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JAMES MADISON, THE FOURTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
Was born in Orange county, Va., March 16, 1751. His studies, preparatory to entering Princeton College, were pursued under the most favorable circumstances, he being provided with the most accomplished instructors, and he graduated with high honor in 1771. On
returning to Virginia, he zealously commenced the study of the law: which he subsequently abandoned for political life.
In 1776, he was elected to the General Assembly of Virginia; and from this period, for more than forty years, he was continually in office, serving his state and his country in various capacities, from that of a state legislator to that of President.
In 1778, he was elected by the legislature to the executive council of the state, where he rendered important aid to Henry and Jefferson, governors of Virginia, during the time he held a seat in the council; and by his probity of character, faithfulness in the discharge of duty, and amiableness of deportment, he won the approbation of these great
In the winter of 1779-80, he took his seat in the Continental Congress, and became immediately an active and leading member, as the journal of that body abundantly testifies.
In 1784, 5, '6, he was a member of the legislature of Virginia. In 1787, he became a member of the Convention held in Philadelphia, for the purpose of preparing a Constitution for the government of the United States. Perhaps no member of that body had more to do with the formation of that noble instrument, the “ Constitution of the United States of America,” than Mr. Madison.
It was during the recess between the proposition of the Constitution by the Convention of 1787, and its adoption by the states, that that celebrated work, “ The Federalist,” made its appearance. This is known to be the joint production of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. This same year he was elected to Congress, and held his seat until the Continental Congress passed away among the things that were. He was a member of the state convention of Virginia which met to adopt the Constitution, and on the establishment of the new Congress under the Constitution, he was chosen a member, retaining his seat until the close of Washington's administration.
In 1801, as one of the presidential electors, he had the gratification of voting for his illustrious friend Jefferson, who immediately offered him a place in his cabinet, which was accepted. Accordingly he entered on the discharge of his duties as Secretary of State, which duties he continued to perform during the whole of Mr. Jefferson's administration, and on the retirement of that great statesman, in 1809, he succeeded to the Presidency, in which office be served two terms.
Mr. Madison then retired to his peaceful home in Virginia, where he passed the remainder of his days in favorite pastimes, loved by the many and respected by all, until the 28th day of June, 1826, when the last survivor of the framers of our Constitution was gathered to his fathers, full of years and glory.
JA MES MONROE, THE FIFTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ONE of the few exalted characters that served his country in both a civil and military capacity, was born in Westmoreland county, Va., April 28, 1758, and was educated at William and Mary's college, whence he graduated in 1776, and commenced the study of the law. Anxious to aid in the striggle for independence, which had then just began, he abandoned his studies, and entered the army as a cadet, joining a corps under the gallant General Mercer. He soon distinguished himself in several well-fought battles, and rapid promotion
followed, until he reached the rank of captain. He was at Harlem Heights and White Plains, and shared the perils and fatigues of the distressing retreat of Washington through New Jersey, as well as the glory of the victory over the Hessians at Trenton, where he received a musket-ball in the shoulder; notwithstanding which, he valiantly
fought out the fight.” He subsequently accepted the post of an aid to Lord Stirling, with the rank of major, in which position he saw much hard service—being engaged in almost every conflict for the two succeeding campaigns, and displaying great courage and coolness at the bloody battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth.
Aspiring to a separate command, he obtained permission to raise a regiment in his native state ; for which purpose he left the army, and returned to Virginia, where he encountered so many unexpected and discouraging obstacles, that he finally relinquished the enterprise, and resumed his law studies in the office of Mr. Jefferson.
In 1780 he was elected to the Virginia legislature, and in the following year was made one of Governor Jefferson's council
, in which he continued until 1783, when, at the age of twenty-four years, he became a member of the Continental Congress. After serving three years in that body, he was again returned to the state legislature.
In 1788, while a member of the Convention to decide upon the adoption of the new Constitution, he voted in the minority against that instrument; but this vote did not at all affect his popularity. Two years afterwards he was elected United States' senator, and in 1794 he was sent envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the court of Versailles. After settling the cession of Louisiana to the United States, he went to England to succeed Mr. King as minister at the court of St. James. The affair of the frigate Chesapeake placing him in an uncomfortable situation, he returned to the United States, and, in 1820, was once more elected to the Virginia legislature. He was soon after chosen governor of that state, in which office he remained until Mr. Madison called him to assume the duties of Secre: tary of State in his cabinet. In 1817, he was elected President of the United States, and in 1821 was unanimously re-elected, with the exception of a single vote in New Hampshire. His administration was a prosperous and quiet one.
He united with Jefferson and Madison in founding the university of Virginia ; and when the convention was formed for the revision of the constitution of his state, he was called to preside over its action. Not long after this, he went to reside with a beloved daughter (the wife of Samuel L. Gouverneur, Esq.) in New York city, where he lived until the anniversary of independence in 1831, when, “amidst the pealing joy and congratulations of that proud day, he passed quietly and in glory away.”
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, THE SIXTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
Was born at Quincy, Mass., July 11, 1767, and received the advantages of a pretty thorough education before entering Harvard college, which was not until the year 1786. After graduating with marked credit, he commenced the study of law at Newburyport, in the