There is no one author of the constitution. It was written by several different people. Also, it includes language that was directly lifted from other places.
However, we can attempt to answer.
Who is the father of the constitution?
The most straightforward (but wrong) answer is that James Madison was the author of the Constitution in May 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
James Madison is known as the person who wrote the US Constitution and the father of the constitution.
James Madison wrote the constitution, but there were other authors.
Perhaps the most admirable thing about James Madison was that he refused to take credit for writing the United States Constitution, insisting that although he wrote such an important historical document, it was a collection of several other ideas and beliefs on democracy.
If you study the United States constitution, you will understand that the concept of a collection of ideas is highly accurate and made way for the rest of American history and its independence.
Early Life of James Madison
Born on March 16th, 1751, James Madison was the eldest of twelve children. James and his siblings were given a privileged life filled with love and education on a 2600 acre plantation in Port Conway, Virginia.
At 18, Madison went to the College of New Jersey, which is now known as Princeton University.
Upon graduating from college, James developed a profound interest in political matters, which introduced him to the idea of a constitution.
His brief attempt at a military career began when he was appointed a colonel in his local militia during the American Revolutionary War.
From the military to politics
Because he was small and in poor health, James Madison left his position three years later and switched to a political career. He was elected to be the youngest delegate in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia during the year 1780.
He left in 1780 to focus his time on furthering the call for religious freedom and passing such a statute in his home state Virginia.
Madison wrote the Virginia Plan
During his time in the Continental Congress, he was highly influential. During that time, Madison drafted, wrote, and passed the Virginia Plan, which the country would utilize in years to write the text of the original Constitution.
The Virginia Plan outlined the three distinct branches of the central government:
- The executive branch of government
- The legislative branch of government
- The judicial branch of government.
It also introduced having a House and Senate forming the national government.
Articles of Confederation Demanding Change
Upon leaving the Continental Congress, Congress passed the Articles of Confederation in 1777, which served as the unofficial first form of an American Constitution. Unfortunately, as helpful as the document was, the Articles of Confederation were full of flaws. They needed to be reconstructed if they were to be used for the successful running of the country.
James Madison, along with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, composed what came to be known as the Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers were a radical series of thoughts and demands that boldly called for the revision of the Articles of Confederation. They were printed in the newspaper for all to read.
Writing the United States Constitution
Finally, in 1787, James Madison was called back to the Continental Congress, where he joined 56 other state delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Congress determined that it would rectify the Articles of Confederation once and for all.
George Washington presided over the convention. Soon after the convention began, on May 14, 1787, the delegates unanimously elected George Washington to be the convention president.
At the Constitutional Convention on September 17th, 1787, James Madison, known as the Founding Father formatted and wrote what we know as the US Constitution. All fifty-six delegates signed it, giving their unyielding approval.
Ratification of the Constitution
On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the new Constitution. At that time, this was over half of the nation and was enough to officially make the Constitution the law of the land. Not long after that, upon creating the US House of Representatives, James Madison was among its first members.
Madison’s Later Career
Not only was James Madison monumental in the creation of the Constitution, but he also was allowed to compose much of the Bill of Rights. In addition, he became influential in writing a particular essay on the importance of the separation of church and state. Madison served as Vice President to Thomas Jefferson, then United States President, in the year 1808.
Madison as a President
James Madison was the first United States President to officially declare war against Britain with the approval of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, starting the War of 1812. In fighting that war, Madison firmly believed that war emergencies were tests to adhere to the United States Constitution rather than ignore it altogether.
When the War of 1812 ended in February of 1815 with The Treaty of Ghent, it showed the rest of the world that America was a unified nation worthy of respect. As a result, James Madison served two presidential terms as Commander in Chief of America. While his presidential career had both highs and lows, he was ultimately viewed as a good president who served America well and made her stronger.
He achieved everything he had initially set out to accomplish: established a national banking system, a successful taxation system, and an active weaponized military. The vision he had for America, written within the United States Constitution’s pages, was finally coming together beautifully.
End of James Madison’s Life
James Madison retired from Washington DC in 1817 with his beloved wife, Dolley, and lived out his days at the same plantation he grew up at.
He was respected by all and known for his knowledge.
He died peacefully over breakfast in his home on June 28th of the year 1836 from congestive heart failure. He was buried in the family cemetery, where his wife eventually joined him.
Remembering the man who wrote the US Constitution
Perhaps one of James Madison’s most famous quotes was one penned within the Federalist Papers:
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
James Madison was incredibly influential in bringing about a free America, and we owe him our gratitude. But, as a nation, we must never forget where we came from and how hard our Founding Fathers fought to create a free nation.
Constitution Day remembers the incredible achievements of both James Madison and others in creating the US Constitution.
Watch the following video about the writers of the constitution and the founding fathers: