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James Madison was born at Port Conway Virginia on March 16 1751 the oldest of ten children born into planter aristocracy He received his early education from his mother tutors and a private school in 1771 he graduated from the College of New Jersey which became Princeton where he demonstrated special interest in government and the law He stayed for a year of postgraduate study in theology considering the ministry Undecided on a profession Madison returned to his familys estate of Montpelier and embraced the patriot cause and state and local politics became his primary interest In 1775 he served on the Orange County committee of safety the next year at the Virginia convention which besides advocating various Revolutionary steps framed the Virginia constitution in 1776-77 in the House of Delegates and in 1778-80 in the Council of State His ill health precluded any military service In 1780 Madison was chosen to represent Virginia in the Continental Congress 1780-83 and 1786-88 Although originally the youngest delegate he played a major role in the deliberations of that body Meantime in the years 1784-86 he had again sat in the Virginia House of Delegates Madison was clearly the preeminent figure at the convention Some of the delegates favored an authoritarian central government others retention of state sovereignty and most occupied positions in the middle of two extremes Madison who was rarely absent and whose Virginia Plan was in large part the basis of the Constitution advocated a strong government though many of his proposals were rejected Despite his poor speaking abilities he took the floor over 150 times His journal of the convention is the bets record of the event and he played a key part in guiding the Constitution through the Continental Congress In the US House of Representatives 1789-97 Madison helped writer and ensure the passage of the Bill of Rights He also assisted in organizing the executive department and creating a system of federal
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