Colleagues and Friends

James & Dolley Madison

As a Founding Father, James Madison maintained ties with many prominent figures of the Revolutionary and early National periods. General Lafayette was a traveling companion. Thomas Jefferson was a close friend and political collaborator for fifty years. George Washington was an esteemed colleague whose personal friendship with Madison was eventually strained by politics. Edward Coles was Madison’s secretary, his cousin by marriage, and a great admirer of Madison’s political ideals. James Monroe and Albert Gallatin were both trusted members of Madison’s cabinet, as well as family friends and frequent correspondents. 

Many of Madison’s closest relationships spanned long distances. Except for the years when he met daily with fellow politicians in state and national capitals, his friendships played out through regular exchanges of letters and only occasional visits. The correspondence between Madison and his circle is a window into their shared ideals for the new republic, their differences over slavery and other contemporary political and cultural issues, and their personal camaraderie.


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Political Colleagues Visit Montpelier

James and Dolley Madison entertained hundreds of friends, family members, and political colleagues at Montpelier. Thomas Jefferson made frequent visits to Montpelier; and Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson visited (separately) in July 1832.