James Madison

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Watercolor on ivory. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Madison at age 32.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas; framed: 36 1/8 × 31 3/4 × 3 5/8 in. (91.8 × 80.6 × 9.2 cm). Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas; 29.5 in. x 24.63 in. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Colonial Williamsburg, VA.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas; height: height: 123.19 cm (48.5 in), width: 100.97 cm (39.75 in). Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on wood; 65.3 x 54.3 cm (25 11/16 x 21 3/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

by John Vanderlyn (1775—1852)

Oil on canvas. The White House Collection, Washington, DC.

by Chester Harding (1792—1866)

Oil on canvas. On display at Montpelier, Orange, VA; courtesy of Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA.

by Asher Brown Durand (1796—1886)

Oil on canvas; 24 1/4 x 20 1/4 in. ( 61.6 x 51.4 cm). New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by Anna Maria Brodeau Thornton (c. 1775—1865)

Watercolor on wove paper. The Montpelier Foundation, Orange, VA.

In 1789 the South and especially Virginia had been the impelling force in creating the nation. By 1815 the South and slaveholders still seemed to be in control of the national government. President Madison was a slaveholder. So too were Speaker of the House, Henry Clay, James Monroe, the secretary of state, and George W. Campbell, the secretary of the treasury. All Republican leaders of the House were slaveholders. In 1815 the United States had four missions in Europe: two of them were held by slaveholders. The chief justice of the United States was a slaveholder, as were a majority of the other members of the Court. Since 1789 three of the four presidents, two of the five vice-presidents, fourteen of the twenty-six presidents pro tempore the Senate, and five of the ten Speakers of the House had been slaveholders.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)