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HOME A Genuine Poet of the American People He Was Truly Amazing A Heavenly Craft Who's the Father of the Constitution? Fascinating Rhythms A Sneeze of Historic Proportions Coming To America
Who's the Father of the Constitution?

James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution because of his pivotal role in the document's drafting as well as its ratification. Madison also drafted the first 10 amendments -- the Bill of Rights.

James Madison John C. Payne's Copy of James Madison's "Original Notes on Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787."

When the federal Constitution was approved by the states and went into effect in 1789, 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 was ratified, Madison recognized that drafting a Bill of Rights was politically imperative. His "Notes for a Speech in Congress," June 8, 1789, highlights the arguments he used as a leader in the First Federal Congress to push 12 amendments to the Constitution through Congress in its first year. Ten of these amendments were ratified by the states and have been enshrined as the Bill of Rights.

The James Madison Papers are now available online and consist of approximately 12,000 items that document the fourth president's life through correspondence, personal notes, drafts of letters and legislation, an autobiography, legal and financial documents, and miscellaneous manuscripts.

For those interested in secret symbols, there is an essay on "James Madison's Ciphers." Madison, as a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, while he was secretary of state and in his personal correspondence with Jefferson, continually feared that unauthorized people would seek to read his private and public correspondence. To deter such intrusions, he resorted to a variety of codes and ciphers.

Another essay recounts Madison's experiences during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Although Madison believed that individual rights were fully protected by the Constitution without amendment, Madison recognized that drafting a Bill of Rights was politically imperative. His "Notes for a Speech in Congress," June 8, 1789, highlights the arguments he used as a leader in the First Federal Congress to push 12 amendments to the Constitution through Congress in its first year. Ten of these amendments were ratified by the states and have been enshrined as the Bill of Rights.

"The James Madison Papers" online presentation complements other online presidential papers from the Library of Congress, also available through American Memory: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

You can see all 13 collections in American Memory relating to presidents here.

The American Memory Web site offers more than 10 million digital items in more than 125 thematic collections that range from the papers of U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards.

A. James Madison, [date unknown]. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Call No.: PGA -- Ball, W.--James Madison (A size) [P&P].

B. John C. Payne's Copy of James Madison's "Original Notes on Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787." Manuscript Division. Reproduction information: Contact: //www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/ask-mss.html


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