He was 5-feet-4, weighed 100 pounds, had a quiet voice that was often hard to hear, and was so shy he dreaded having to talk to a group larger than a few people. Yet he was a towering figure in American history.
His name was James Madison, and every year on Dec. 15, the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, he should be remembered by a grateful nation for his extraordinary accomplishments in helping to create the country we know today. Mostly on his own, Madison wrote and pushed through Congress what became the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. If not for his efforts in the face of almost impossible odds, we would not have had a Bill of Rights then or perhaps ever.
Madison’s accomplishments are many, including serving as secretary of state and president, when he led the nation through the potentially disastrous War of 1812. He helped organize the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and write a document that created a government that has endured for more than two centuries…
Madison quickly learned how much opposition there was among members of the First Congress to adding amendments. Many believed more important business must be considered first, and they argued the new government had limited powers and thus could not threaten individual rights. It took all of Madison’s legislative skills to persuade two-thirds of the members of each house to forward the Bill of Rights to the states. Congress approved 12 amendments, 10 of which became part of the Constitution on Dec. 15, 1791.
On this year’s anniversary of the ratification of those amendments, the nation should pause to remember the Virginia statesman who would have looked so small next to Washington and Jefferson, both more than 6 feet tall, but whose accomplishments are second to none.
Truly, a great American.