Madison and Union

Rosalia Pembroke

Madison’s main campaign goals for the 1812 election focused on discrediting DeWitt Clinton as a divisive force within the party (and the nation at large) minimizing the damage of the freshly declared War of 1812 and consolidating support within the remainder of his party. Madison’s second campaign relied on some of the same tactics as his first; he emphasized his connection to Jefferson and his position as Jefferson’s political heir and rightful successor.  The Federalist decision to support Clinton meant that Madison had to win a decisive majority of the remaining Democratic Republican votes.  His campaign song “Huzzah for Madison, Huzzah”,   mentions unity in the chorus, and references “foes of freedom” and their desire to divide the union. The War of 1812 and the failure of the Embargo acts complicated Madison’s position. I chose to confront the war with Britain in this video because it was one of the most contentious and important issues of the time. I felt ignoring it would not accurately reflect the spirit of the age. After I found Madison’s campaign song, I decided to use its lyrics to guide the narrative for the ad.,/is/,/57605/,/false/,/false&newprofile=CAP&newstyle=single I used an image of Madison as president, painted during his first term. I used the title Madison and Union just to emphasize what his campaign song did; Madison uniting the country against DeWitt Clinton’s factionalism.

Wood mentioned that during 1812, even though the foray into Canada was a total disaster, the United States somehow held its own against the British Navy. Wood suggests that “In 1812 America’s naval successes may even have helped Madison win a second term as president.”[1] The War of 1812 was an important issue in this campaign, and I figured any pro-Madison piece would do better to focus on the naval side of the conflict. I found the quote about Madison steering “the political compass through the boisterous ocean” and thought it went well with the naval warfare vibe.

This picture actually shows a French frigate defeating a British ship during the Revolutionary war. I wanted to use a picture of the U.S.S. Constitution, but I couldn’t find one from before 1812. The Smithsonian Institution’s website listed some watercolors of the ship from 1810-1812, but they were not available online.  I chose an image from a revolutionary war battle because I could at least time it to the phrase in Madison’s campaign song about patriots. : Image of DeWitt Clinton , Quote from David Jones

I wanted to link Clinton to the Tories mentioned in the campaign song and imply that he was dividing the party and the nation, while Madison was trying to unite it. I chose a quote that just condemned Clinton as a generally horrible person. May party spirit be enveloped in patriotism

I just wanted to continue the idea of Madison uniting the nation in a non-partisan way. This is taken from a transcript of a public celebration of Independence.,/is/,/48606/,/false/,/false&newprofile=CAP&newstyle=single image: Madison in profile

I just timed this too the cheering and mention of his name in the campaign song. image: “In defense on their country” This is from the same transcript of a celebration. It refers to the citizen volunteers and the war of 1812. I wanted to emphasize the accepted reasoning for the war, which leads into the next slide. : “In defense of just rights” Same source, this continues defending the war of 1812. This toast was made at a military gathering in July of 1812. I wanted to emphasize the unifying aspect of his campaign. Hence the Ken Burns effect on every American. : “The only one that is capable”  I wanted to emphasize Madison’s experience and position as Jefferson’s heir.

This image depicts Madison with the previous presidents. Madison’s first campaign relied heavily on his association with Jefferson, and his second campaign continued this trend. It might not have been made with the intent of helping Madison in the election, but I think it reflects his campaign’s desire to link him to Jefferson.

Works Used


Brand, Oscar, Presidential Campaign Songs, 1789-1996, SFW CD 45051 Smithsonian Folkways, 1999, compact disk


Jones, David The Papers of James Madison Digital Edition, J. C. A. Stagg, editor. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2010.,  (David Jones Quote cited in the slide with a picture of DeWitt Clinton)


Wood, Gordon S, Empire of Liberty, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009 Alexandria Gazette, 8-3-1812 (Madison, most capable newspaper quote)   Carlisle Gazette, 7-10-1812 Shamrock, or Hiberian Chronicle, 7-18-1812


This picture of a young DeWitt Clinton is attributed to the New York Public Library, which has a small collection of Clinton’s writings. I couldn’t find a digitized version of the image on the New York Public Library’s site, which is why this links to (Please scroll down, it’s the first image on the left hand side of the page.)


[1] Wood, Gordon S, Empire of Liberty, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009, 682