Founding Father and the fourth President of the United States, James Madison (1751-1836) was born on this day in Port Conway, Virginia.
The son of plantation owners and a lover of books, he had a private teacher until he was 18, then graduated from Princeton in just two years.
"It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty will be charged to dangers, real or imagined, from abroad," he once said.
Small in stature--just 5 feet 4 inches tall and 100 pounds-- "the great little Madison" made a large contibution as the main drafter of the Constitution at the Convention of 1787. "There is nothing stable but heaven and the Constitution," he said.
An advocate for freedom and a stong central government, he said, "Every word (of the Constitution) decides a question between power and liberty."
Spearheading the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1781, Madison was known for his strong work ethic and became a chief advisor to George Washington and secretary of state in Thomas Jefferson's administration. Madison and Jefferson were life-long friends.
Elected to his first of two terms as President in 1809, Madison presided over the War of 1812, what his critics called "Mr. Madisonís War." Following the successful end to the war, Madison led the country to passionate prosperity and the spirit of expansion.
In a note found after his death, Madison wrote, "The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is, that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated."
Good leaders are made with good effort.