James Monroe

James Monroe

Overview
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1817–1825). Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty
Virginia Dynasty
The Virginia dynasty is a term sometimes used to describe the fact that four of the first five Presidents of the United States were from Virginia. The term sometimes excludes George Washington, who, though a Virginia planter, was closely aligned with the policies of the Federalist Party, and was...

 and the Republican Generation. His presidency was marked both by an "Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
The Era of Good Feelings was a period in United States political history in which partisan bitterness abated. It lasted approximately from 1815 to 1825, during the administration of U.S...

" – a period of relatively little partisan strife – and later by the Panic of 1819
Panic of 1819
The Panic of 1819 was the first major financial crisis in the United States, and had occurred during the political calm of the Era of Good Feelings. The new nation previously had faced a depression following the war of independence in the late 1780s and led directly to the establishment of the...

 and a fierce national debate over the admission of the Missouri Territory
Missouri Territory
The Territory of Missouri was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 4, 1812 until August 10, 1821, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Missouri.-History:...

.
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Quotations

The mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of which our nature is capable.

Message to Congress (December 1822)

The American continents ... are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.

Encyclopedia
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1817–1825). Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty
Virginia Dynasty
The Virginia dynasty is a term sometimes used to describe the fact that four of the first five Presidents of the United States were from Virginia. The term sometimes excludes George Washington, who, though a Virginia planter, was closely aligned with the policies of the Federalist Party, and was...

 and the Republican Generation. His presidency was marked both by an "Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
The Era of Good Feelings was a period in United States political history in which partisan bitterness abated. It lasted approximately from 1815 to 1825, during the administration of U.S...

" – a period of relatively little partisan strife – and later by the Panic of 1819
Panic of 1819
The Panic of 1819 was the first major financial crisis in the United States, and had occurred during the political calm of the Era of Good Feelings. The new nation previously had faced a depression following the war of independence in the late 1780s and led directly to the establishment of the...

 and a fierce national debate over the admission of the Missouri Territory
Missouri Territory
The Territory of Missouri was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 4, 1812 until August 10, 1821, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Missouri.-History:...

. Monroe is most noted for his proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 in 1823, which stated that the United States would not tolerate further European intervention in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

.

Born in Westmoreland County
Westmoreland County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,718 people, 6,846 households, and 4,689 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 9,286 housing units at an average density of...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Monroe fought in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. He was injured in the Battle of Trenton with a musket ball to his shoulder. After studying law under Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 from 1780 to 1783, he served as a delegate  in the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

. As an anti-federalist
Anti-Federalism
Anti-Federalism refers to a movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the Constitution of 1787. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation, gave state governments more authority...

 delegate to the Virginia convention that considered ratification of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, Monroe opposed ratification
Ratification
Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent where the agent lacked authority to legally bind the principal. The term applies to private contract law, international treaties, and constitutionals in federations such as the United States and Canada.- Private law :In contract law, the...

, claiming it gave too much power to the central government. Nonetheless, Monroe took an active part in the new government and in 1790 he was elected to the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 of the first United States Congress
1st United States Congress
-House of Representatives:During this congress, five House seats were added for North Carolina and one House seat was added for Rhode Island when they ratified the Constitution.-Senate:* President: John Adams * President pro tempore: John Langdon...

, where he joined the Jeffersonians. He gained experience as an executive as the Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 and rose to national prominence when as a diplomat in France he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 in 1803. Monroe was of French and Scottish descent.

During the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, Monroe held the critical roles of Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 and the Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 under President James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

. Facing little opposition from the fractured Federalist Party, Monroe was easily elected
United States presidential election, 1816
The United States presidential election of 1816 came at the end of the two-term presidency of Democratic-Republican James Madison. With the Federalist Party in collapse, Madison's Secretary of State, James Monroe, had an advantage in winning the presidency against very weak opposition...

 president in 1816, winning over 80 percent of the electoral vote and becoming the last president during the First Party System
First Party System
The First Party System is a model of American politics used by political scientists and historians to periodize the political party system existing in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states:...

 era of American politics. As president, he sought to ease partisan tensions and embarked on a tour of the country and was well received everywhere. As nationalism surged, partisan fury subsided and the "Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
The Era of Good Feelings was a period in United States political history in which partisan bitterness abated. It lasted approximately from 1815 to 1825, during the administration of U.S...

" ensued until the Panic of 1819
Panic of 1819
The Panic of 1819 was the first major financial crisis in the United States, and had occurred during the political calm of the Era of Good Feelings. The new nation previously had faced a depression following the war of independence in the late 1780s and led directly to the establishment of the...

 struck and dispute over the admission of Missouri
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 embroiled the country in 1820. Nonetheless, Monroe won near-unanimous reelection
United States presidential election, 1820
The United States presidential election of 1820 was the third and last presidential election in United States history in which a candidate ran effectively unopposed. In 1820, President James Monroe and Vice President Daniel D...

