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Madison (1816)

The presidency of James Madison began on March 4, 1809, when James Madison was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1817. Madison, the fourth United States president, took office after defeating Charles Cotesworth Pinckney decisively in the 1808 presidential election. He was re-elected four years later, defeating DeWitt Clinton in the 1812 election. His presidency was dominated by the War of 1812 with the United Kingdom. Madison was succeeded by Secretary of State James Monroe, a fellow member of the Democratic-Republican Party.

During his 8-year presidency, domestic affairs took a backseat to foreign affairs. After a series of diplomatic protests and a trade embargo against the United Kingdom failed to convince the British to cease attacks upon American shipping, and to recognize the rights of the neutral American ships, Madison led the U.S. into the War of 1812. The war was an administrative morass, as the United States had neither a strong army nor financial system. The British entered Washington and set fire to the White House and the Capitol. However, a few notable naval and military victories, climaxed by General Andrew Jackson's triumph at New Orleans, convinced Americans that the war had been gloriously successful.[1]

One domestic issue that did stand somewhat apart from the war itself was the struggle over the rechartering of the Bank of the United States, whose charter was up for renewal in 1811. Opposition to the bank's rechartering emanated from two interests: Old Republicans who characterized the bank as both constitutionally illegitimate and a direct threat to Jeffersonian agrarianism, state sovereignty and the institution of slavery; and private state banking interests opposed to the U.S. Bank's power to control the nation's financial business. When these interests killed the recharter drive, the U.S. confronted the British without the means to support war loans or to easily obtain government credit. In 1816, with Madison's support, the Second Bank was chartered with a twenty-year term.[2]

Election of 1808[]

1808 electoral vote results

With Jefferson's second term winding down, and his decision to retire widely known, Madison emerged as the leading presidential contender in the Democratic-Republican Party in 1808. He was opposed by Rep. John Randolph, who had broken earlier with Jefferson and Madison, Incumbent Vice President George Clinton, and former Ambassador James Monroe. The party's congressional caucus, which chose the candidate, easily selected Madison over the others.[3] As the opposition Federalist Party by this time had largely collapsed outside New England, Madison easily defeated its candidate, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney,[4] winning 122 electoral votes to Pinckney’s 47 votes. Clinton received 6 electoral votes for president from his home state New York, but easily defeated Federalist Rufus King for vice president, 113-47, with scattered vice-presidential votes for Madison, Monroe, and John Langdon.[5]

The main issue of the election was the Embargo Act of 1807, a general embargo placed on all ships and vessels in U.S. ports and harbors. The banning of exports had hurt merchants and other commercial interests, although ironically it encouraged domestic manufactures. These economic difficulties revived the Federalist opposition, especially in trade-dependent New England.[5] This election was the first of only two instances in American history in which a new president would be elected but the incumbent vice president would continue in office.



Presidency of James Madison

Upon his inauguration in 1809, Madison immediately faced opposition to his planned nomination of Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin as Secretary of State. Under opposition from Sen. William B. Giles, Madison chose not to fight Congress for the nomination but kept Gallatin, a carry over from the Jefferson administration, in the Treasury Department. The talented Swiss-born Gallatin was Madison's primary advisor, confidant, and policy planner.[6] The other members of Madison's initial cabinet were less helpful. Secretary of War William Eustis's only military experience had been as a surgeon during the American Revolutionary War, while Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton was an alcoholic.[7] Madison appointed Secretary of State Robert Smith only at the behest of Smith's brother, the powerful Senator Samuel Smith, and Madison had little trust for either brother. Vice President George Clinton also actively worked to undermine Madison's presidency, and he frequently worked against Madison in the Senate. With a cabinet full of those he distrusted, Madison rarely called cabinet meetings and instead frequently consulted with Gallatin alone. After feuding with Gallatin, Smith was dismissed in 1811, and was replaced by James Monroe, and Monroe became a major influence in the Madison administration.[8] Madison appointed several new cabinet members after winning re-election. Hamilton was finally replaced by William Jones, while John Armstrong, Jr. replaced Eustis, much to the dismay of Monroe, who hated Armstrong.[9] A frustrated Madison dismissed Armstrong after several failures, replacing him with Monroe. Richard Rush, Benjamin Williams Crowninshield, and Alexander Dallas also joined the cabinet in 1814, and for the first time Madison had an effective and harmonious cabinet.[10]

Vice Presidents[]

Two persons served as vice president under Madison:

  • George Clinton served from March 4, 1809 until his death on April 20, 1812. Clinton, who had also served as Vice President during Thomas Jefferson's second term (1805–1809), was the first vice president to die in office.
  • Elbridge Gerry served from March 4, 1813 until his death on November 23, 1814.

As no constitutional provision existed for filling an intra-term vacancy in the vice presidency (prior to ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967), the office was left vacant on both occasions until filled through the next ensuing election and inauguration. Madison is the only president to have had two vice presidents die while in office.

