There is no single author of the constitution. The United States Constitution also includes language directly lifted from other sources.
Who wrote the US Constitution?
Most people will say that James Madison was the author of the constitution, but in reality, several different people were contributors.
Who Is the Father of the Constitution?
The most straightforward (but wrong) answer is that James Madison was the author in May 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
James Madison is widely known as the person who wrote the US Constitution and the Father of the Constitution.
James Madison Was Just One Author of the Constitution
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he refused to take credit for writing the United States Constitution, insisting that although he drafted the important historical document, it was a collection of several other ideas and beliefs on democracy.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 from Great Britain.
Early Life of James Madison
Born on March 16, 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, now known as Princeton University.
Upon graduating from college, Madison developed a profound interest in political matters and independence, 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 transitioned to a political career in service of the American Revolution.
He was elected the youngest delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1780.
He worked tirelessly in his call for religious freedom and passed such a statute in his home state Virginia.
Madison Wrote the Virginia Plan
During his time at the Continental Congress, he was highly influential. Madison drafted, wrote, and passed the Virginia Plan, which the nation would utilize in future years to write the text of the original constitution.
The Virginia Plan outlined three distinct branches of a federal government:
- The executive branch of government
- The legislative branch of government
- The judicial branch of government.
He believed a successful government needed these different branches to ensure fairness and checks and balances. The Founding Fathers wrote the constitution to bring that vision about. It also introduced the idea of a House and Senate forming the national government.
Articles of Confederation
The Continental Congress passed the Articles of Confederation in 1777, which served as an unofficial first form of the American Constitution.
Unfortunately, as helpful as the document was, the Articles of Confederation were deemed inadequate. They needed reconstruction if they were to be used for the successful running of the new nation.
James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton composed what became 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.
Writing the United States Constitution
James Madison was called back to the Continental Congress in 1787, where he joined 54 other state delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Congress determined it would revise the Articles of Confederation to deal with its shortcomings.
George Washington presided over the convention. Soon after, on May 14, 1787, the delegates unanimously elected George Washington to be the convention president.
At the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, Founding Father James Madison drafted what we know as the United States Constitution. 39 of the 55 delegates signed it, giving their unyielding approval.
|James Madison||Father of the Constitution|
|Gouverneur Morris||Wrote the final text of the Constitution|
|Alexander Hamilton||Contributor to the Federalist Papers and key supporter of the Constitution|
|Benjamin Franklin||Elder statesman and signer of the Constitution|
|George Washington||Chair of the Constitutional Convention and signer of the Constitution|
|Thomas Jefferson||Not present at the Constitutional Convention, but his ideas influenced the document|
Note: There were 39 individuals who signed the US Constitution, but these are some of the most well-known writers and contributors to the document.
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, 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 was also responsible for much of the Bill of Rights.
In addition, he became influential in writing an essay on the importance of the separation of church and state. Madison served as Secretary of State to Thomas Jefferson, then elected United States President in 1808.
Madison, as President
James Madison was the first United States President to officially declare war against Great Britain with the approval of the House of Representatives and the Senate in 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 demonstrated to 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.
How did Madison rate as a President?
While his presidential career had 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.
He established a national banking system, a successful taxation system, and an active weaponized military.
His vision 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 where he grew up.
He was respected by all and known for his extensive knowledge.
He died peacefully over breakfast in his home on June 28, 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 James Madison, George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris, John Jay, and others in creating the US Constitution.
Constitution Day is on September 17.
Watch the following video about the writers of the constitution and the founding fathers:
Who Wrote the Constitution? Quiz
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Where is Matthew Cooke’s contribution to the Constitution