Before he was President: James Madison

James Madison, 1809-1817 politician
James Madison flirted with the idea of becoming a preacher early on in his life. Introverted, frail, and sickly, Madison opted to invest his time in attending and participating in political events. It was his regular participation in these events, combined with his writing ability that led to him being offered lower level political positions. Of course, he was able to leverage those humble political beginnings into much greater levels of influence.

James Monroe, 1817-1825 soldier, lawyer
At the age of 18 James Monroe was a lieutenant in the army serving under General George Washington. At the end of his 6 years of military service, Monroe received a letter of recommendation from his boss General Washington. It read, "I take occasion to express to you the high opinion I have of his worth. He has, in every instance, maintained a reputation of a brave, active, and sensible officer. It were to be wished that the State (Virginia) could do something for him, to enable him to follow the bent of his military inclination, and render service to his country." After leaving the Army in 1782, Monroe moved back to Virginia where he studied law with Thomas Jefferson. Source

John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829 lawyer
On June 17, 1775, Abigail Adams took her 7 year old son John Quincy Adams to the top of a hill to watch the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was going on not far from their Massachusetts home. From the time he was 14 until he was 16 he served as a translator for a member of his father's staff who was serving as an ambassador to Russia, ruled by Catherine the Great. John Quincy was chosen to go since he spoke French, the official language of Catherine's court. When he was 18 years old John Quincy Adams was attending college at Harvard. Harvard would require students who broke the rules or caused trouble to pay a fine. John Quincy stayed out of trouble most of the time, however he was once fined one penny for oversleeping and being late for his morning prayers! John Quincy Adams By Martha S. Hewson

More stories: Duncan Hines   George Washington   Thomas Jefferson   Benjamin Franklin   James Garfield   Harry Truman   Henry Ford

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