Judicial appointments[]

Madison had the opportunity to fill two vacancies on the Supreme Court during his presidency. The first came late in 1810, following the death of Associate Justice William Cushing. As Supreme Court justices of the time had to ride circuit, Madison had to find a replacement Cushing's home of New England, but there were few qualified potential nominees who were compatible ideologically and politically. At Jefferson's recommendation, Madison first offered the position to former Attorney General Levi Lincoln Sr., but he declined due to ailing health. Madison then nominated Alexander Wolcott, an undisguised partisan of the Democratic-Repubicans, but Wolcott was rejected by the Senate. The next nominee was John Quincy Adams, then serving as the ambassador to Russia, but Adams declined as he hoped to one day inhabit another office. Finally, over the objections of Jefferson, Madison offered the position to Joseph Story, a young Democratic-Republican lawyer who had voted against the embargo during his one term in the House. Story was quickly confirmed by the Senate, and would serve until 1845. Another vacancy arose in 1811, following the death of Associate Justice Samuel Chase. Madison nominated Gabriel Duvall to fill the vacancy on November 15, 1811. Duvall was confirmed by the Senate on November 18, 1811, and received commission the same day. Though Jefferson and Madison had hoped to weaken Chief Justice John Marshall's influence on the Marshall Court, neither of Madison's appointments altered the Federalist ideological leanings of the court.[11]

Madison appointed eleven other federal judges, two to the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, and nine to the various United States district courts. One of those judges was appointed twice, to different seats on the same court.

First term, 1809–1813[]

Bank of the United States[]

Madison sought to continue Jefferson's agenda—in particular the dismantling of the Hamiltonian banking system. One of the most pressing issues Madison confronted was the first Bank of the United States. Its twenty-year charter was scheduled to expire in 1811, and while Gallatin insisted that the bank was a necessity, Congress failed to re-authorize it. As the absence of a national bank made war with Britain very difficult to finance, Congress passed a bill in 1814 chartering a second national bank. Madison vetoed it and financing the war became even more difficult.[12][13]

West Florida[]

A sketch map published in 1898 showing the territorial changes of "West Florida"[14]p 2

The acquisition of West Florida from Spain had been one of President Jefferson's major goals. Jefferson and James Monroe, who had negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, contended that the purchase had included West Florida, and Madison continued to uphold this claim. The United States was reluctant to go to war with Spain when France or Great Britain might intervene, and Madison instead sent William Wykoff into West Florida in hopes of stirring up a local rebellion against Spain. A group of dissidents declared the Republic of West Florida, and Madison quickly sent federal troops into the territory, annexing it to the Territory of Orleans. Madison also sent George Mathews and John McKee into East Florida in an attempt to undermine Spanish rule, but they were unsuccessful in fomenting a revolt.[15] In 1812, the Republic of West Florida was incorporated into the Territory of Orleans, which became the state of Louisiana.[16] The U.S. occupied the remaining portions of West Florida during the War of 1812, and the U.S. incorporated these lands into the Mississippi Territory. Spain would later recognize U.S. control of West Florida in the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819.[17]

Prelude to war[]

Napoleon had won a decisive victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, and as a consequence Europe remained mostly at peace for the next few years, but tensions continued on the high seas, where the United States had long traded with both France and Britain. In response to British and French attacks on American shipping, the Jefferson administration had passed the Embargo Act of 1807, which cut off all trade with the French and British. Congress repealed this act shortly before Madison became president.[18] America's new "nonintercourse" policy was to trade with all countries including France and Britain if restrictions on shipping were removed.[19] Although initially promising, Madison's diplomatic efforts to get the British to withdraw the Orders in Council were rejected by British Foreign Secretary George Canning in April 1809.[20] Aside from U.S. trade with France, the central dispute between the Great Britain and the United States was the impressment of sailors by the British. During the long and expensive war against France, many British citizens were forced by their own government to join the navy, and many of these conscripts defected to U.S. merchant ships. Unable to tolerate this loss of manpower, the British seized several U.S. ships and forced captured crewmen, some of whom were not in fact not British subjects, to serve in the British navy. Though Americans were outraged by this impressment, they also refused to take steps to limit it, such as refusing to hire British subjects. For economic reasons, American merchants preferred impressment to giving up their right to hire British sailors.[21]

By August 1809, diplomatic relations with Britain deteriorated as minister David Erskine was withdrawn and replaced by "hatchet man" Francis James Jackson.[22] Madison however, resisted calls for war, as he was ideologically opposed to the debt and taxes necessary for a war effort.[23] British historian Paul Langford sees the removal in 1809 of Erskine as a major British blunder:

