Nickname: Father of the Constitution

Years in office: 1809–1817

Political party: Democratic-Republican

Birthday: March 16, 1751

Official presidential portrait of James Madison

by John Vanderlyn, 1816

The Star-Spangled Banner, 1813 (Photo from Smithsonian Institute)

James Madison was president during the War of 1812, when the US went to war with Great Britain once again. In the fall of 1814, the two sides fought at Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore. This flag flew above the fort and inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem that would come to be known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Key’s poem was set to music and became the official US national anthem.

Thomas Jefferson hand-selected his friend, James Madison, to be his successor in 1808. Jefferson’s trade embargoes with Britain and France made the outcome far from certain. But in the end, Madison won by a large margin.  

The onset of the War of 1812 and the election of 1812 were just days apart. Madison’s popularity was fluctuating as the Federalist Party attempted to unseat the incumbent by updating its platform to include new perspectives and opinions. The strategy failed, and Madison won a second term.


Montpelier, Montpelier Station, VA 


Montpelier, Montpelier Station, VA


Davis, Kenneth C., and Pedro Martin. Don’t Know Much about the Presidents. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.

DeGregorio, William A., and Aaron Jaffe. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, Inc., 2017.

Kane, Joseph Nathan, and Janet Podell. Facts about the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2009.


Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com

Library of Congress, loc.gov

Miller Center, University of Virginia, millercenter.org/the-presidency

The White House, whitehouse.gov

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