The War of 1812
James Madison (1751-1836) was the principal architect of the United States Constitution, the Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson, and the fourth president of the United States. During the Revolution, he helped draft Virginia's state constitution and served in the Continental Congress. In the years immediately following the war, he grew convinced of the domestic and international disasters that would follow unless the national government was reformed, and therefore joined those calling for a constitutional convention. He teamed with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to publish the Federalist Papers. After the Constitution's ratification, he served in the United States Congress from 1789 to 1797.
As a United States congressman and then as Jefferson's Secretary of State, he argued that British commercial and maritime policies should be countered with retaliatory tariffs and trade restrictions. He urged Jefferson to adopt a complete embargo against international trade in 1807.
As president, Madison continued to support aggressive trade measures against Britain and requested a declaration of war against Great Britain in 1812 when commercial pressure failed to achieve a change in British policy.
During the War of 1812, Madison faced almost treasonous opposition from merchants and public officials in New England. But he refused to limit civil liberties or declare martial law, as he was urged to do by supporters.