The British ambassador in Washington [Erskine] brought affairs almost to an accommodation, and was ultimately disappointed not by American intransigence but by one of the outstanding diplomatic blunders made by a Foreign Secretary. It was Canning who, in his most irresponsible manner and apparently out of sheer dislike of everything American, recalled the ambassador Erskine and wrecked the negotiations, a piece of most gratuitous folly. As a result, the possibility of a new embarrassment for Napoleon turned into the certainty of a much more serious one for his enemy. Though the British cabinet eventually made the necessary concessions on the score of the Orders-in-Council, in response to the pressures of industrial lobbying at home, its action came too late…. The loss of the North American markets could have been a decisive blow. As it was by the time the United States declared war, the Continental System [of Napoleon] was beginning to crack, and the danger correspondingly diminishing. Even so, the war, inconclusive though it proved in a military sense, was an irksome and expensive embarrassment which British statesman could have done much more to avert.[24]

After Jackson accused Madison of duplicity with Erskine, Madison had Jackson barred from the State Department and sent packing to Boston.[25] During his first State of the Union Address in November 1809, Madison asked Congress for advice and alternatives concerning the British-American trade crisis, and warned of the possibility of war. By spring 1810, Madison was specifically asking Congress for more appropriations to increase the Army and Navy in preparation for war with Britain.[26]

By 1809 the Federalist Party was no longer competitive outside a few strongholds. Some former members (such as John Quincy Adams, Madison's ambassador to Russia) had joined Madison's Republican Party.[27] Though one party appeared to dominate, it had begun to split into rival factions, which would later form the basis of the Second Party System. In particular, with hostilities against Britain appearing increasingly likely, factions favoring and opposing a war formed in Congress.[28] The predominant faction, the "War Hawks," were led by House Speaker Henry Clay. When war finally did break out, the war effort was led by the War Hawks in Congress under Clay at least as much as it was by Madison; this accorded with the president's preference for checks and balances.[29]

War of 1812[]

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeats British Navy at the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.
Powell 1873.

With continued attacks by the British on American shipping, both Madison and the broader American public were ready for war with Britain.[30] Many Americans called for a "second war of independence" to restore honor and stature to the new nation.[31] With Britain in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, many Americans, Madison included, believed that the United States could easily capture Canada, at which point the U.S. could use Canada as a bargaining chip for all other disputes or simply retain control of it.[32] An angry public elected a "war hawk" Congress, led by Clay and John C. Calhoun. On June 1, 1812, Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war.[33] The declaration was passed along sectional and party lines, with intense opposition from the Federalists and the Northeast, where the economy had suffered during Jefferson's trade embargo.[34][35]

Madison hurriedly called on Congress to put the country "into an armor and an attitude demanded by the crisis," specifically recommending enlarging the army, preparing the militia, finishing the military academy, stockpiling munitions, and expanding the navy.[36] Madison faced formidable obstacles—a divided cabinet, a factious party, a recalcitrant Congress, obstructionist governors, and incompetent generals, together with militia who refused to fight outside their states. The most serious problem facing the war effort was lack of unified popular support. There were serious threats of disunion from New England, which engaged in extensive smuggling with Canada and refused to provide financial support or soldiers.[37] Events in Europe also went against the United States. Shortly after the United States declared war, Napoleon launched an invasion of Russia, and the failure of that campaign turned the tide against French and towards Britain and her allies.[38] In the years prior to the war, Jefferson and Madison had reduced the size of the military, closed the Bank of the U.S., and narrowed lowered taxes. These decisions added to the challenges facing the United States, as by the time the war began, Madison's military force consisted mostly of poorly trained militia members.[citation needed]

USS Constitution defeats HMS Guerriere, a significant event during the war.

Military action[]

Madison hoped that the war would quickly be over in a couple months after the capture of Canada, but his hopes were quickly dashed.[32] Madison had believed the state militias would rally to the flag and invade Canada, but the governors in the Northeast failed to cooperate. Their militias either sat out the war or refused to leave their respective states for action. The senior command at the War Department and in the field proved incompetent or cowardly—the general at Detroit surrendered to a smaller British force without firing a shot. Gallatin discovered the war was almost impossible to fund, since the national bank had been closed and major financiers in the Northeast refused to help.[39] The American campaign in Canada, led by Henry Dearborn, ended with defeat in the Battle of Stoney Creek.[40] The British armed American Indians in the Northwest, most notably several tribes allied with the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh. But, after losing control of Lake Erie at the naval Battle of Lake Erie in 1813, the British were forced to retreat. General William Henry Harrison caught up with them at the Battle of the Thames, where he destroyed the British and Indian armies, killed Tecumseh, and permanently destroyed Indian power in the Great Lakes region. Madison remains the only president to lead troops in battle while in office, although that battle (the Battle of Bladensburg in 1814) did not go well for the American side. The British then raided Washington, as Madison headed a dispirited militia. Dolley Madison rescued White House valuables and documents shortly before the British burned the White House, the Capitol and other public buildings.[41][42]

