See It Now: Our Fourth President

James Madison. Between 1836-1842. Prints and Photographs Division.

James Madison. Between 1836-1842. Prints and Photographs Division.

On June 28, 1836, President James Madison passed away at age 85 – the last of the nation’s Founding Fathers. His public service had a symmetry to it. He had served in several positions, each for eight years: first as a member of Congress, followed by the same span as Secretary of State, then finally eight years as President of the United States. Even after that, he served eight years as director of the University of Virginia after Thomas Jefferson’s death.

Madison was also a president of firsts – often referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison wrote the first drafts of the important document, as well as the Bill of Rights. In 1792, he and Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party, which has been called America’s first opposition political party.

According to Pulitzer-prize winning historian Jack N. Rakove, Madison was an intensely private man who sought only to be known by his public deeds. In fact, in his retirement after 1817, he edited a good bit of personal material out of his papers to reinforce that message.

Rakove spoke about Madison during a special event at the Library earlier this year, and the webcast is now available here.

Madison’s papers make up part of the Library’s collection of presidential papers. Included are materials documenting his activities as a member of the Continental Congress, his role in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, his tenure as secretary of state during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and his two terms as president. Noted correspondents include George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Noah Webster and James Monroe. Also included in this collection are a copy of Madison’s autobiography and his correspondence with his wife, Dolley.

Scattered throughout the institution’s various collections, online exhibitions and other resources are assets pertaining to Madison, all collected in this guide.

Rare Map on Display at Library Scored Some “Firsts”

(The following is a guest post by Wendi A. Maloney, writer-editor in the U.S. Copyright Office.) Engraver Abel Buell “came out of nowhere,” at least in terms of cartography, when he printed a United States map in 1784. “He’d never done a map before,” says Edward Redmond of the Library’s Geography and Map Division. Nonetheless, […]

A Book Festival for the Bird(er)s

David Allen Sibley – yes, the author of the recently updated “Sibley Guide to Birds,” that indispensable handbook on all things feathered – will appear at this year’s National Book Festival, Saturday, August 30 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In addition to this most highly respected ornithologist, we will also welcome Sally Satel, […]

Library in the News: May 2014 Edition

As May came to an end, so did the second and final term of Natasha Trethewey as U.S. Poet Laureate. She gave her final lecture at the Library of Congress on May 14. “At the Library of Congress on Wednesday night, Trethewey began, as she often does, with her personal history and then moved into […]

Stay Up With a Good Book, Too –

The author lineup for the 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival is growing all the time, building excitement for the free event being held Saturday, August 30 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Yes, that’s right, a 12-hour day in a new venue, with all the features […]

The Library in History: Library Analyst Helped Launch NASA

(The following is a story written by Cory V. Langley, a communications specialist in the Congressional Research Service, that is featured in the May – June 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM, now available for download here. You can also view the archives of the Library’s former publication from 1993 to 2011. Amid fear and anxiety […]

CRS at 100: Informing the Legislative Debate Since 1914

(The following is an article compiled by Cory V. Langley, a communications specialist in the Congressional Research Service, that is featured in the May – June 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM, now available for download here. You can also view the archives of the Library’s former publication from 1993 to 2011. The centennial […]

The Power of One: Roy Wilkins and the Civil Rights Movement

(The following is a story written by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library’s staff newsletter, The Gazette, for the May-June 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine. The Library exhibition, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Long Struggle for Freedom,” opens June 19 in the Thomas Jefferson Building.) Civil Rights activist Roy Wilkins […]

Pics of the Week: Behind the Music

Last week, the Library hosted the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation for its annual “We Write the Songs” concert, featuring the songwriters performing and telling the stories behind their own music. Carly Simon, Randy Newman and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart joined others in performing some of their most popular tunes. “We used […]

Inquiring Minds: The Intrepid Explorer

(From time to time, we’ll feature the story of one of our many researchers here at the Library and the discoveries they made using our collections. The following is the story of Meg Kennedy Shaw, who conducted research on her father, a British desert explorer, botanist and archaeologist.) Meg Kennedy Shaw has made many trips to […]