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On the expiration of his second term he left public life, and was not identified with any political measures thereafter. But he took great interest in education, and the University of Virginia owes its existence to him. He died on the same day with John Adams, July 4, 1826, just half a century from the time when they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honors to the cause of liberty.
Jefferson never attempted the oratorical art; but his language, well chosen and clear, always received great attention in debate. As a writer on political topics, he has never been excelled, and the Declaration of Independence will cause his name to be remembered to the remotest times.
Early Advantages-Political Services to Virginia - Views on Formation
of Federal Government - On Rights on the States-Writer for the Federalist- President Eight Years-Aids the Cause of EducationUnsurpassed as Writer and Thinker.
The fourth President of the United States was born in 1751, being the eldest of seven children of a planter of wealth and good position of the same given name. He received a good education, graduating at Princeton College in 1771. His mother appears to have been a lady of fine education for those times, and what is more important in the battle of life, of good every-day sense.
His marriage at the age of forty-three years to a Virginia lady, Mrs. Todd, then twentyseven years old, was productive of the greatest happiness, though unblessed with children. She long survived him, dying at Washington July 12, 1849, at the advanced age of eighty-two years.
Madison commenced his political life in 1776, after having read law for several years and pursuing a general course of literary studies. He was first chosen a delegate to the House, losing his election the succeeding year by de
clining to canvass for the place. He was, however, selected in 1779 to represent the commonwealth in the Continental Congress, and served in that capacity three years. He was principally noted during that time for his opposition to the issuance of paper money. In 1783 he was again returned to the Legislature, serving in that body until 1787, when he was appointed a delegate to the convention which formed the United States Constitution. In that work, which was performed with closed doors, he took a very active part, and preserved the notes of the debates which constitute our principal source of information on that subject.
His views on the proper form of a federal government are stated in a letter to Washington, a copy of which, in Washington's handwriting, is still extant. He stated that he was cqually opposed to the individual independence of the States and the consolidation of the whole into one simple republic. He was in favor of Congress having a veto power upon the legislative acts of the States, and even thought that the right of coercion should be expressly dcclared—though he added that the difficulty and awkwardness of operating by force, on the collective will of a State, render it particularly desirable that the necessity of it should be precluded. His views on these subjects were afterwards considerably inodified, and most of the important provisions of the Constitution are the results of his work in co:npromising between the extreme views of the Hamilton party on the one hand and the State Rights party on the other.
The Constitution thus formed and submitted to the State3 for ratification was much debated, and was quite obnoxious to the State Rights party. Samuel Adams thought the old articles of confederation preferable. Jefferson, then Minister to France, wrote that it “stagged " him, and Patrick Henry averred that it had a “strong equinting” towards monarchy. The acceptance was, however, though in some instances rather reluctantly, obtained from all the States, an issue much aided by the appearance of a series of very able papers under the caption of the “Federalist," edited by Madison, Hamilton and John Jay. In 1789, being a representative in Congress, Madison opposed the National Bank and most of Mr. Hamilton's other measures, though he was then regarded as occupying a middle position between the two contending parties, and always retained the warm regard of Washington. On the return of Jefferson from France, Madison was offered that mission, which he declined, as also the position of Secretary of State, which Washington desired him to accept, from the consideration that he could not harmonize with Hamilton. In 1797 his term having expired he returned to Virginia.
The Alien and Sedition laws, as we have abundantly seen, were the principal political excitement at this time, and were the direct cause of the celebrated Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798-9, of which the former wero from the pen of Madison, the latter from Jefferson's. These resolutions have been much commented upon as showing the positions of these two eminent men and of the Democratic party at that time on the subject of State Rights. While the language seems to convey the idea that a State may judge when the Constitution has been violated, or its rights invaded, and apply the remedy, yet Mr. Madison very frequently and emphatically denied any such meaning.
In a letter to a friend, in 1833, he employs this conclusive language: “I do not consider the proceedings of 1798-9 as countenancing the doctrine that a State may at will cecede froin its constitutional compact with the other States."
In a letter to N. P. Trist, 1831, he says: “I cannot see the advantage of this perseverance of South Carolina in claiming the authority of the Virginia proceedings of 1798 as asserting the right of a single State to nullify an act of the United States. Where, indeed, is the fairness of attempting to palm on Virginia an intention which is contradicted by such a variety of proofs—which has at no intervening period received the slightest countenance from her, and which with one voice she now disclaims ?”