After the disastrous start to the War of 1812, Madison accepted a Russian invitation to arbitrate the war and sent Gallatin, John Quincy Adams, and James Bayard to Europe in hopes of quickly ending the war.[32] While Madison worked to end the war, the U.S. experienced some military success, particularly at sea. The U.S. naval squadron on Lake Erie successfully defended itself and captured its opponents of the Royal Navy. All six British vessels were captured by the American forces. This victory crippled the supply and reinforcement of British military forces in the western theatre of the war, which forced the British troops and their Native allies to retreat. Commander Oliver Hazard Perry reported his victory with the simple statement, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours."[43] America had built up one of the largest merchant fleets in the world, though it had been partially dismantled under Jefferson and Madison. Madison authorized many of these ships to become privateers in the war. Armed, they captured 1,800 British ships.[44] As part of the war effort, an American naval shipyard was built up at Sackets Harbor, New York, where thousands of men produced twelve warships and had another nearly ready by the end of the war. By 1814, generals Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison had destroyed the main Indian threats in the South and West, respectively. In late 1814, Madison and his Secretary of War James Monroe unsuccessfully asked Congress to establish a national draft of 40,000 men.[45]

The unfinished United States Capitol was set ablaze by the British on August 24, 1814.

The courageous, successful defense of Ft. McHenry, which guarded the seaway to Baltimore, against one of the most intense naval bombardments in history (over 24 hours), led Francis Scott Key to write the poem that was set to music as the U.S. national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."[46] U.S. victory at the Battle of Plattsburgh ended British hopes of conquering New York.[47] In New Orleans, Gen. Andrew Jackson put together a force including regular Army troops, militia, frontiersmen, Creoles, Native American allies and Jean Lafitte's pirates. The Battle of New Orleans took place two weeks after peace treaty was drafted (but before it was ratified, so the war was not over). The American defenders repulsed the British invasion army in the most decisive victory of the war.[48] The Treaty of Ghent ended the war in February 1815, with no territorial gains on either side. The Americans felt that their national honor had been restored in what has been called "the Second War of American Independence."[49] On March 3, 1815, the U.S. Congress authorized deployment of naval power against Algiers, and two squadrons were assembled and readied for war; the Second Barbary War would mark the beginning of the end for piracy in that region.

To most Americans, the quick succession of events at the end of the war (the burning of the capital, the Battle of New Orleans, and the Treaty of Ghent) appeared as though American valor at New Orleans had forced the British to surrender after almost winning. This view, while inaccurate, strongly contributed to the post-war euphoria that persisted for a decade. It also helps explain the significance of the war, even if it was strategically inconclusive. Napoleon was defeated for the last time at the Battle of Waterloo near the end of Madison's presidency, and as the Napoleonic Wars ended, so did the War of 1812. Madison's final years began an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, which was called the Era of Good Feelings. Madison's reputation as president improved and Americans finally believed the United States had established itself as a world power.[50]

Second term, 1813-1817[]

The Hartford Convention and the Federalists[]

The War of 1812 was extremely unpopular in New England, and in December 1814 delegates from the six New England states met at the Hartford Convention to discuss their grievances. Though some at the convention sought secession, most were not yet willing to call for such a drastic action. The convention sent a delegation, led by Harrison Gray Otis, to Washington, D.C., where the delegates asked for several amendments to the Constitution. The delegates arrived shortly after news of both the Battle of New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent, and the Hartford delegation was largely ignored by Congress. Madison, who had worried that the convention would lead to outright revolt, was relieved that the major outcome of the convention was the request of several impracticable amendments.[51] The Hartford Convention delegates had largely been Federalists, and with Americans celebrating a successful "second war of independence" from Britain, the Hartford Convention became a political millstone around the Federalist Party. After the War of 1812, the Federalist Party slid into national oblivion, although it would retain pockets of support into the 1820s.[citation needed]

Postwar economy and internal improvements[]

In the aftermath of the war, Madison advocated for increased military spending (compared to pre-war levels), a new national bank, a protective tariff, and a constitutional amendment to explicitly authorize Congress to fund internal improvements. These initiatives represented a major change in course for the Democratic-Republican president, and were opposed by strict constructionists like John Randolph. Madison won the enactment of a higher tariff relatively easily. The chartering of the new Second Bank of the United States received more opposition, but Congress nonetheless passed a bill granting the bank a twenty-five-year charter.[52] While Madison presided over the implementation of new legislation, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander J. Dallas reorganized the Treasury Department, brought the government budget back into surplus, and put the nation back on the specie system that relied on gold and silver.[53] In 1816, pensions were extended to orphans and widows of the War of 1812 for a period of 5 years at the rate of half pay.[54] Madison also approved federal spending on the Cumberland Road, which provided a link to the country's western lands.[55] However, in his last act before leaving office, he vetoed the Bonus Bill of 1817, which would have financed more internal improvements, including roads, bridges, and canals. In making the veto, Madison argued that the General Welfare Clause did not broadly authorize federal spending on internal improvements.[56]

Wilkinson affair[]