. In 1823, he announced the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

, which became a landmark in American foreign policy. His presidency concluded the first period of American presidential history before the beginning of Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy is the political movement toward greater democracy for the common man typified by American politician Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. The Democratic-Republican Party of...

 and the Second Party System
Second Party System
The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

 era. Following his retirement in 1825, Monroe was plagued by financial difficulties. He died in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 on July 4, 1831.

Biography


James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758, in a wooded area of Westmoreland County, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. The site is marked and is one mile from what is known today as Monroe Hall, Virginia
Monroe Hall, Virginia
Monroe Hall is an unincorporated community in Westmoreland County, in the U. S. state of Virginia. The site of James Monroe's birthplace is located in the community, and is marked with an obelisk, an historical marker, and a bronze plaque.-References:*...

.

Monroe's father, Spence Monroe (1727–1774) was a moderately prosperous planter who also learned the carpentry trade. His mother, Elizabeth Jones Monroe (1730–1774), married Spence Monroe in 1752. His paternal great-grandfather immigrated to America from Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 in the mid-17th century. In 1650 Andrew Monroe patented a large tract of land in Washington Parish, Westmoreland County
Westmoreland County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,718 people, 6,846 households, and 4,689 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 9,286 housing units at an average density of...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

.

Education and military service


Monroe studied at Campbelltown Academy, a school run by the Reverend Archibald Campbell of Washington Parish, between the ages of 11 and 16. There he excelled as a prodigious pupil and progressed through Latin and mathematics at a rate faster than that of most boys his age. John Marshall
John Marshall
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the United States whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches...

, later Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

, was among his classmates. At the age of 16, Monroe, the eldest son, inherited all his father's fortune and he became financially responsible for his establishing his siblings.

Monroe began forming a close relationship with his uncle, the influential Judge Joseph Jones, who had been educated at the Inns of Court in London. In 1774 Monroe enrolled in the College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

, but saw the atmosphere on the campus was not conducive to study, and the prospect of rebellion against King George
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 charged most of the students, including Monroe, with patriotic fervor. In June 1775, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Monroe joined 24 older men in raiding the arsenal at the Governor's Palace. The 200 muskets and 300 swords they appropriated helped arm the Williamsburg militia. The following spring, Monroe dropped out of college and joined the 3rd Virginia Regiment in the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

.

Between 1780 and 1783, he studied law under Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

. Monroe was not particularly interested in legal theory or practice, but chose to take it up because he felt that it offered "the most immediate rewards" and that it would place him on a path to wealth, social standing, and political influence.

Although Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 served as a courier in a militia unit at age thirteen, Monroe is regarded as the last U.S. President who was a Revolutionary War hero, since he served as an officer of the Continental Army and personally took part in the combats. He served with distinction at the Battle of Trenton
Battle of Trenton
The Battle of Trenton took place on December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, after General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton, New Jersey. The hazardous crossing in adverse weather made it possible for Washington to lead the main body of the...

, where he was shot in his left shoulder. He spent three months recuperating from his wound. In John Trumbull
John Trumbull
John Trumbull was an American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings...

's painting Capture of the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton, Monroe can be seen lying wounded at left center of painting. In an even more famous painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware is an 1851 oil-on-canvas painting by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. It commemorates General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War...

, Monroe is depicted holding the flag. Following his war service, he practiced law in Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia located south of Washington, D.C., and north of Richmond. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,286...

.

Marriage and children


James Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright (1768–1830), daughter of Laurence Kortright and Hannah Aspinwall Kortright, on February 16, 1786, in New York City. After a brief honeymoon on Long Island, the Monroes returned to New York to live with her father until Congress adjourned. The Monroes had the following children:
  • Eliza Monroe Hay (1786–1835) – married George Hay
    George Hay (Virginia)
    George Hay was a United States federal judge.Born in Williamsburg, Virginia, Hay read law to enter the bar, and was in private practice in Petersburg, Virginia from 1787 to 1801, then in Richmond, Virginia until 1803. He was a U.S. Attorney for the District of Virginia from 1803 to 1816...

     in 1808 and substituted as official White House host for her ailing mother.
  • James Spence Monroe (1799–1801)
  • Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur (1803–1850) – married her cousin Samuel L. Gouverneur
    Samuel L. Gouverneur
    Samuel Laurence Gouverneur was a lawyer and civil servant who was both nephew and son-in-law to the fifth President of the United States.-Life:...

     on March 8, 1820, in the first wedding of a president's child in the White House.


Monroe fulfilled his youthful dream of becoming the owner of a large plantation and wielding great political power, but his efforts in agriculture were never profitable. He sold his small inherited Virginia plantation in 1783 to enter law and politics, and though he owned land and slaves and speculated in property he was rarely on-site to oversee the operation. Therefore the slaves were treated harshly to make them more productive and the plantations barely supported themselves if at all. His lavish lifestyle often necessitated selling property to pay debts.

Virginia politics


Monroe was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

 in 1782. After serving for the Continental legislature he was elected to the Fourth Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 in November of 1783. He was also elected to and served in the Fifth and Sixth Congresses, serving for a total of three years where he finally retired from that office by the rule of rotation.

