Who is the known as the 'Father of the Constitution'?

James Madison, Fourth President of the United States
James Madison, Fourth President of the United States. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-13004

Question: Who is the known as the 'Father of the Constitution'?

Answer: James Madison. He along with Gouverneur Morris were the main draftsmen of the Constitution. James Madison was one of 55 delegates to attend the Constitutional Convention. They met secretly in May, 1787. The stated goal of the meeting was to amend the failed Articles of Confederation. These had shown a number of weaknesses highlighted by the issues that arose when the government tried to deal with Shays' Rebellion.

This had happened in 1786 when Daniel Shays led a group protesting rising debt. However, the government under the articles was not able to gather a military force from the other states to help stop the rebellion. 

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention soon realized that fixing the Articles was not enough. Instead, they ended up writing a new constitution. James Madison who represented Virginia in the meeting became the main note taker during the conversations. In fact, Madison had been involved in creating Virginia's Constitution 11 years before the meeting. His work on that and belief in a strong central government to unify the disparate states are evident in the resulting document. His "Virginia Plan" called for a stronger central government including a bicameral legislature. This would become the basis for the rest of the debate during the Convention. 

The Constitution was finally presented to the delegates after a long summer working session.

It was signed by the delegates on September 17, 1787. However, the road to ratification would be a long process, many states resisting the call to ratify. Three men led the charge to get New York to ratify the Constitution, penning the Federalist Papers: James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.

These essays appeared in the newspaper with the pen name Publius and all argued for support of the new Constitution. 

In the end, the Constitution was officially ratified on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify. However, the Constitution would not take effect until March 4, 1789. 

James Madison would later be elected as the fourth president of the United States. During his time in office, he created the Monroe Doctrine and America fought the War of 1812. He served two terms, from 1809 to 1817. 

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