James Wilkinson

General James Wilkinson had been appointed governor of the Louisiana Territory by Jefferson in 1805. Madison in 1809, placed Wilkinson in charge of Terre aux Boeufs on the Louisiana coast to protect the U.S. from invasion. Wilkinson proved to be an incompetent general; many soldiers complained that he was ineffectual: their tents were defective, and they became sick by malaria, dysentery, and scurvy; dozens died daily. Wilkinson made excuses and a long Congressional investigation was inconclusive. Madison retained Wilkinson because of his political influence in Pennsylvania. After Wilkinson's two battle defeats by the British, Madison finally relieved him from active duty in 1812. Historian Robert Allen Rutland states the Wilkinson affair left "scars on the War Department" and "left Madison surrounded by senior military incompetents ..." at the beginning of the War of 1812.[57]

Indian policy[]

Creek men being taught how to use a plow by Benjamin Hawkins in 1805. Madison believed learning European-style agriculture would help the Creek adopt the values of British-American civilization.

Madison had a paternalistic attitude toward American Indians, encouraging the men to give up hunting and become farmers. He stated in 1809 that the federal government's duty was to convert the American Indians by the "participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state".[58] As President, Madison often met with Southeastern and Western Indians who included the Creek and Osage.[59] As pioneers and settlers moved West into large tracts of Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw territory, Madison ordered the US Army to protect Native lands from intrusion by settlers, to the chagrin of his military commander Andrew Jackson. Jackson wanted the President to ignore Indian pleas to stop the invasion of their lands and resisted carrying out the president's order.[60] Indians under Tecumseh made war on American settlers in 1811 and allied with the British in the war of 1812. The defeated Indians ceded their claims and were moved to western reservations.[60][61]

Constitutional amendments[]

  • May 1, 1810: Congress approved an amendment to the United States Constitution that would strip United States citizenship from any citizen who accepted a title of nobility from a foreign country, and submitted it to the state legislatures for ratification. (Note: This amendment, commonly known as the Titles of Nobility Amendment, has not been ratified by the requisite number of states to become part of the Constitution, and is still pending before the states.)[62]

States admitted to the Union[]

Two new states were admitted to the Union while Madison was in office:

  • Louisiana – April 30, 1812[63]
  • Indiana – December 11, 1816[64]


Election of 1812[]

1812 electoral vote results

A dissident group of New York Democratic-Republicans nominated DeWitt Clinton, the Lieutenant Governor of New York and the nephew of Vice President George Clinton, to opposed Madison in the 1812 election. This faction of Demoratic-Republicans hoped to unseat the president by forging a coalition among Republicans opposed to the coming war, Democratic-Republicans angry with Madison for not moving more decisively toward war, northerners weary of the Virginia dynasty and southern control of the White House, and disgruntled New Englanders who wanted almost anyone over Madison. Dismayed about their prospects of beating Madison, a group of top Federalists met with Clinton's supporters to discuss a unification strategy. Difficult as it was for them to join forces, they nominated Clinton for President and Jared Ingersoll, a Philadelphia lawyer, for vice president.[65]

Hoping to shore up his support in the Northeast, where the War of 1812 was unpopular, Madison selected Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts as his running mate, replacing the recently-deceased George Clinton.[66] Despite the maneuverings of Clinton and the Federalists, Madison won re-election, though by the narrowest margin of any election since the election of 1800. He received 128 electoral votes to 89 for Clinton.[67] This election was the first war time election of a president, as the War of 1812 had begun a month after Madison was renominated. While the war was largely popular there were many who either opposed the war or, opposed how it was being prosecuted.[68] The election also proved to be the last one of significance for the Federalist party, as the party never again mounted a strong challenge for the presidency.[5]

Election of 1816[]

In the 1816 presidential election, Madison and Jefferson both favored the candidacy of another Virginian, Secretary of State James Monroe. With the support of Madison and Jefferson, Monroe defeated Secretary of War William H. Crawford in the party's congressional nominating caucus. Governor Daniel Tompkins of New York agreed to serve as Monroe's running mate. As the Federalist Party continued to collapse as a national party, Monroe easily defeated Federalist Rufus King in the 1816 election.[69]


Although the Madison presidency ended on a popular high note, with a sense of victory in a second war of independence, historians have been much more critical.[70] The praise Madison receives from historians comes largely from his achievements before 1800. Historians are blistering in criticizing Madison's conduct of the war.[71] Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris in 1968 said the conventional view of Madison was as an "incapable President" who "mismanaged an unnecessary war."[72] Garry Wills identifies four main causes of his failure in the conduct of the war: he made no provision for intelligence, he tolerated a confused command structure, political influence trumped ability in his selection of senior military and civilian appointments, and he trusted the militia more than a standing professional army.[73][74]

