of James Madison (1817, painted by Joseph Wood.) Courtesy
of the Virginia Historical Society
honors Madison's contributions to U.Va.
many years of political service to his country and during his
so-called retirement, James Madison joined his longtime friend,
Thomas Jefferson, in founding the University of Virginia. On March
16, the 250th anniversary of Madison's birth, the University
Library will join festivities throughout the country to celebrate
Madison as the "Father of the Constitution" and as the
nation's fourth president. The library will note Madison's great
and often overlooked contributions to the University.
Madison, Unsung Hero of the University," displayed in Alderman
Library's Memorial Hall throughout March, will exhibit facsimiles
of Madison's letters, documents, and even his will
all of which demonstrate his dedication to, and work for, the
of University from Goodacre's 1831. Courtesy of Special
Collections, U.Va. Library
assisted Jefferson in every step of the planning, points out David
Mattern, senior associate editor of the Papers of James Madison,
based in the library. He went with Jefferson to meetings about
the site of the University
at that point, it was called Central College
and helped him choose the faculty and the books for the library.
his death, Jefferson wrote to Madison, "
it will be
a comfort to leave that institution under your care." One
year after the University opened, Madison was elected its second
rector. He led the University for eight tumultuous years of early
growth, which included financial difficulties, the departures
of several of the first faculty and episodes of student unruliness.
of Special Collections, U.Va. Library
among others, was present at the first meeting of the Board
of Visitors on May 5, 1817, as his signature on the minutes
shows. In August 1818, Madison rode with Jefferson to Rockfish
Gap for the meeting of the State Commission to select a site
for "Central College."
University Library benefited greatly from Madison. In response
to its poor funding, Madison gave both money and volumes from
his own collection. His 1836 bequest of $1,500 (the equivalent
of more than $24,000 today) established the library's first endowment,
which still provides funds annually for the purchase of books.
his will, Madison left his extensive library to the University.
However, only a fraction of his volumes ever made it here. It
is believed that Dolley Madison's son from her first marriage,
John Payne Todd
whom the care of the Madison home, Montpelier, was left
sold much of the collection to pay off gambling debts and liquor
bills. After taking legal action, the University acquired 587
pamphlets from an estimated 4,000 volumes once belonging to Madison.
Madison was a champion of education," Mattern said. "His
contributions to the University during its beginning helped to
make it the premier institution it is today."
the Web site, www.lib.virginia.edu/jamesmadison,
for an online version of the exhibit and more information.