Library Celebrates Birth Of James Madison And His Contributions
To The University
6, 2001-- Friday,
March 16, marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of
James Madison (1751-1836). While festivities are planned throughout
the nation to honor Madison as the "Father of the Constitution"
and as the fourth U.S. president, the University of Virginia Library
will recognize Madisons great and often overlooked contributions
to the University with a special display.
Madison, Unsung Hero of the University," in Memorial Hall of
Alderman Library throughout March, will exhibit facsimiles of Madisons
letters, documents and even his will demonstrating his dedication
and work for the University. The Web site www.lib.virginia.edu/jamesmadison
provides an online version of the exhibit with additional information.
years of public service and during his "retirement," Madison
joined his longtime friend, Thomas Jefferson, in founding the University
of Virginia. Madison assisted Jefferson in every step of the planning,
says David Mattern, senior associate editor of the Papers of James
Madison project, based in the U.Va. Library.
Jeffersons death in 1826, only a 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.
greatly supported the University Library by donating money and books
from his private collection. His 1836 bequest of $1,500 (the equivalent
of more than $24,000 today) established the librarys first
endowment, which still provides annual funds to buy more books.
his will, Madison left his own extensive library to the University,
but only a fraction of his volumes ever made it. Mattern said it
is believed that Dolley Madisons son from her first marriage,
John Payne Todd, who was designated to care for Montpelier, the
Madison home, sold much of the collection to pay gambling debts
and liquor bills. After taking legal action, the University acquired
587 pamphlets from an estimated 4,000 volumes once belonging to
Madison was a champion of education," Mattern said. "His
contributions during the Universitys early years helped make
it the premier institution it is today."
the display in Memorial Hall of Alderman Library or the Web site
to learn more about Madisons contributions to U.Va.
Melissa Norris, (804) 924-4254