In civilian affairs, Marshall Smelser argues that Madison allowed Congress to seize powers from the presidency, not in the constitutional sense, but as a practical matter. The Republican Party Caucus took control of nominating the next president, so it became the cockpit for high-level political maneuvering, leaving the president in the cold. Furthermore, congressional caucuses, standing committees, and the Speaker gained new powers, such as the ability to block nominations. Madison was unable to get the Senate to approve Gallatin as the Secretary of State. Smelser concludes:

the Presidency was weaker in 1815 than at any earlier time. The Congress made policy and, to some extent, influenced administrative detail. Madison's conduct has brought him condemnation as a weakling.[75]

Summarizing all of the evaluations, Skidmore concludes:

He blundered, he deferred excessively to Congress, and he took the United States deliberately into war that could have been disastrous – and was in fact disastrous to the extent that it lead to destruction of the national capitol. Some of his actions reflected a view incompatible with continued development of the modern nation state. Nevertheless, other of his actions strengthened the constitutional system. Additionally, he prepared the country – perhaps unconsciously – truly to enter the new century, and in many ways he conducted himself in a manner that could serve as a model for presidents, even today....One could look only at the accomplishments and conclude that Madison's presidency was "great." Or by considering only his failures of leadership could conclude that it was weak and bumbling.[76]

See also[]


  1. "James Madison". the White House. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  2. "James Madison: Domestic Affairs". Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  3. David A. Carson, "Quiddism and the Reluctant Candidacy of James Monroe in the Election of 1808," Mid-America 1988 70(2): 79–89
  4. Rutland (1999), p. 5
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Presidential Elections". A+E Networks. Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  6. Rutland (1990), pp. 32–33.
  7. Wills 2002, p. 63.
  8. Wills 2002, pp. 64–65, 90.
  9. Wills 2002, pp. 116–118.
  10. Wills 2002, pp. 153–154.
  11. Wills 2002, pp. 71–73.
  12. Rutland, ed. Madison Encyclopedia (1994) p 27-29.
  13. Schouler, History pp 494-97.
  14. Chambers, Henry E. (May 1898). West Florida and its relation to the historical cartography of the United States. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins Press. 
  15. Wills 2002, pp. 77–79.
  16. Scallions, Cody (Fall 2011). "The Rise and Fall of the Original Lone Star State: Infant American Imperialism Ascendant in West Florida". pp. 193–220. 
  17. Rodriguez, Junius P. (2002). The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 350. 
  18. Rutland (1990), p. 13
  19. Rutland (1990), p. 39
  20. Bradford Perkins, Prologue to war: England and the United States, 1805–1812 (1961) full text online
  21. Wills 2002, pp. 81–84.
  22. Rutland (1990), pp. 40–44.
  23. Wills 2002, p. 62–63
  24. Paul Langford, The eighteenth century: 1688-1815 (1976) p 228
  25. Rutland (1990), pp. 44–45.
  26. Rutland (1990), pp. 46–47
  27. Rutland (1990), p. 55.
  28. Rutland (2012), p. 57
  29. Wills 2002, pp. 94–95.
  30. Wills 2002, pp. 94–96.
  31. Norman K. Risjord, "1812: Conservatives, War Hawks, and the Nation's Honor," William And Mary Quarterly, 1961 18(2): 196–210. in JSTOR
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Wills 2002, pp. 97–98.
  33. Wills 2002, pp. 95–96.
  34. Rutland, James Madison: The Founding Father, pp. 217–24
  35. Ketcham (1971), James Madison, pp. 508–09
  36. Ketcham (1971), James Madison, pp. 509–15
  37. Stagg, 1983.
  38. Wills 2002, pp. 99–100.
  39. Donald R. Hickey, The War of 1812: A Short History (U. of Illinois Press, 1995)
  40. Wills 2002, pp. 122–123.
  41. Thomas Fleming, "Dolley Madison Saves The Day" Smithsonian 40#12 (2010): 50-56.
  42. Anthony Pitch, The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814 (2013).
  43. Roosevelt, Theodore, The Naval War of 1812, pp. 147–52, The Modern Library, New York, NY.
  44. Rowen, Bob, "American Privateers in the War of 1812," paper presented to the New York Military Affairs Symposium, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2001, revised for Web publication, 2006-8 (, retrieved 6-6-11.
  45. David Stephen Heidler; Jeanne T. Heidler (2002). The War of 1812. p. 46. 
  46. "The Star-Spangled Banner and the War of 1812," Encyclopedia Smithsonian (, retrieved 3-10-08.
  47. Wills 2002, pp. 130–131.
  48. Reilly, Robin, The British at the Gates: The New Orleans Campaign in the War of 1812, 1974.
  49. "Second War of American Independence," America's Library Web site ( retrieved, 6-6-11.
  50. Rutland (1988), p. 188
  51. Wills 2002, pp. 145–146, 150.
  52. Rutland (1990), pp. 195–198.
  53. Raymond Walters Jr, "The origins of the Second Bank of the United States." Journal of Political Economy 53.2 (1945): 115-131. online
  54. Piehler, G. Kurt, ed (July 24, 2013). "Benefits, Veteran". Encyclopedia of Military Science. SAGE Publications. p. 220. ISBN 9781452276328. 
  55. Rutland (1990), pp. 198–199.
  56. Rutland (1990), pp. 204–207.
  57. Rutland, The Presidency of James Madison pp 58-59
  58. Rutland (1990), p. 20, 37
  59. Rutland (1990), p. 37.
  60. 60.0 60.1 Rutland (1990), pp. 199–200
  61. John P. Bowes, "Transformation and Transition: American Indians and the War of 1812 in the Lower Great Lakes." Journal of Military History 76.4 (2012).
  62. Huckabee, David C. (September 30, 1997). "Ratification of Amendments to the U.S. Constitution". Congressional Research Service reports. Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress. 
  63. "About Louisiana: quick facts". 
  64. Bennett, Pamela J., ed (September 1999). "The final steps to statehood". Indiana Historical Bureau. pp. 10–11. ISSN 1071-3301. 
  65. "James Madison: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  66. Wills 2002, pp. 115–116.
  67. "1812 Presidential Election". Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  68. "1812 Election Results Madison vs Clinton". History Central. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  69. Burstein and Isenberg 2010, pp. 559–563
  70. Max J. Skidmore, Presidential Performance: A Comprehensive Review (2004) pp 45-56 summarizes the historiography.
  71. Rutland, ed. Madison Encyclopedia (1994) pp 273, 281.
  72. Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris, "Editors Introduction," to Marshall Smelser, The Democratic Republic: 1801-1815 (1968) p xii
  73. Skidmore, Presidential performance p 52.
  74. Garry Wills, James Madison (2002), p 45.
  75. Marshall Smelser, The Democratic Republic, p 318
  76. Max J. Skidmore, Presidential Performance: A Comprehensive Review (2004) p 56.


