Frame: 91.8 x 79.7 x 5.9cm (36 1/8 x 31 3/8 x 2 5/16")
Stretcher: 74.9 x 62.4cm (29 1/2 x 24 9/16")
Owner: Colonial Williamsburg
James Madison, one of the nation’s most astute political thinkers, was the architect of the American Constitution and drafted the first ten constitutional amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. He later opposed the Washington administration, believing it favored too powerful a national government, and with Thomas Jefferson launched the Democratic-Republican Party (AntiFederalists). As secretary of state during Jefferson’s two terms, Madison and the president initiated a policy of economic warfare—denying Britain and France raw materials and food—to counter their interference with U.S. commerce. By avoiding actual conflict, they believed that the United States could protect its rights while still maintaining a pure republican government with low taxes, citizen militias, and little debt. However, their economic warfare failed to alter the policies of Great Britain and France, and by the time Madison became the nation’s fourth president, America was already inching toward war.