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Madison, James

In 1775, after serving briefly as a private, James Madison was commissioned as colonel and commander of the Orange County Regiment, Virginia Militia. Colonel Madison was responsible for the training and readiness of his regiment. Although frail health precluded active service, Madison gained prominence as a patriot and statesman. In 1776 he was elected to the Virginia Constitution Convention where he helped to frame a constitution and bill of rights. Madison was elected to the Continental Congress in 1780. In 1781, Colonel Madison was appointed county lieutenant of Orange County, Virginia, and was responsible for all militia affairs in the county including supervising the training of the militia. While serving in the Virginia legislature, he led the effort to convene a national constitutional convention which met in the summer of 1787. If not the father of the Constitution, Madison was certainly its prime architect. His Virginia Plan called for a national government with three branches which would be supreme over the states. Madison also played a critical role in convincing the states to ratify the Constitution. After serving as a congressman and Secretary of State, James Madison was inaugurated as the fourth presi dent of the United States in March 1809.