James Madison

Becoming a Leader

Largely because of Madison's efforts, Henry's bill died quietly in the fall session of the assembly. Madison followed up this victory by securing the passage of the Statute for Religious Freedom, which his good friend Thomas Jefferson had drafted before leaving for a diplomatic mission in Paris. Less successful were Madison's efforts against slavery, his efforts to establish a public school system in Virginia, and his efforts to reform the constitution of the state.

Madison served in the Virginia House of Delegates through the 1786 session, when he was called once again to represent Virginia in the Continental Congress, which was then meeting in New York. The delegates were engaged in debates over American commerce and constitutional questions, and they voted to call together a Constitutional Convention which would meet in Philadelphia in the spring of 1787. Once and for all, a genuine settlement of the problems surrounding the Articles of Confederation would be attempted. Madison was one of the delegates voted to represent Virginia at this important convention, along with George Mason and the great George Washington.