The Papers of James Madison



The Papers of James Madison project, housed at the University of Virginia, was established in 1956 to publish annotated volumes of the correspondence and writings of James Madison, the Virginia statesman most often remembered for his public service as "Father of the Constitution" and as fourth president of the United States.

This nonprofit project is currently supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (an independent federal agency) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, as well as funds from private charitable organizations and contributions from individuals.

Private donations—increasingly crucial to the project in the face of federal funding cuts—are tax deductible. Checks should be made out to the University of Virginia and sent to: The Papers of James Madison, Alderman Library, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400118, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4118.

Inquiries may be made via:
Telephone (434) 924-3987
Fax (434) 243-6895 or
E-mail (when e-mailing, please include a "Subject" line).

The published volumes provide accurate texts of Madison's incoming and outgoing correspondence, informative notes on textual and subject matters, and comprehensive indexes. They are incomparably rich sources for students of Madison's life and valuable research tools for those interested in the general history of the period in which Madison lived (1751-1836).

To date, the project has collected nearly 29,000 copies of documents related to Madison's life, including letters, essays, notes, diaries, account books, ledgers, wills, legal papers, and inventories. The project serves the public by translating into print these decaying and often nearly illegible manuscripts, thereby preserving them for future generations and making them easier to use. The published volumes also make the contents of Madison-related documents—the originals of which are housed in some 250 archives worldwide—easily accessible to libraries and interested individuals anywhere books travel.

The papers are arranged in four series. The completed Congressional Series (seventeen volumes) is devoted to the years 1751 to 1801, containing the fullest possible record of Madison's contributions to the creation of the federal government, including his service in the Continental Congress, the Virginia General Assembly, the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788, and the first four Federal Congresses.

The Secretary of State Series (nine volumes published to date, of a projected sixteen) documents Madison's diplomatic and political career in the two administrations of Thomas Jefferson, 1801-9, during which he oversaw the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase and the integration of those territories into the United States and attempted to maintain a viable neutrality for the United States vis-à-vis warring France and Great Britain. As secretary of state, Madison presided over one of the busiest offices in Washington. He was responsible for the Patent Office, issued all federal commissions, saw that the public laws were put into print, and served as the official liaison between the president and the governors of states and territories. Most important for these volumes, Madison was the addressee of diplomatic pouches and letters from five ministers and over fifty consuls worldwide, as well as about a dozen commissioners.

The Presidential Series, covering the years 1809 to early 1817 (seven volumes published to date, of a projected twelve), centers largely on Madison's record as commander-in-chief during the War of 1812, the first full-scale conflict to be waged under the U.S. Constitution of 1787. Madison's correspondence as president deals with a particularly wide range of concerns—national politics, international diplomacy and war, Indian affairs, the development of the nation's capital, even petitions from ordinary citizens for charity and mercy—to which Madison responded.

The Retirement Series, encompassing Madison's retirement years 1817 through 1836 (one volume published to date, of a projected seven), contains correspondence and other papers constituting a rich and informative commentary on the past history and the future prospects of the nation that Madison did so much to help create and preserve throughout his lifetime.

The first ten volumes of the Congressional Series were published by the University of Chicago Press between 1962 and 1977. Since 1977 the volumes have been produced by the University of Virginia Press.


If you would like to order copies of volumes currently available from the University of Virginia Press, see the ordering information on their website.

To order copies of volumes published by the University of Chicago Press, search "Papers of James Madison" on their web site.


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