James Madison drafted the U.S. Constitution, helped write the Federalist Papers and strongly supported the Bill of Rights. He was a strong influence in the founding of America. His passion for freedom and love for his country was no secret. Madison served in several capacities before he was elected president in 1808 with close to 70 percent of the electoral votes. Once elected president, he served two terms. Madison was also the first president to ask Congress for permission to declare war. You see, even though the United States was an independent country, there was still tension between America and Great Britain. The disagreement was mostly about trade. British ships were attacking American trade vessels and forcing the crews from those ships to serve in Britain’s Royal Navy in a war it was having with France. Close to 10,000 American sailors were forced into the British Navy. In protest, America declared War on Britain in June of 1812. During the war, America and Britain fought at sea, attacking each other’s ships. They fought on the U.S.-Canadian front in both land and sea battles. They fought in the Southern states, too. While this was going on, the British were still fighting a separate war with the French. So while America saw this as a war, to the British it was considered more of a skirmish. Nevertheless, the British put up a fight. They invaded Maryland in 1814 and headed for Washington D.C. When they got there, they burned down the White House, the Capitol building and many other official structures. It was during this raid that President Madison’s wife left her own belongings behind and instead took a portrait of George Washington with her as she fled the White House. It was returned after the war and still hangs in theWhite House today. The War of 1812 officially ended on Dec. 24, 1814, when both sides signed and ratified the Treaty of Ghent, in which Britain agreed to return occupied land, prisoners of war and ships they’d captured. The two countries resumed trade after that, too. The treaty was signed in Belgium, and the only way to get the news to the battlefield was in person. So it took some time. While dignitaries were on their way to America with the news, Andrew Jackson and his soldiers had a raging battle with the British in Louisiana at the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson’s soldiers won the that fight. It was the last large battle before news of the treaty made it to the U.S.