Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
James Madison Presidential $1 Coin
As you might remember from the August Coin of the Month, Thomas Jefferson is the president who came before James Madison. Madison was Secretary of State for Jefferson, and both belonged to the same political party: the Republican (or Jeffersonian) Party.
Before he was elected president, James Madison of Virginia helped to shape the Virginia Constitution, served in the Continental Congress, led in the Virginia Assembly, and helped compose the Bill of Rights. With Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, he wrote the Federalist essays. These helped the people of the newly-independent states to decide to accept as law (ratify) the Constitution.
Even though President Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 didn’t work as planned and Madison belonged to the same party, Madison was elected President in 1808. Britain and France were still at war with each other and making it hard for America to stay neutral, eventually leading to the war of 1812. The young nation was not ready to fight a war, but the war’s end and the successful Battle of New Orleans made citizens even more proud of their country.
Madison retired to Montpelier, his estate in Virginia, where he died in 1836. During his last years, states were struggling to find the balance between self-government and federal government to the point where the nation’s unity was in danger. Madison always spoke out in favor of the states remaining united as one nation.
Madison’s wife, Dolley, was a popular hostess in Washington, DC. You can get a glimpse of their times in the 1814 adventure of Time Machine. In fact, I think I’ll head over there right now!