In Virginia the struggle in 1788 over the ratification of the proposed new Constitution involved far more than a simple clash between federalists and anti-federalists. Virginians held a full spectrum of opinions about the merits of the proposed change in national government. George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 were leading supporters; Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

 and George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 were leading opponents. The central actors in the ratification fight were those who held the middle ground in the ideological struggle. Led by Monroe and Edmund Pendleton
Edmund Pendleton
Edmund Pendleton was a Virginia politician, lawyer and judge, active in the American Revolutionary War. -Early years:...

, these "federalists who are for amendments," criticized the absence of a bill of rights and worried about surrendering taxation powers to the central government. Virginia ratified the Constitution in June 1788, largely because these men suspended their reservations and vowed to press for changes after the new government had been established.

Virginia narrowly ratified the Constitution and Monroe ran for a House seat in the 1st Congress but was defeated by Madison. In 1790 he was elected United States Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. He soon joined the "Democratic-Republican" faction led by Jefferson and Madison and by 1791 was the party leader in the Senate.

Ambassador to France


Monroe resigned his Senate seat after being appointed Minister to France in 1794. As ambassador, Monroe secured the release of Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

 when he was arrested for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI on the condition that he be sent to America.

He managed to free all the Americans held in French prisons, including Madame Lafayette
Adrienne de La Fayette
Marie Adrienne Françoise de Noailles, marquise de La Fayette , the daughter of Jean de Noailles, and Henriette Anne Louise d'Aguesseau, married Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette....

. He issued American passports for the Lafayette family, (since they had been granted citizenship
Honorary Citizen of the United States
A person of exceptional merit, generally a non-United States citizen, may be declared an Honorary Citizen of the United States by an Act of Congress, or by a proclamation issued by the President of the United States, pursuant to authorization granted by Congress.Seven people have been so honored,...

), before she traveled to Lafayette's place of imprisonment, in Olmutz.

A strong friend of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, Monroe tried to assure France that Washington's
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 policy of strict neutrality did not favor Britain. But American policy had come to favor Britain, and Monroe was stunned by the signing of the Jay Treaty
Jay Treaty
Jay's Treaty, , also known as Jay's Treaty, The British Treaty, and the Treaty of London of 1794, was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain that is credited with averting war,, resolving issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the American Revolution,, and...

 in London. With France and Britain at war, the Jay Treaty alarmed and angered the French. Washington discharged Monroe from his office as Minister to France due to inefficiency, disruptive maneuvers, and failure to safeguard the interests of his country.

Monroe had long been concerned about untoward foreign influence on the presidency. He was alarmed at Spanish diplomat Don Diego de Gardoqui
Don Diego de Gardoqui
Don Diego María de Gardoqui y Arriquibar Gardoqui-Gardoki Translation: Basque - Fernery was a Spanish-born politician and diplomat.-Biography:Diego de Gardoqui, the fourth of eight children, was the financial intermediary between the...

 who in 1785 tried to convince Congress to allow Spain to close the Mississippi River to American traffic for 30 years. Here Monroe saw Spain over-influencing the republic, which could have risked the loss of the Southwest or dominance of the Northeast. Monroe placed faith in a strong presidency and the system of checks and balances. In the 1790s he fretted over an aging George Washington being too heavily influenced by close advisers like Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 who was too close to Britain. Monroe favored France and so opposed the Jay Treaty
Jay Treaty
Jay's Treaty, , also known as Jay's Treaty, The British Treaty, and the Treaty of London of 1794, was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain that is credited with averting war,, resolving issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the American Revolution,, and...

 in 1795. He was humiliated when Washington criticized him for his support of revolutionary France while he was minister to France. He saw foreign and Federalist elements in the genesis of the Quasi War of 1798–1800 and in efforts to keep Thomas Jefferson away from the presidency in 1801. As governor he considered using the Virginia militia to force the outcome in favor of Jefferson. Federalists responded in kind, some seeing Monroe as at best a French dupe and at worst a traitor.

Governor of Virginia and Diplomat


Out of office, Monroe returned to practicing law in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 until elected governor
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 there as a Republican, his first term serving from 1799 to 1802. He was reelected Virginia's governor four times. He called out the state militia to suppress Gabriel's Rebellion. Gabriel and 26 other enslaved people who participated were all hanged for treason.

President Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 sent Monroe to France to assist Robert R. Livingston to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

. Monroe was then appointed Minister to the Court of St. James (Britain) from 1803 to 1807. In 1806 he negotiated a treaty with Britain, known as the Monroe–Pinkney Treaty. It would extend the Jay Treaty
Jay Treaty
Jay's Treaty, , also known as Jay's Treaty, The British Treaty, and the Treaty of London of 1794, was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain that is credited with averting war,, resolving issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the American Revolution,, and...

 of 1794 which had expired after ten years; Jefferson had fought the Jay Treaty intensely in 1794–95 because he felt it would allow the British to subvert American republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

