of Florida B.A., History, University of Florida Martin Kelly, M.A., is a history teacher and curriculum developer. He is the author of "The Everything American Presidents Book" and "Colonial Life: Government." our editorial process Martin Kelly Updated May 03, 2019 James Madison (1751 - 1836) was the fourth president of the United States. He was known as the Father of the Constitution and was president during the War of 1812. Following are ten key and interesting facts about him and his time as president. Father of the Constitution The constitutional convention in Virginia, 1830, by George Catlin (1796-1872). James Madison was known as the Father of the Constitution. DEA PICTURE LIBRARY / Getty Images James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution. Before the Constitutional Convention, Madison spent many hours studying government structures from around the world before coming up with the basic idea of a blended republic. While he did not personally write every part of the Constitution, he was a key player in all discussions and forcefully argued for many items that would eventually make it into the Constitution including population-based representation in Congress, the need for checks and balances, and support for a strong federal executive. President During the War of 1812 USS Constitution defeating the HMS Guerriere during the war of 1812. SuperStock / Getty Images Madison went to Congress to ask for a declaration of war against England that started the War of 1812. This was because the British would not stop harassing American ships and impressing soldiers. The Americans struggled at the beginning, losing Detroit without a fight. The Navy fared better, with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry leading the defeat of the British on Lake Erie. However, the British were still able to march on Washington, not being stopped until they were on their way to Baltimore. The war ended in 1814 with a stalemate. Shortest President traveler1116 / Getty Images James Madison was the shortest president. He measured 5'4" tall and is estimated to have weighed about 100 pounds. One of Three Author of the Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton. Library of Congress Together with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, James Madison authored the Federalist Papers. These 85 essays were printed in two New York newspapers as a way to argue for the Constitution so that New York would agree to ratify it. One of the most famous of these papers is #51 which Madison penned stated the famous quote "If men were angels, no government would be necessary..." Key Author of the Bill of Rights Library of Congress Madison was one of the main proponents of the passage of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights. These were ratified in 1791. Co-Authored the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions Stock Montage/Getty Images During John Adams' presidency, the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed to curtain certain forms of political speech. Madison joined forces with Thomas Jefferson to create the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in opposition to these acts. Married Dolley Madison First Lady Dolley Madison. Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images Dolley Payne Todd Madison was one of the most well-loved first ladies and known as a terrific hostess. When Thomas Jefferson's wife had died while he was serving as president, she helped him at official state functions. When she married Madison, she was disowned by the Society of Friends as her husband was not a Quaker. She only had one child by a previous marriage. Non-Intercourse Act and Macon's Bill #2 Death of Captain Lawrence in naval clash between the American frigate Chesapeake and the British ship Shannon, 1812. The war had partially been fought over the British practice of impressing American sailors into service. Charles Phelps Cushing/ClassicStock/Getty Images Two foreign trade bills passed during his time in office: the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809 and Macon's Bill No. 2. The Non-Intercourse Act was relatively unenforceable, allowing the US to trade with all nations except France and Great Britain. Madison extended the offer that if either nation worked to protect American shipping interests, they would be allowed to trade. In 1810, this act was repealed with Macon's Bill No. 2. It said that whichever nation stopped attacking American ships would be favored, and the US would stop trading with the other nation. France Agreed but Britain continued to impress soldiers. White House Burned White House on Fire during the War of 1812. Engraving by William Strickland. Library of Congress When the British marched on Washington during the War of 1812, they burned many important buildings including the Navy Yards, the unfinished US Congress Building, the Treasury Building, and the White House. Dolley Madison fled the White House taking many treasures with her when the danger of occupation was apparent. In her words, "At this late hour a wagon has been procured, and I have had it filled with plate and the most valuable portable articles, belonging to the house... Our kind friend, Mr. Carroll, has come to hasten my departure, and in a very bad humor with me, because I insist on waiting until the large picture of General Washington is secured, and it requires to be unscrewed from the wall... I have ordered the frame to be broken, and the canvas taken out." Hartford Convention Against His Actions Political Cartoon About the Hartford Convention. Library of Congress The Hartford Convention was a secret federalist meeting with individuals from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont who were opposed to Madison’s trade policies and the War of 1812. They came up with a number of amendments that they wished passed to address issues that they had with the War and the embargoes. When the war ended and news about the secret meeting came out, the Federalist Party was discredited and eventually fell apart.