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James Madison

Virginia Plan

James Madison (1751–1836) was the principal author of the Constitution and a key figure in the fashioning of the Bill of Rights. He also grasped the importance of religious liberty and did much to champion the views of his good friend Thomas Jefferson. Madison's greatest achievements flowed from his incomparable understanding of government, as evidenced in his ingenious contributions to the Federalist Papers.

Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments

This legislation prevented the taxation for for religious ministers in the State of Virginia. Madison justified his opposition through an appeal to those duties that are owed to God prior to government.

Federalist Nos. 10, 14, and 37

In his most famous paper, Madison explores factions in politics (#10). Our government is a republic, not a democracy (#14). The success of the constitutional deliberations are evidence of God's guidance (#37).

Federalist Nos. 39, 45, and 47

The people of the states are the source of all federal power (#39). The powers of the federal government are few and defined (#45). Its three major branches are a mix of independence and interdependence (#47).

Federalist Nos. 48, 49, and 51

The legislative branch, as the most powerful, must be carefully limited (#48). Appeals to constitutional conventions should be infrequent (#49). Balance is necessary among the three branches of government (#51).