Am I A Descendant of President James Madison?

 

President James Madison. image from Yahoo News

President James Madison.
image from Yahoo News

President James Madison did not have children with his wife, Dolley. This widely accepted fact has led scholars to believe that this great historical figure was either impotent, infertile, or both. The oral history of my family says that the scholars are wrong.

Madison loved his fledgling country and embraced its ideals. He was gifted with prodigious intellect and, as one of the Founding Fathers, brought that love and those ideals together to help build a nation he dreamed would become the envy of the world. In spite of his dedication to his country and in spite of the power of his mind, he unwittingly sabotaged America’s image both abroad and within his beloved homeland, in his time and in ours. In 1787, at the Constitutional Convention, Madison and the other southern delegates worked hard to include in the Constitution provisions that supported the “peculiar institution” of slavery.

One decade after the convention, Madison again sabotaged his ideals, this time in his personal life. He participated in a monstrous “institution,” the carnal use of enslaved women. A Founding Father of our nation, James Madison, Jr., was also a Founding Father of my African-American family.

 

My earliest recollection of hearing the name James Madison was as a five-year-old, trying to stand still while my mother made dresses for me. It was excruciating. The closer the dress came to its final shape, the closer I came to driving my mother to her wits’ end. She thought her balm of telling family stories would stop my whining and squirming, but when that failed, Mom would throw up her hands and say, “Please, Bettye, always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a President.” This admonition guided my family through slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. It now guides us through the challenges of being an African American today.

Four Generations of African-American Madisons. Photo by Dr. Clay M. Wilson. 2014

Four Generations of African-American Madisons. Photo by Dr. Clay M. Wilson. 2014

Posted in James Madison, Slavery and The Constitution.

4 Comments

  1. My Great Great Grandmother was owned by Edmund Haynes Taylor, Pres. Zachary Taylor’s Cousin. Zachary Taylor and Pres. James Madison were 2nd Cousins. My DNA results at Ancestry indicates that I’m a match with several white descendants of both the Taylors and Madisons. The names Ambrose Madison, Richard Taylor and Hancock Taylor consistently pop up. Under different circumstances I would rejoice in sharing the DNA of two Presidents. Yet, considering how those DNA matches came about only saddens me. I can’t begin to imagine the struggles my Great Great Grandmother endured. Not only am I a DNA match to white Kentucky slaveholders who share her surname (Triplett), but while tracing that particular family, I discovered their connection to the Taylors, Madisons and Gaines families of Virginia and Kentucky.

  2. My name is Jamie Miears I did my ancestry DNA and found out that James Madison is one of my great great great great great grandfather’s and I’m super excited to know this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.