“James Madison’s’ Accomplishments” James Madison (1751 – 1836) was a founding father of the United States who is famous for the contribution he made towards the U.S. Constitution. His accomplishments include the Virginia Plan, an outline for a new constitution; directed the Philadelphia Convention towards forming a new constitution; and contributed to the Federalist Papers, which promoted the ratification of the constitution. Apart from being the Father of the Constitution, Madison is also recognized as the Father of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. He served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson before becoming the fourth President of the United States in 1809. The foreign affairs during his presidency were dominated by the War of 1812 with Great Britain while his domestic policy focused on an effective taxation system and a well-funded standing professional military. Madison’s path towards the creation of a new constitution began with the Philadelphia Convention where he presented the Virginia Plan. This plan promised that it would supersede the ineffective Articles that were currently in place, and a new more effective constitution would pick up its role. According to the original Virginia Plan drafted by Madison, some of his ideas included, “Resolved that each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts. Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that a national government ought to be established consisting of a Supreme Legislative, Judiciary, and Executive. Resolved. that the right of suffrage in the first branch of the national Legislature ought not to be according to the rule established in the articles of confederation: but according to some equitable ratio of representation — namely, in proportion to the whole number of white and other free citizens and inhabitants of every age, sex, and condition including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description, except Indians, not paying taxes in each State.” Although the plan was presented by Edmund Randolph to the Philadelphia Convention, Madison is credited for shifting the debate toward a compromise of “shared sovereignty.” The focus of the Virginia Plan was to amend the number of votes each state received in Congress to be based on population, even though this was the main objective of the plan he also included some of his other visions in the document. Overall these ideas caused a positive impact at the convention and was liked by many; at one point they were somewhat countered by the New Jersey Plan which proposed one vote per state regardless of population. The Virginia Plan ended up having more success therefore the ideas were used as an outline throughout the convention. In the end although the document drafted by Madison was of course altered, as the process of forging the Constitution continued, many of the ideas were implemented. His journey towards the creation of the constitution continued as he directed the Philadelphia Convention, which played a key role in creating the law of the land. The suggestions proposed by the plan that Madison had created, gave him an important part in the convention because the outline he had previously created helped the participants in this event to feed off each other and produce what we know as today, the Constitution of the United States of America. Madison’s Virginia Plan not only helped to create the beginnings of the Constitutional Convention but also led him to play an active role in it. Leading him to not only one great accomplishment but two. The road to the Constitution led Madison on a path to other great accomplishments. In the efforts to the making of a better America, James Madison also took part in the creation of the Federalist Papers in collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. The purpose of these series of 85 essays was to promote the ratification of the Constitution and once and for all eliminate the rules set forth by the Articles of Confederation which created an inefficient way of running the country. The series of essays argued that, “private rights and public good would be best protected in a single large republic rather than a mélange of small republics, cemented Madison’s reputation as a nationalist and a political genius.” In the various Federalist Papers that were written Madison and the other two authors provide support for their causing, explaining to the public why their beliefs are important and should be in some way implemented. For example, in this excerpt written by Madison in the 14th essay, he says, “The true distinction between these forms was also adverted to on a former occasion. It is, that in a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents. A democracy, consequently, will be confined to a small spot. A republic may be extended over a large region.” In this particular essay James Madison argues further that the general government will only be authorized to deal with issues of concern to the entire republic. State governments will be left to deal with local concerns, thus making the administration of a country as vast as the United States more manageable. The collaboration between these three leaders to write these essays, eventually led the federal Constitution to be approved by the states and it went into effect in 1789; making this another one of Madison’s great accomplishments. But his journey with the constitution did not end there. As it is clear the Constitution took many years in the making. People always had some sort of criticism to make or found some sort of flaw. The absence of a Bill of Rights was the loudest and most effective criticism of it. Although he believed that individual rights were fully protected by the Constitution as it stood, Madison did recognize that drafting a Bill of Rights was politically imperative., because if not the Constitution may have been in peril. When Madison realized that no changes could be made to the Constitution itself, he presented his changes as a list of amendments that would follow Article VII. The Bill of Rights was essentially a list of limits on the power that the government could hold over the people. Some of the rights included, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” These are just two of the rights that were provided by what perhaps might be considered today as the most well recognized document in the entire constitution. Clearly James Madison had great involvement in the creation of the law of the land and this is the today many refer to him as “The Father of the Constitution.” James Madison did not stop there he, later on, went to serve as the secretary of state under the government of Thomas Jefferson. Through this period Madison provided great support for Jefferson for 9 years, for example he supervised the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 which doubled the size of the United States and was by far the largest territorial gain in U.S. history. Even though this may not seem like a great accomplishment it did help him to build a road towards the presidential nominations in 1808, where he competed with great leaders such as, former Ambassador James Monroe and Vice President George Clinton. But ultimately the Democratic-Republican Party chose Madison as its candidate for president and Clinton as its candidate for vice president. Now in the race against the Federalist candidate Charles Cosworth Pinckney. “James Madison won 122 electoral votes to Pinckney’s 47; and 64.7% of the popular vote, making him the president of the United States. Later in in the 1812 presidential elections, Madison defeated his own party’s DeWitt Clinton. And was re-elected with 128 electoral votes to Clinton’s 89; and 50.4 percent of the popular vote to his opponent’s 47.6%. Serving as the fourth President of the United States from March 4, 1809 to March 4, 1817.” With his active involvement in the American government for so many years Madison tried to make a difference during his presidency as well. The most significant event that occurred during Madison’s presidency was the war of 1812. To end the war the Treaty of Ghent was created, an excerpt from the piece states, “There should be a firm universal peace between His Britannic Majesty and the United States, and between their respective countries, territories, cities, towns, and people, of every degree, without exception of places or persons.’ A treaty like this shows Madison’s great leadership skills adding this to the list of his great accomplishments. As the 4th president of the United States and a major player in the creation of the Constitution it can be said that James Madison played a big role in American history. His many endeavors contributed to the nation we are today and although he may not be as well recognized as someone such as George Washington his important role should be recognized more often.