Father of the Constitution: A Story About James Madison by Barbara Mitchell, Alex Tavoularis

By Barbara Mitchell, Alex Tavoularis

Introduces the lifetime of President James Madison, targeting his life-long curiosity in books and research, in addition to his position as "Father of the structure" and historian of the Constitutional conference.

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Four thousand British soldiers, called redcoats, were aboard. Washington was the nation’s capital. Those four thousand redcoats were entirely too close. President Madison used his constitutional power to protect the nation and ordered up the Maryland and Virginia 51 militias (groups of citizens trained to f ight during emergencies). He wanted America’s official documents moved to safety. Did Dolley have the courage to remain at the presidential mansion for a couple of days and see to the packing of the nation’s papers?

Proud new merchant ships laden with silks and China teas f illed the harbor. The ships were American: the George Washington, the Empress of China, the Canton. George Washington, president of the United States of America, sat in Independence Hall. Philadelphia was the nation’s new capital. James Madison was serving in the new Congress. One of his f irst pieces of business was to present a Bill of Rights, a written guarantee of individual rights for Americans, to be added to the Constitution. When Congressman Madison walked the cobblestone 48 streets, Philadelphians took notice.

Madison had arrived on May 3, purposefully early. He had work to do. Franklin had a brand new dining room with a long mahogany table that could seat twenty-four. On May 16, twenty delegates dined at Dr. Franklin’s new table. Talks of nation building f illed the room. Madison’s job was to get his own Virginia delegation to suppor t the ideas in his essay. Delegates were sure to pay attention to what the largest state had to say. The Virginians met every day, refining their plan. On the opening day of the convention, Benjamin Franklin arrived at the State House in his Chinese sedan chair, carried by four husk y inmates from the Walnut Street Prison.

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