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About the Papers of
James Madison

The modern edition of The Papers of James Madison documents the life and times of the Virginia statesman we remember today as the “Father of the Constitution” and the fourth president of the United States. The edition is organized into four series: the Congressional Series (1751–1801); the Secretary of State Series (1801–9); the Presidential Series (1809–17); and the Retirement Series (1817–36). Each series corresponds with one of the major phases of Madison’s public and private life between 1751 and 1836.

Because earlier editions of Madison’s papers were incomplete and inaccurate in many important respects, the purpose of the modern Founders Online edition is to provide readers of all descriptions with free and easy access to a complete, comprehensive, and definitive record of all of Madison’s public and private correspondence, his public actions and speeches, and his political writings. By consulting this edition, readers will obtain an important point of entry into the study of many of the most important formative episodes in the history of the early American republic—including the American Revolution of the 1770s, the framing of the Federal Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the 1780s, the rise of political parties in the 1790s, the struggle to vindicate American neutrality in the Age of Napoleon, the War of 1812, and the nation’s transition to the era of Jacksonian Democracy.

For further information on how the edition was compiled, including examples of the methods employed by modern documentary editions as well as a brief summary of Madison’s life and times, readers are referred to the website of The Papers of James Madison.

See a complete list of Madison Papers volumes included in Founders Online, with links to the documents.

The first ten volumes of the Congressional Series of The Papers of James Madison were published by The University of Chicago Press between 1962 and 1977; most are now out of print. Volumes published since 1978 in the letterpress edition are available from The University of Virginia Press.

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