Surveys and reference[]

  • Adams, Henry. History of the United States during the Administrations of James Madison (5 vol 1890–1891; 2 vol Library of America, 1986). ISBN 0-940450-35-6 Table of contents
    • Wills, Garry. Henry Adams and the Making of America. (2005); a retelling of Adams' history
  • Buel Jr, Richard, and Jeffers Lennox. Historical dictionary of the early American republic (2nd ed. 2016). excerpt
  • Channing, Edward. A history of the United States: volume IV: Federalists and Republicans 1789-1815 (1917) pp 402–566 online; Old, highly detailed narrative
  • DeConde, Alexander. A History of American Foreign Policy (1963) online edition pp 97–125
  • Ketcham, Ralph. "James Madison" in Henry Graff, ed. The Presidents: A Reference History (3rd ed. 2002) online
  • Rutland, Robert A. ed. James Madison and the American Nation, 1751–1836: An Encyclopedia (Simon & Schuster, 1994).
  • Schouler, James. History of the United States of America Under the Constitution: vol 2 1801-1817 (2nd ed. 1894) pp 310–517; old detailed narrative; complete text online
  • Smelser, Marshall. The Democratic Republic, 1801 1815 (1969) in The New American Nation Series.


  • Brant, James. James Madison: The President, 1809-1812 (1956)
  • Brant, James. James Madison: Commander in Chief, 1812-1836 (1956)
  • Brant, Irving (1970). The Fourth President; a Life of James Madison. Easton Press.  Single volume condensation of his 6-vol biography
  • Broadwater, Jeff. James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of a Nation. (U of North Carolina Press, 2012).
  • Burstein, Andrew; Isenberg, Nancy (2010). Madison and Jefferson. Random House. 
  • Chadwick, Bruce. James and Dolley Madison: America's First Power Couple (Prometheus Books; 2014) 450 pages; detailed popular history
  • Howard, Hugh. Mr. and Mrs. Madison's War: America's First Couple and the War of 1812 (Bloomsbury, 2014).
  • Ketcham, Ralph (1971). James Madison: A Biography. Macmillan. , recent scholarly biography excerpt
  • Ketcham, Ralph. James Madison: A Biography (1971), 755pp; excerpt
  • Rutland, Robert A. James Madison: The Founding Father. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 978-0-02-927601-3.
  • Skeen, Carl Edward. “Mr. Madison’s Secretary of War.” Pennsylvania Magazine 100 (1976): 336-55. on John Armstrong, Jr.
  • Skeen, C. Edward. John Armstrong, Jr., 1758-1843: A Biography (1981), Scholarly biography of the Secretary of War.
  • Walters, Raymond. Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat (1957).
  • Wills, Garry. James Madison: The American Presidents Series: The 4th President, 1809-1817 (Times Books, 2015).

