The James Madison Papers

About This Collection

James Madison is one of 23 presidents whose papers are held in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. The Madison Papers are organized into seven series, all of which except the last have been indexed and microfilmed. This online collection comprises all 28 reels of the 6 microfilmed series. The online collection is arranged chronologically.

Included are Series 1 and 2, General and Additional Correspondence, dating from 1723 to 1859 and consisting of letters received and some drafts of letters sent, with related documents. Correspondents include several men who served as presidents of the United States—George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and William Henry Harrison—and notable contemporaries such as James Maury, the marquis de La Fayette, George Mason, John C. Calhoun, Noah Webster, William Eustis, Albert Gallatin, Elbridge Gerry, Alexander Hamilton, George Joy, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Robert Livingston, William Pinkney, Edmund Randolph, Benjamin Rush, and First Lady Dolley Payne Madison.

Series 3 consists primarily of Madison's 1813-36 letters to his Secretary of War, John Armstrong; while Series 4 includes Madison's autobiography, a copy of his will, and legal documents relating to the Madison estate. Series 5 contains James Madison's original Notes on Debates in the Confederation Congress, 1782-1783, and the Federal Convention of 1787; Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Debates in the Continental Congress of 1776; and John C. Payne's copies of these documents.

Finally, there is a series of miscellaneous manuscripts, including the treatise "A Brief System of Logick" that Madison prepared while a student at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), a Madison family tree, and extensive notes on the Articles of Confederation, exports and navigation, natural history, and the developing federal government.


Notes About the Transcriptions

The online collection of the James Madison Papers consists of digitally scanned images of microfilmed copies of handwritten documents. Legibility of both the original documents and the microfilm copies varies substantially depending on many factors: the inks and papers used, the age of the documents, contrast variations within the microfilm, and handwriting variations.

Some document images link to fully searchable text transcriptions. The transcriptions were taken from The Writings of James Madison, edited by Gaillard Hunt (New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons, 1900-10) and are available only for items by James Madison himself. Readers should note that the transcription of some of these letters is incomplete and that the uncertain legibility of certain words and phrases was resolved by reasonable editorial guesswork.