. The treaty had produced ten years of peace and highly lucrative trade for American merchants, but Jefferson was still hostile. When Monroe and the British signed a renewal in December 1806, Jefferson decided to reject it, and not submit it to the Senate. Although the new treaty called for ten more years of trade between the U.S. and the British Empire, and gave American merchants certain guarantees that would have been good for business, Jefferson refused to give up the potential weapon of commercial warfare against Britain and was unhappy that it did not end the hated British practice of impressment
Impressment
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 of American sailors. Jefferson did not attempt to obtain another treaty, and as a result, the two nations moved from peace toward the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

1808 election and the Quids


The Republican Party was increasingly factionalized with "Old Republicans" or "Quids" denouncing the Administration for abandoning true republican principles. The Quids, seeing that Monroe's foreign policy had been rejected by Jefferson, tried to enlist Monroe in their cause. The plan was to run Monroe for president in the 1808 election in cooperation with the Federalist Party, which had a strong base in New England. John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

 led the Quid effort to stop Jefferson's choice of James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

. However, the regular Republicans overcame the Quids, kept control of the party in Virginia, and protected Madison's base. Monroe did not run and Madison was elected president.

Secretary of State and Secretary of War


Monroe returned to the Virginia House of Delegates and was elected to another term as governor in 1811, but only served four months. He became Secretary of State in April of that year. He had little to do with the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, as President Madison and the War Hawks in Congress were dominant. The war went very badly, and when the British burned the capitol building on August 24, 1814, Madison removed John Armstrong as Secretary of War and turned to Monroe for help, appointing him Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 on September 27th. Monroe resigned as Secretary of State on October 1, but no successor was ever appointed, so he continued doing the work. Thus from October 1, 1814, to February 28, 1815, Monroe effectively held both cabinet posts. Monroe formulated plans for an offensive invasion of Canada to win the war, but a peace treaty was ratified in February 1815, before any armies moved north. Monroe therefore resigned as Secretary of War on March 15, 1815 and was formally reappointed Secretary of State. Monroe stayed on at State until March 4, 1817, when he began his term as the new President of the United States.

Presidential elections of 1816 and 1820


The congressional nominating caucus experienced little opposition during the administrations of Jefferson and Madison, but this situation changed in the election year of 1816. An indeterminate number of anti-Virginia Republicans, led by the New York delegation, objected to the caucus system along with the Federalists. Disorganization and failure to agree on William H. Crawford
William H. Crawford
William Harris Crawford was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1815 to 1816 and United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 to 1825, and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824.-Political...

, Daniel Tompkins, Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 or another possible contender weakened opposition to Monroe. The boycott by Virginia delegates of the March 12 caucus removed the chances of Monroe's opponents, and he received the caucus nomination four days later. With the Federalist Party in disarray due to the unpopularity of their opposition to the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, he was easily elected. The Federalists did not even name a candidate, though Rufus King
Rufus King
Rufus King was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

 of New York did run in opposition to Monroe under the Federalist banner. King carried only Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts and won only 34 of 217 electoral votes cast. (See United States presidential election, 1816
United States presidential election, 1816
The United States presidential election of 1816 came at the end of the two-term presidency of Democratic-Republican James Madison. With the Federalist Party in collapse, Madison's Secretary of State, James Monroe, had an advantage in winning the presidency against very weak opposition...

.)

The collapse of the Federalists left Monroe with no organized opposition at the end of his first term, and he ran for reelection unopposed, the only president other than Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 to do so. A single elector from New Hampshire cast a vote for John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, preventing a unanimous vote in the electoral college
Electoral college
An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office. Often these represent different organizations or entities, with each organization or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way...

. (See United States presidential election, 1820
United States presidential election, 1820
The United States presidential election of 1820 was the third and last presidential election in United States history in which a candidate ran effectively unopposed. In 1820, President James Monroe and Vice President Daniel D...

.)

Presidency



Republican party dominance


Monroe largely ignored old party lines in making appointments to lower posts, which reduced political tensions and enabled the "Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
The Era of Good Feelings was a period in United States political history in which partisan bitterness abated. It lasted approximately from 1815 to 1825, during the administration of U.S...

", which lasted through his administration. He made two long national tours in 1817 to build national trust. Frequent stops on these tours allowed innumerable ceremonies of welcome and expressions of good will. The Federalist Party continued to fade away during his administration; it maintained its vitality and organizational integrity in Delaware and a few localities, but was no longer a national factor. Lacking serious opposition, the Republican party's Congressional caucus stopped meeting, and for practical purposes the Republican Party stopped operating.

Domestic troubles


Monroe's popularity was undiminished even when following difficult nationalist policies as the country's commitment to nationalism was starting to show serious fractures. The Panic of 1819
Panic of 1819
The Panic of 1819 was the first major financial crisis in the United States, and had occurred during the political calm of the Era of Good Feelings. The new nation previously had faced a depression following the war of independence in the late 1780s and led directly to the establishment of the...

 caused a painful economic depression. The application for statehood in 1819 by the Missouri Territory
Missouri Territory
The Territory of Missouri was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 4, 1812 until August 10, 1821, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Missouri.-History:...

 as a slave state
Slave state
In the United States of America prior to the American Civil War, a slave state was a U.S. state in which slavery was legal, whereas a free state was one in which slavery was either prohibited from its entry into the Union or eliminated over time...

 failed. An amended bill for gradually eliminating slavery in Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 precipitated two years of bitter debate in Congress. The Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 bill resolved the struggle, pairing Missouri as a slave state with Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, a free state, and barring slavery north of latitude 36/30' N forever. The Missouri Compromise lasted until 1857, when it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the Dred Scott decision
Dred Scott v. Sandford
Dred Scott v. Sandford, , also known as the Dred Scott Decision, was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent brought into the United States and held as slaves were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S...

