GHENT, WV (WVNS)– Here are five interesting facts that you might not have known about the fourth president of the US: James Madison.
#1 He was our smallest president:
Madison was petite in stature, coming in at only 5 feet 4 inches and just barely over 100 pounds. He was also known for having a very weak voice and people usually struggled with hearing him during his speeches. He mostly remained sick throughout his life and was described as “a constitutional liability to sudden attacks, somewhat resembling epilepsy” when discussing is bouts of “bilious fever.”
#2 He was Princeton University’s first graduate student:
At the age of 18, Madison left his family’s plantation to attend what was then called the College of New Jersey in 1769. He flew through a four degree in just two years, causing him to get only four hours of sleep most nights. After he completed his course, he remained in Princeton for another year and studied Hebrew and other subjects. Though at the time Madison was not granted an advanced degree, Princeton University currently considers him the university’s first graduate student.
#3 He was originally against the Bill of Rights:
Though he drafted the Bill of Rights, Madison thought the amendments were unnecessary and potentially harmful. Similar to other Federalists, he thought the Constitution’s power separations already protected personal freedoms and believed that the rights could easily infringed upon. He changed his mind after gained the belief that the lack of a bill of Rights would cause a problem with winning over his opponents in ratifying the Constitution. He would also later like the idea more when thinking that the bill could prevent the government from overstepping its boundaries.
#4 His wife helped define the role of the first lady:
Unlike Madison, his wife Dolley was a social butterfly that was known for her exuberance, warmth and wit. She embraced the role of first lady and defined duties like redecorating the White House and hosting the first Inaugural Ball. She also started the tradition of first ladies embracing a public outreach project by being the “directress” of an orphanage.
#5 He refused to die on July 4th:
After his presidency, Madison returned to his Montpelier plantation where he spent his days farming, and would later serve as second rector for the University of Virginia. As an 85-year-old Madison was on his deathbed in the summer of 1863, and his doctor suggested that he should take stimulants to keep him alive until July 4, the same calendar day that Jefferson, Adams, and Monroe all died. He refused this offer and died on June 28.
If you would like to check out the source material and perhaps learn more facts about Madison, visit 10 Things You May Not Know About James Madison | HISTORY.