About this Famous Person
4th President of the United States
James Madison was born in Port Conway, Virginia. He grew up as the oldest of twelve children, of whom nine survived. His father, James Madison, Sr., (1723–1801) was a tobacco planter who grew up on an estate in Orange County, Virginia, which he inherited on reaching maturity. He later acquired still more property and became the largest landowner (5,000 acres) and leading citizen of Orange County. His mother, Nelly Conway (1731–1829), was born at Port Conway, Virginia, the daughter of a prominent planter and tobacco merchant. Madison's parents married in 1743. Both parents had a significant influence over their most famous oldest son.
From ages 11–16, A young "Jemmy" Madison studied under Donald Robertson, an instructor at the Innes plantation in King and Queen County, Virginia. Robertson was a Scottish teacher who flourished in the southern states. From Robertson, Madison learned mathematics, geography, and modern and ancient languages. He became especially proficient in Latin. Madison says he owes his bent for learning "largely to that man(Robertson)."
At age 16, he began a two-year course of study under the Reverend Thomas Martin, who tutored Madison at Montpelier in preparation for college. Unlike most college-bound Virginians of his day, Madison did not choose the College of William and Mary because the lowland climate of Williamsburg might have strained his delicate health. Instead, in 1769 he enrolled at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).
Through diligence and long hours of study that may have damaged his health, Madison graduated in 1771. His studies there included Latin, Greek, science, geography, mathematics, rhetoric, and philosophy. Great emphasis also was placed on speech and debate. After graduation, Madison remained at Princeton to study Hebrew and political philosophy under university president John Witherspoon before returning to Montpelier in the spring of 1772. Madison studied law sporadically but never gained admission to the bar.
- Category American politician