.

Cumberland Road


Congress demanded high subsidies for internal improvements, such as for the improvement of the Cumberland Road, during Monroe's presidency. Monroe vetoed the Cumberland Road Bill, which provided for yearly improvements to the road, because he believed it to be unconstitutional for the government to have such a large hand in what was essentially a civics bill deserving of attention on a state by state basis. This defiance underlined Monroe's populist ideals and added credit to the local offices that he was so fond of visiting on his speech tours.

Native American Policies



Monroe sparked a constitutional controversy when, in 1817, he sent General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 to move against Spanish Florida to pursue hostile Seminole Indians and punish the Spanish for aiding them. News of Jackson's exploits ignited a congressional investigation of the 1st Seminole War. Dominated by Democratic-Republicans, the 15th Congress was generally expansionist and more likely to support the popular Jackson. Ulterior political agendas of many congressmen dismantled partisan and sectional coalitions, so that Jackson's opponents argued weakly and became easily discredited. After much debate, the House of Representatives voted down all resolutions that condemned Jackson in any way, thus implicitly endorsing Monroe's actions and leaving the issue surrounding the role of the executive with respect to war powers unanswered.

Monroe believed that the Indians must progress from the hunting stage to become an agricultural people, noting in 1817, "A hunter or savage state requires a greater extent of territory to sustain it than is compatible with progress and just claims of civilised life." His proposals to speed up the assimilation process were ignored by Congress.

Spanish Florida


Relations with Spain over the purchase of Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

 proved to be troublesome, especially after General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 invaded that territory on what he believed to be the president's authorization, which Monroe later denied giving. But largely through the skillful work of John Quincy Adams, a treaty
Adams-Onís Treaty
The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Purchase of Florida, was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 that gave Florida to the U.S. and set out a boundary between the U.S. and New Spain . It settled a standing border dispute between the two...

 was signed with Spain in 1819 that ceded Florida to the United States in return for the assumption of $5,000,000 in claims and the relinquishment of any claims to Texas. Florida was ceded to the U.S. in 1821.

Monroe Doctrine



After the Napoleonic wars (which ended in 1815), almost all of Spain's and Portugal's colonies in Latin America revolted and declared independence. Americans welcomed this development as a validation of the spirit of Republicanism
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

 suggested delaying formal recognition until Florida was secured. The problem of imperial invasion was intensified by a Russian claim to the Pacific coast down to the fifty-first parallel and simultaneous European pressure to have all of Latin America returned to its colonial status.

Monroe informed Congress in March 1822, that permanent stable governments had been established in the United Provinces of La Plata (present-day Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

), Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Adams, under Monroe's supervision, wrote the instructions for the ministers (ambassadors) to these new countries. They declared that the policy of the United States was to uphold republican institutions and to seek treaties of commerce on a most-favored-nation basis. The United States would support inter-American congresses dedicated to the development of economic and political institutions fundamentally differing from those prevailing in Europe. The articulation of an "American system" distinct from that of Europe was a basic tenet of Monroe's policy toward Latin America. Monroe took pride as the United States was the first nation to extend recognition and to set an example to the rest of the world for its support of the "cause of liberty and humanity".

Monroe formally announced in his message to Congress on December 2, 1823, what was later called the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

. He proclaimed that the Americas should be free from future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries' affairs. It further stated the United States' intention to stay neutral in European wars and wars between European powers and their colonies, but to consider new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts toward the United States.

Although it is Monroe's most famous contribution to history, the speech was written by Adams, who designed the doctrine in cooperation with Britain. Monroe and Adams realized that American recognition would not protect the new countries against military intervention to restore Spain's power. In October 1823, Richard Rush
Richard Rush
Richard Rush was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the second son of Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and Julia Rush. He entered the College of New Jersey at the age of 14, and graduated in 1797 as the youngest member of his class...

, the American minister in London, advised that Foreign Secretary George Canning
George Canning
George Canning PC, FRS was a British statesman and politician who served as Foreign Secretary and briefly Prime Minister.-Early life: 1770–1793:...

 was proposing that the U.S. and Britain jointly declare their opposition to European intervention. Britain, with its powerful navy, also opposed re-conquest of Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and suggested that the United States join in proclaiming a "hands off" policy. Galvanized by the British initiative, Monroe consulted with American leaders and then formulated a plan with Adams. Ex-Presidents Jefferson and Madison counseled Monroe to accept the offer, but Adams advised, "It would be more candid ... to avow our principles explicitly to Russia and France, than to come in as a cock-boat in the wake of the British man-of-war." Monroe accepted Adams' advice. Not only must Latin America be left alone, he warned, but also Russia must not encroach southward on the Pacific coast. "...the American continents," he stated, "by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power."

