Role of Virginians in the Founding of the New Nation

Lesson 3: Madison's Role

Time Estimated: 1 days



  1. Review and identify primary sources.
  2. Analyze excerpts from primary and secondary sources to draw conclusions about Madison character and abilities.
  3. Create a poster displaying information learned about Madison.




  • Questions for discuss in reference to the writing of the Constitution (included below in strategies, #3)
  • Excerpts from a letter written by Madison [
    constitution/overview/story.htm], a letter written by William Pierce, and an excerpt from an Autobiography by Thomas Jefferson [
  • Computer and websites to be projected on a Smart Board.
  • 12”x18” construction paper, crayons, colored pencils, markers.




  1. Hook: Do you remember what primary source we used yesterday? Confirm that the picture of the painting and the Preamble were the primary sources. Discuss whom we are learning about and why, reinforcing that Madison is called the Father of the Constitution.
  2. Tell students that today they will be using some other primary source documents to discover why Madison earned his title. Have students tell other types of primary sources. Confirm or correct responses that could include, letters, journals, documents, newspaper articles, paintings or pictures.
  3. Ask the following questions to stimulate thinking.
    • Would writing a constitution be an easy process? Why? Lead students to conclude that this would have been an extremely long, difficult process.
    • What type of men would have been needed to accomplish the task?
  4. Use the textbook so students have a brief overview of the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia. Be sure to include that Madison kept detailed notes after reading and discussing. Tell students they will be looking at three primary sources to draw conclusions about Madison’s role at the Constitutional Convention.
  5. Hand out the primary source, an excerpt from a letter from Madison to Thomas J. Wharton concerning the need to call for a Constitutional Convention. The letter is located at this following website.

    Students will interpret the letter. Help students conclude that Madison saw a strong need for the United States Constitution. View the following website, and read the excerpts embedded on the page from Georgia delegate William Pierce and the excerpt on Madison’s role in the constitutional process and his character from an autobiography by Thomas Jefferson.

    Students will draw conclusion about his character and abilities. Guide them to understand he was an even-tempered, intelligent man who was able to get the delegates to compromise throughout the process of writing the constitution.
  6. Wrap-up: Have cooperative groups create a poster titled “Father of the Constitution.”




Students will work cooperatively and in the whole group which will accommodate various ability levels. The teacher or volunteers will do the reading and students will discuss ideas in pairs or groups before being asked to respond in whole group. A visual representation of the information will be constructed accommodating visual learners.