Scholarly studies[]

  • Banner, Jr., James M. (1974). C. Vann Woodward. ed. Responses of the Presidents to Charges of Misconduct. ISBN 0-440-05923-2. 
  • Belko, William S. "The Origins of the Monroe Doctrine Revisited: The Madison Administration, the West Florida Revolt, and the No Transfer Policy." Florida Historical Quarterly 90.2 (2011): 157-192. in JSTOR
  • Bickham, Troy. The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812 (Oxford UP, 2012).
  • Broadwater, Jeff. "James Madison, the War of 1812 and the Paradox of a Republican Presidency." Maryland Historical Magazine, 109#4 (2014): 428-51.
  • Buel, Richard. America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic (2015).
  • Fitz, Caitlin A. "The Hemispheric Dimensions of Early US Nationalism: The War of 1812, Its Aftermath, and Spanish American Independence." Journal of American History 102.2 (2015): 356-379.
  • Gates, Charles M. "The West in American Diplomacy, 1812-1815." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 26.4 (1940): 499-510. in JSTOR
  • Hatzenbuehler, Ronald L. "Party Unity and the Decision for War in the House of Representatives, 1812." William and Mary Quarterly (1972) 29#3: 367-390. in JSTOR
  • Hatzenbuehler, Ronald L., and Robert L. Ivie. "Justifying the War of 1812: Toward a Model of Congressional Behavior in Early War Crises." Social Science History 4.4 (1980): 453-477.
  • Hill, Peter P. Napoleon's Troublesome Americans: Franco-American Relations, 1804-1815 (Potomac Books, Inc., 2005).
  • Kaplan, L. S. “France and Madison’s decision for war, 1812.” Mississippi Valley Historical Review (1964) 50 : 652–671.
  • Kleinerman, Benjamin A. "The Constitutional Ambitions of James Madison's Presidency." Presidential Studies Quarterly 44.1 (2014): 6-26.
  • Leiner, Frederick C. The end of Barbary terror: America's 1815 war against the pirates of North Africa (Oxford UP, 2006).
  • Nester, William R. Titan: The Art of British Power in the Age of Revolution and Napoleon (U of Oklahoma Press, 2016).
  • Pancake, John S. "The 'Invisibles': A Chapter in the Opposition to President Madison." Journal of Southern History 21.1 (1955): 17-37. in JSTOR
  • Perkins, Bradford. Prologue to War: England and the United States, 1805-1812 (U of California Press, 1961). full text online free
  • Perkins, Bradford. Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812-1823 (U of California Press, 1964).
  • Risjord, Norman K. "1812: Conservatives, War Hawks and the Nation's Honor." William and Mary Quarterly (1961) 18#2: 196-210. in JSTOR
  • Rutland, Robert A. The Presidency of James Madison (Univ. Press of Kansas, 1990). ISBN 978-0700604654. scholarly overview of his two terms.
  • Siemers, David J. "Theories about Theory: Theory‐Based Claims about Presidential Performance from the Case of James Madison." Presidential Studies Quarterly 38.1 (2008): 78-95.
  • Siemers, David J. "President James Madison and Foreign Affairs, 1809–1817: Years of Principle and Peril." in Stuart Leibiger ed., A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe (2012): 207-223.
  • Snow, Peter. When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington (2014).
  • Stagg, John C. A. Mr. Madison's War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American Republic, 1783-1830 (1983).
  • Stagg, J.C.A. The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent (Cambridge UP, 2012) short survey.
  • Stagg, John C. A. "James Madison and the 'Malcontents': The Political Origins of the War of 1812," William and Mary Quarterly 33#4 (1976), pp. 557–85. in JSTOR
  • Stagg, John C. A. "James Madison and the Coercion of Great Britain: Canada, the West Indies, and the War of 1812," in William and Mary Quarterly 38#1 (1981), 3–34. in JSTOR
  • Stagg, John C. A. Mr. Madison's War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American republic, 1783–1830. (Princeton UP, 1983).
  • Stagg, John C. A. Borderlines in Borderlands: James Madison and the Spanish-American Frontier, 1776–1821 (2009)
  • Stuart, Reginald C. Civil-military Relations During the War of 1812 (ABC-CLIO, 2009).
  • Sugden, John. "The Southern Indians in the War of 1812: The Closing Phase." Florida Historical Quarterly 60.3 (1982): 273-312.
  • Trautsch, Jasper M. "' Mr. Madison's War' or the Dynamic of Early American Nationalism?." Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10.3 (2012): 630-670. online
  • White, Leonard D. The Jeffersonians: A Study in Administrative History, 1801–1829 (1951), explains the operation and organization of federal administration
  • Zinman, Donald A. "The Heir Apparent Presidency of James Madison." Presidential Studies Quarterly 41.4 (2011): 712-726.


  • Leibiger, Stuart, ed. A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe (2012) excerpt
    • Haworth, Peter Daniel. "James Madison and James Monroe Historiography: A Tale of Two Divergent Bodies of Scholarship." in A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe (2013): 521-539.
  • Trautsch, Jasper M. "The causes of the War of 1812: 200 years of debate." Journal of Military History 77.1 (2013): 275-93. online

Primary sources[]

External links[]

U.S. Presidential Administrations
Preceded by
Madison Presidency
Succeeded by

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