Today is the birthday of our greatest Framer and the genius behind our Constitution: James Madison. He would have been 272 years old. We will be celebrating tonight with a traditional Virginia dinner (with the required Virginia ham), a three-layer cake, and Madison’s favorite dessert of ice cream (I recommend the tripartite Neapolitan).
James Madison, Jr. was born on March 16, 1751 at the Belle Gove Plantation in the colony of Virginia to James Madison Sr. and Nelly Conway Madison.
Despite being only 5’4” and barely above 100 pounds, Madison proved to be an intellectual giant who shaped constitutional theory for generations.
As a Madisonian scholar, today is a day of great celebration for the man who is most responsible for our constitutional system, not to mention the Bill of Rights and our 4th President. He was a brilliant writer whose contributions to The Federalist Papers still remain required reading for lawyers and laypersons alike, particularly Federalist No. 10 (on factions) and Federalist 51 (on the separation of powers).
This year, our table will be graced by the presence of my life-sized James Madison in addition to my plethora of Madison busts. As I have constantly reminded my concerned wife, one can never have enough Madison busts.
He died of congestive heart failure at Montpelier on the morning of June 28, 1836. He was 85 — an advanced age for the time. My favorite story from his death came from his niece who asked him, “What is the matter, Uncle James?” Madison simply responded “Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear.” He then promptly passed.
So enjoy the day and celebrate in true Madisonian fashion. There is no need to be moderate. Madison understood our failings and inclinations. After all, “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.” Just keep your friends checked and balanced.
While I expect Dolley would not be thrilled, here is a sultry send off for James Madison at 272 years young today:
Happy Birthday, Jimmy.