The Monroe Doctrine at the time of its adoption thus pertained more to the Russians in North America than to the former Spanish colonies. The result was a system of American isolationism under the sponsorship of the British navy. The Monroe Doctrine held that the United States considered the Western Hemisphere as no longer a place for European colonization; that any future effort to gain further political control in the hemisphere or to violate the independence of existing states would be treated as an act of hostility; and finally that there existed two different and incompatible political systems in the world. The United States, therefore, promised to refrain from intervention in European affairs and demanded Europe to abstain from interfering with American matters. There were few serious European attempts at intervention.

Administration and Cabinet


Monroe made balanced Cabinet choices, naming a southerner, John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

, as Secretary of War, and a northerner, John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, as Secretary of State. Both proved outstanding, as Adams was a master diplomat and Calhoun completely reorganized the War Department to overcome the serious deficiencies that hobbled it during the war of 1812. Monroe decided on political grounds not to offer Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 the State Department, and Clay turned down the War Department and remained Speaker of the House, so Monroe lacked an outstanding westerner in his cabinet.

Judicial appointments



Monroe appointed one Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson was a United States Secretary of the Navy from 1818 to 1823, and a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice from 1823 until his death in 1843....

. He appointed 21 other federal judges, all to United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s, as no vacancies occurred on the one circuit court existing at the time.

States admitted to the Union

  • Mississippi
    Mississippi
    Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

    December 10, 1817
  • Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    December 3, 1818
  • Alabama
    Alabama
    Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

    December 14, 1819
  • Maine
    Maine
    Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

    March 15, 1820
  • Missouri
    Missouri
    Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

    August 10, 1821

Post-presidency


When his presidency ended on March 4, 1825, James Monroe resided at Monroe Hill
Brown College at Monroe Hill
Brown College at Monroe Hill is a residential college at the University of Virginia, United States.Originally named Monroe Hill College, Brown opened in 1986 as the first modern residential college at the University of Virginia. It was renamed Brown College at Monroe Hill in recognition of the...

 on the grounds of the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

. This university's modern campus was Monroe's family farm from 1788 to 1817, but he had sold it in the first year of his presidency to the new college. He served on the college's Board of Visitors under Jefferson and then under the second rector and another former President James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

, almost until his death.

Monroe had racked up many debts during his years of public life. As a result, he was forced to sell off his Highland Plantation (now called Ash Lawn-Highland
Ash Lawn-Highland
Ash Lawn–Highland, located near Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, and adjacent to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, was the estate of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States. Purchased in 1793, Monroe and his family permanently settled on the property in 1799 and lived at Ash Lawn–Highland...

; it is owned by his alma mater, the College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

, which has opened it to the public). Throughout his life, he was not financially solvent, and his wife's poor health made matters worse.

For these reasons, he and his wife lived in Oak Hill, Virginia, until Elizabeth's death on September 23, 1830. In August 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette and President John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, were guests of the Monroes there.

Death


Upon Elizabeth's death in 1830, Monroe moved to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 to live with his daughter Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur who had married Samuel L. Gouverneur
Samuel L. Gouverneur
Samuel Laurence Gouverneur was a lawyer and civil servant who was both nephew and son-in-law to the fifth President of the United States.-Life:...

 in the White House. John Quincy Adams visited him there in April 1831. Adams found him alert and eager to discuss the situation in Europe, but in ill health. Adams cut the visit short when he thought he was tiring Monroe.

Monroe died there from heart failure and tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third president in a row to die on Independence Day
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

, July 4. His death came 55 years after the U.S. Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and 5 years after the death of two other Founding Fathers who became Presidents: John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 and Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

. Monroe was originally buried in New York at the Gouverneur family's vault in the New York City Marble Cemetery
New York City Marble Cemetery
The New York City Marble Cemetery is an historic cemetery founded in 1831, and located at 52-74 East Second Street between First and Second Avenues in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City...

. Twenty-seven years later in 1858 the body was re-interred to the President's Circle at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. The James Monroe Tomb
James Monroe Tomb
The James Monroe Tomb is the burial place for U.S. President James Monroe in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia, United States. The site is "significant for the execution of its flamboyant and delicate tracery in cast iron, the tomb is a cage over the simple granite sarcophagus of the former...

 is a U.S. National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

.

Religious beliefs


"When it comes to Monroe's thoughts on religion," Bliss Isely notes, "less is known than that of any other President." No letters survive in which he discussed his religious beliefs. Nor did his friends, family or associates comment on his beliefs. Letters that do survive, such as ones written after the death of his son, contain no discussion of religion.

