March 16, 2001 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of James Madison (1751 - 1836). During this anniversary year, many will be celebrating Madison as the "Father of the Constitution" and the nation's fourth president. At the University of Virginia there are additional reasons to remember this Founding Father with gratitude, for he is truly an unsung hero of the University. Overshadowed by the tremendous contributions made by Thomas Jefferson to establish the University, Madison's role is often overlooked, although he worked closely with Jefferson to realize his vision for an institution of higher education to prepare students for their responsibilities as citizens of the new Republic. After Jefferson's death in 1826, just over a year after the University opened its doors to students, Madison was elected the University's second Rector and guided the University through its fledgling period of development, a period marked by financial difficulties, the departure of several of its first faculty, and episodes of disruptive student unruliness.
Additional sources of information about James Madison:
The Papers of James Madison