His health failing, Washington begged out of the presidency after one term. Men from both sides of the political fence urged him to remain in office, however, so he stayed on. His second inaugural address may reveal his enthusiasm for the second term. At 135 words, it is the shortest inaugural address in history.
Closest Crony Among the Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton
What He Said: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is a force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
James Madison (1751-1836) back
Highest Political Office: President (1809-1817)
Other Accomplishments: Helped draft Virginia’s state constitution when he was 25. That document later became the model for the U.S. Constitution. Served as Jefferson’s Secretary of State.
Madison was a soft-spoken and tiny man—about 5'4" and less than 100 pounds. Even his nickname was diminutive: “Jemmy.” He was too small to serve in the Revolutionary War, and turned to politics instead.
Madison, “the Father of the Constitution”—the most important legal document in modern history—never received a law degree.
Even in his 40s, Madison was a lonely and single man. That changed when Aaron Burr introduced him to Dolley Todd. The couple married when Madison was 43, and never had children.
Dolley Madison earned a place in history when she stole away from the White House with crucial government documents and a portrait of George Washington as the British stormed the capital during the War of 1812.
Madison was the last Founding Father to die at the age of eighty-five in June, 1836.
His Politics: His presidency was marred by the War of 1812—the only war in which U.S. soil was overrun by enemy forces. The war was precipitated by the widespread sentiment that the U.S. was destined to conquer Canada, then a British territory.
Aside from the war that nearly cost him his reelection, Madison’s two terms were also memorable for the fact that both of his vice presidents died while in office.
Closest Crony Among the Founding Fathers: Jefferson and Madison were close friends throughout their lives: Madison was Jefferson’s protégé. After their presidencies, each spent many days at the other’s estate. Jefferson named one of the bedrooms at Monticello “Mr. Madison’s room.”
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