Monroe was raised in a family that belonged to the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 when it was the state church in Virginia before the Revolution. As an adult frequently attended Episcopalian churches, though there is no record he ever took communion. He has been classified by some historians as a Deist
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

 because he used deistic language to refer to an impersonal God. Unlike Jefferson, Monroe was rarely attacked as an atheist and infidel for his deistic views. An exception came in 1832 when James Renwick Willson, a Reformed Presbyterian
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America , a Christian church, is a small Presbyterian denomination with churches throughout the United States, in southeastern Canada, and in a small part of Japan. Its beliefs place it in the conservative wing of the Reformed family of Protestant churches...

 minister in Albany, New York, criticized Monroe for having "lived and died like a second-rate Athenian philosopher."

As Secretary of State, Monroe dismissed Mordecai Manuel Noah
Mordecai Manuel Noah
Mordecai Manuel Noah was an American playwright, diplomat, journalist, and utopian...

 from his post as consul to Tunis in 1815, for the apparent reason that he was Jewish. Noah protested and gained letters from Adams, Jefferson, and Madison supporting church-state separation and tolerance for Jews.

Slavery


On October 15, 1799, some slave traders attempted to transport a group of slaves from Southampton to Georgia when the slaves revolted and killed the slave traders. According to Scheer's article on the subject, the slave patrol responded and killed ten slaves on the spot in extra judicial killings without the benefit of trial. The five men taken alive were tried in an oyer and terminer court without the benefit of a jury, and four were convicted (the fifth pleaded benefit of clergy
Benefit of clergy
In English law, the benefit of clergy was originally a provision by which clergymen could claim that they were outside the jurisdiction of the secular courts and be tried instead in an ecclesiastical court under canon law...

 and was flogged and branded). Governor Monroe postponed their executions to check their identities, granting a pardon to one, and allowing two to hang, while the other died in jail from exposure to the cold. Scheer's argument is that Monroe "help[ed] secure a modicum of civil protection for slaves sentenced to death for capital crimes."

When Monroe was Governor of Virginia in 1800, hundreds of slaves from Virginia intended to kidnap Governor Monroe, take Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

, and negotiate for their freedom. Due to a storm on August 30, they were unable to attack. This is known as Gabriel's slave conspiracy
Gabriel Prosser
Gabriel , today commonly – if incorrectly – known as Gabriel Prosser, was a literate enslaved blacksmith who planned to lead a large slave rebellion in the Richmond area in the summer of 1800. However, information regarding the revolt was leaked prior to its execution, thus Gabriel's plans were...



Monroe called out the militia, and slave patrols captured some slaves. Sidbury says some trials had a few measures to prevent abuses like an appointed attorney, but were "hardly 'fair'". Slave codes prevented slaves from being treated like whites, and had quick trials without a jury. Monroe influenced the Executive Council to pardon and sell some slaves instead of hanging them. Nonetheless, historians say the Virginia courts executed between 26 and 35 slaves.

Monroe owned dozens of slaves, and according to William Seale, took some of his slaves to serve him when he resided at the White House from 1817 to 1825; this was not unique, as other slave owning presidents also had the custom of bringing their slaves to work for them since there was no domestic staff provided for the presidents at that time.

As president of Virginia's constitutional convention in the fall of 1829, Monroe reiterated his belief that slavery was a blight which, even as a British colony, Virginia had attempted to eradicate. "What was the origin of our slave population?" he rhetorically asked. "The evil commenced when we were in our Colonial state, but acts were passed by our Colonial Legislature, prohibiting the importation, of more slaves, into the Colony. These were rejected by the Crown." To the extreme chagrin of states' rights proponents, he was even willing to accept the federal government's financial assistance in emancipating and deporting the slaves. At the convention, Monroe made his final public statement on slavery, proposing that Virginia emancipate
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

 and deport its bondsmen with "the aid of the Union."

Monroe was part of the African Colonization Society formed in 1816, which included members like Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. These men were not abolitionists, but they did find common ground with some abolitionists who supported colonization, and together they helped send several thousand freed slaves to Africa from 1820 to 1840. The concern slave owners like Monroe and Jackson had was to prevent free blacks from influencing slaves to rebel in southern states. With about $100,000 in Federal grant money, the organization also bought land for those people in what is today Liberia. The capital of Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 was named Monrovia
Monrovia
Monrovia is the capital city of the West African nation of Liberia. Located on the Atlantic Coast at Cape Mesurado, it lies geographically within Montserrado County, but is administered separately...

 after him.

Famous quotations



During his years of service in the U.S. Government James Monroe was noted for a number of famous quotes. Some of the more notable ones are listed below:
  • "It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin."

  • "Peace and good will have been, and will hereafter be, cultivated with all, and by the most faithful regard to justice. They have been dictated by a love of peace, of economy, and an earnest desire to save the lives of our fellow-citizens from that destruction and our country from that devastation which are inseparable from war when it finds us unprepared for it."

  • "The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil."

  • "Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy."

  • "Such, then, being the highly favored condition of our country, it is in the interest of every citizen to maintain it. What are the dangers which menace us? If any exist, they ought to be ascertained and guarded against."

  • "The earth was given to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is capable, and no tribe or people have a right to withhold from the wants of others more than is necessary for their own support and comfort."

