Strategy A look at the daily routine of James Madison, who owned 4,000 books, was too embarrassed to be seen without a hat, and drank up to a pint of whiskey a day

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A look inside the daily routine and habits of Founding Father and US President James Madison.

His wife's favorite ice cream flavor was "oyster." James Madison is pictured. play

His wife's favorite ice cream flavor was "oyster." James Madison is pictured.

(Wikimedia Commons)
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James Madison accomplished a lot.

During his long political career, he served as a member of the Continental Congress, US representative, and Secretary of State in the administration of his close friend Thomas Jefferson.

He was also elected president in 1808. Madison's legacy as commander in chief was decidedly mixed — the British swooped in and burned the capital during his tenure.

Primarily, he is remembered at the "Father of the Constitution," thanks to his crucial contributions to the supreme law of the US.

Here's a look at the Founding Father's daily routine:

Madison would rise early. When he wasn't traveling or living in DC, his primary residence was Montpelier, a plantation house in Orange, Virginia. Paul Jennings, Madison's enslaved valet, would help him dress every morning.

James Madison's Montpelier plantation. play

James Madison's Montpelier plantation.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: "James Madison: A Biography"



At the age of 15, Jennings helped save Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of George Washington before the British burned the White House. Later in life, Jennings was purchased and freed by Daniel Webster. He also published an autobiography detailing his experiences as a slave.

Paul Jennings. play

Paul Jennings.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: "A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison"



Madison enslaved over 100 men, women, and children during his lifetime. Upon his death, he did not emancipate his slaves in his will.

Reconstructed slave quarters at Montpelier. play

Reconstructed slave quarters at Montpelier.

(Mike/Flickr)

Source: Montpelier, Hauenstein Center



Breakfast would commence around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. at Montpelier — although Madison would eat as early as 7 a.m. in DC. The Madisons frequently entertained visitors. According to one, writer and US Navy Secretary James Kirke Paulding, the family ate breakfast out on Montpelier's portico.

View from Montpelier. play

View from Montpelier.

(Áine Cain/Business Insider)

Source: "James Madison: A Biography," "James Madison: A Life Reconsidered," "James Madison: The Founding Father"



Afterwards, Madison would ride around the plantation on his "pampered horse Liberty," according to Ralph Louis Ketcham's biography.

The grounds at James Madison's Montpelier. play

The grounds at James Madison's Montpelier.

(Áine Cain/Business Insider)

Source: "James Madison: A Biography"



On rainy days, he would forego the ride and exercise by racing his wife Dolley across the porch.

View from Montpelier. play

View from Montpelier.

(Áine Cain/Business Insider)

Source: "James Madison: A Biography"



Madison met his wife through another Founding Father. While a student at Princeton University — then called the College of New Jersey — Madison had befriended Aaron Burr, who later became US Vice President and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr introduced the couple in 1794. They were married within a few months.

Dolley Madison. play

Dolley Madison.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: "James Madison: A Biography," "James Madison: A Life Reconsidered," "James Madison: The Founding Father"



In contrast to his famously sociable wife, Madison was quite reserved. As a young man, he once lost his only hat while traveling. Unwilling to be seen without a hat, Madison hid indoors for two days, according to former Second Lady Lynne Cheney's biography.

A portrait of James Madison. play

A portrait of James Madison.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: "James Madison: A Life Reconsidered"



Throughout his life, Madison kept up an intensive correspondence. Today, the Library of Congress holds a collection of 12,000 of his papers.

James Madison's Montpelier. play

James Madison's Montpelier.

(Áine Cain/Business Insider)

Source: Library of Congress



Madison was always a voracious reader. "He went on to collect some 4,000 books, along with stacks of pamphlets," reports the Daily Beast.

A portrait of James Madison. play

A portrait of James Madison.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: The Daily Beast



He also quite enjoyed a glass of whiskey, drinking a pint a day, according to TIME. In those days, that was considered quite moderate.

Madison liked whiskey. play

Madison liked whiskey.

(Anders Sandberg/Flickr)

Source: TIME



It's unclear if Madison himself had a favorite food. Food Timeline, a food history website, explains that, while the Founding Father's culinary preferences are not necessarily clear, most of the couple's feasts would feature a mix of "Virginian fare and French cuisine."

James Madison at the age of 82. play

James Madison at the age of 82.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: "James Madison: A Biography," "James Madison: A Life Reconsidered,"



While in the White House, James and Dolley Madison would also serve guests ice cream. Popular flavors in those days included parmesan, asparagus, and chestnut. Dolley preferred oyster ice cream.

The ice cream the Madisons served probably didn't look like this. play

The ice cream the Madisons served probably didn't look like this.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: White House History, PBS



The Madisons were quite popular in DC and Virginian society, hosting numerous parties. During their stint in the capital, Dolley would travel all around the city, leaving invitations for friends and political allies. Attendance at some of those shindigs shot up to 500, prompting them to be nicknamed "squeezes," according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Dolley Madison. play

Dolley Madison.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: Smithsonian Magazine



Despite this festive lifestyle, Madison would usually close out the day with tea at 7 p.m., and be in bed by 10 p.m..

Statue of James and Dolley Madison at Montpelier. play

Statue of James and Dolley Madison at Montpelier.

(Áine Cain/Business Insider)

Source: "James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation"