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In his biography of the 4th president of the United States, Kevin Gutzman stresses James Madison, Jr.'s birth and emergence amid privilege and slavery. Born into a family at the highest tier of planter-dominated Piedmont Virginia society, Madison received the best education possible given the era and location. First, he attended the exclusive school operated by Donald Robertson for the sons of the planter elite, next, for two years he was tutored by an Episcopal priest who was hired by his father to be a live-in teacher for young James. All during his childhood, the sickly youth read widely on his own, mastering Greek and Latin. By 18 he entered the College of New Jersey, Princeton University of today. It is believed that he attended Princeton to avoid the relatively unhealthy environment of Williamsburg where the College of William and Mary was generally the site of higher education for the Virginia planter elite. Madison's health, always a major concern with him, was even more delicate during his adolescent years than later when he was known to be unhealthy. As anti-colonial activity increased in the colony, Madison took a more active interest in politics finding the armed rebuttal of Patrick Henry to Lord Dunmore's seizure of colonial gunpowder to be inspirational.
As fighting increased between the British and Americans Madison was beset by physical woes. He recalled later in life that during this period he was often sick and had experienced "sudden attacks, somewhat resembling Epilepsy" disrupting his "intellectual functions." (8) Despite this he held the lofty status of the second-in-command as a colonel in the Virginia militia. Continued