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James Madison: A Resource Guide


James Madison, President of the United States James Madison, President of the United States /
T. Sully del. ; D. Edwin fecit
.
Philadelphia: W.H. Morgan,
between 1809 and 1817.
Prints and Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-16960

Digital Collections

The James Madison Papers, 1723-1836

The James Madison Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 12,000 items captured in some 72,000 digital images. They document the life of the man who came to be known as the "Father of the Constitution" through correspondence, personal notes, drafts of letters and legislation, an autobiography, legal and financial documents, and miscellaneous manuscripts.

The online collection includes a timeline of Madison's life and an essay on his life and papers by John C. A. Stagg. Also provided are essays on Madison's role in the Constitutional Convention and his use of ciphers.

A selection of highlights from this collection include:

  • Madison's original notes on debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Madison's notes for his speech on the proposed amendments to the Constitution (Bill of Rights).
  • Madison's letter to Robert Livingston and James Monroe dated July 29, 1803, acknowledging receipt of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty.
  • Madison's observations from August 24, 1814, on the capture of Washington, D.C., by British troops.

The Related Resources section of this collection contains a selected bibliography and links to related Web sites.

Additional Digital Collections

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. Search the bibliographic records and the full text option to find items related to James Madison, including a copy of his First Annual Message to Congress dated November 29, 1809, and a proclamation announcing that the United States had declared war on Great Britain.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains a large selection of congressional material related to James Madison's political career as a delegate to the Continental Congress, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, member of the House of Representatives, secretary of state, and U.S. president. Search this collection by date and publication to find materials related to Madison.

  • The Journals of the Continental Congress documents Madison's service as a delegate to the Continental Congress during the years 1780-83 and 1787-88.
  • The Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789 includes approximately 1,000 letters to, from, or referring to James Madison.
  • Farrand's Records contains the documentary records of the Constitutional Convention. The notes taken at that time by James Madison, and later revised by him, form the largest single block of material other than the official proceedings.
  • The Annals of Congress contains congressional debate and presidential messages from Madison's service in the House of Representatives (1789-97) and his presidency (1809-17), including his speech introducing proposed amendments to the Constitution on June 8, 1789, and his message to Congress asking for a declaration of war against Great Britain on June 1, 1812.
  • The American State Papers contains the legislative and executive documents of Congress during the period 1789 to 1838, covering the time period that Madison served as secretary of state (1801-09) as well as his presidency.
  • The United States Statutes at Large contains the full text of all the laws enacted and treaties ratified during Madison's presidency, including the declaration of war against Great Britain dated June 18, 1812, and the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812.

George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799

The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Washington documents in the world. The Washington Papers contain approximately 140 items to, from, or referring to James Madison. To find these documents, go to the collection’s search page, change the number of possible hits to 200, and search on the exact phrase James Madison (do not put quotation marks around the words).

Among the collection’s Madison-related materials are:

  • A letter from Washington to Madison on November 5, 1786, expressing alarm about the state of the government during the time of Shays' Rebellion.
  • A letter from Madison to Washington on April 16, 1787, outlining his proposals for the upcoming Constitutional Convention.
  • A letter from Madison to Washington on September 30, 1787, written shortly after the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention.

"I Do Solemnly Swear...": Presidential Inaugurations

This collection contains approximately 400 items relating to presidential inaugurations, including Madison's first inauguration in 1809 and his second inauguration in 1813.

Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Jefferson documents in the world. Document types in the collection as a whole include correspondence, commonplace books, financial account books, and manuscript volumes. The Jefferson Papers contain more than 700 items to, from, or referring to James Madison. To find these documents, go to the collection’s search page, change the number of possible hits to 1000, and search on the exact phrase James Madison (do not put quotation marks around the words).

Among the collection’s Madison-related materials are:

  • A letter from Jefferson to Madison on December 20, 1787, providing his opinions on the new Constitution, including his belief that a Bill of Rights is needed.
  • A letter from outgoing President Jefferson to incoming President Madison, on April 27, 1809, offering some expansionist advice and expressing his vision of America as "an empire for liberty."
  • A letter from Jefferson to Madison on June 29, 1812, discussing the recent declaration of war against Great Britain.

Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years

In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The collection contains three documents related to James Madison, including a sales contract between Thomas Jefferson and Madison for an indentured servant's remaining term.

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  April 9, 2015
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