  • "We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. A people who fail to do it can scarcely be said to hold a place among independent nations. National honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished."

Legacy

  • Since its 1824 renaming in his honor, the capital city of the West African country of Liberia
    Liberia
    Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

     has been named Monrovia
    Monrovia
    Monrovia is the capital city of the West African nation of Liberia. Located on the Atlantic Coast at Cape Mesurado, it lies geographically within Montserrado County, but is administered separately...

    . It is the only non-American capital city named after a U.S. President.
  • On December 12, 1954, the United States Postal Service
    United States Postal Service
    The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

     released a 5¢ Liberty Issue
    Liberty Issue
    The Liberty issue was a definitive series of postage stamps issued by the United States between 1954 and 1965. It offered twenty-four denominations, ranging from a half-cent issue showing Benjamin Franklin to a five dollar issue depicting Alexander Hamilton...

     postage stamp
    Postage stamp
    A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

     honoring Monroe.
  • The James Monroe Building
    James Monroe Building
    The James Monroe Building is a skyscraper located in Richmond, Virginia. It is the tallest building in Richmond at 137 meters and 29 floors. Only 25 of the floors, however, are actually occupyable as the top and middle two are maintenance floors. The building has a parking garage at its base and...

     in Richmond, Virginia
    Richmond, Virginia
    Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

    , was named after him.
  • Monroe Hall, a freshman dormitory at the College of William and Mary
    College of William and Mary
    The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

     is named after him
  • Monroe Hall, a freshman dormitory in Presidents Park at George Mason University
    George Mason University
    George Mason University is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax. Additional campuses are located nearby in Arlington County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County...

     is named after him
  • The City of Monroe, Michigan
    Monroe, Michigan
    Monroe is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 20,733 at the 2010 census. It is the largest city and county seat of Monroe County. The city is bordered on the south by Monroe Charter Township, but both are politically independent. The city is located approximately 14 miles ...

     is also named for him.
  • James Monroe High School in Los Angeles, California
    Los Angeles, California
    Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

     is named after him.
  • Monroe County, PA, created in 1836, is named for him.

Trivia

  • Monroe was the last U.S. President to wear a powdered wig tied in a queue
    Wig
    A wig is a head of hair made from horsehair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or synthetic materials which is worn on the head for fashion or various other aesthetic and stylistic reasons, including cultural and religious observance. The word wig is short for periwig and first...

    , a tricorne
    Tricorne
    The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800. At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne was worn as civilian dress and as part of military and naval uniforms...

      and knee breeches
    Culottes
    Culottes is a word that originated in French. Historically, "culottes" referred to the knee-breeches commonly worn by gentlemen of the European upper-classes from the late Middle Ages or Renaissance through the early nineteenth century. This style of tight pants ending just below the knee was first...

     according to the old fashioned style of the eighteenth century.
  • Monroe served two full terms, succeeding James Madison
    James Madison
    James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

     who served two full terms, who succeeded Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

     who served two full terms. He would be the last two-term President to succeed another two-term President until George W. Bush
    George W. Bush
    George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

     succeeded Bill Clinton
    Bill Clinton
    William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

     nearly 200 years later. Moreover, Bush and Clinton belonged to rival political parties, whereas Jefferson, Madison and Monroe were in the same party, and Madison and Monroe had each served in their predecessors' cabinets, making Monroe the last two-term president to succeed a member of the same party.
  • Monroe was the last president who had never been photographed and whose portraits are preserved today only on paintings.

See also


  • Adams-Onís Treaty
    Adams-Onís Treaty
    The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Purchase of Florida, was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 that gave Florida to the U.S. and set out a boundary between the U.S. and New Spain . It settled a standing border dispute between the two...

  • List of United States political appointments that crossed party lines
  • Monrovia
    Monrovia
    Monrovia is the capital city of the West African nation of Liberia. Located on the Atlantic Coast at Cape Mesurado, it lies geographically within Montserrado County, but is administered separately...

  • List of Presidents of the United States
  • US Presidents on US postage stamps

External links


  • James Monroe: A Resource Guide at the Library of Congress
    Library of Congress
    The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

  • James Monroe at the White House
    White House
    The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

  • American President: James Monroe (1758–1831) at the Miller Center of Public Affairs
    Miller Center of Public Affairs
    The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a non-partisan research institute that is part of the University of Virginia.Founded in 1975, the Miller Center is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and...

    , University of Virginia
  • James Monroe Papers at the University of Mary Washington
    University of Mary Washington
    The University of Mary Washington is a public, coeducational liberal arts college located in the city of Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA. Founded in 1908 by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a normal school, during much of the twentieth century it was part of the University of Virginia, until...

  • A Guide to the Papers of James Monroe 1778-1831 at the University of Virginia Library
  • Monroe Doctrine; December 2, 1823 at the Avalon Project
    Avalon Project
    The Avalon Project is a digital library of documents relating to law, history and diplomacy. The project is part of the Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Law Library....

  • Elections for candidate Monroe, James from "A New Nation Votes" at Tufts University
    Tufts University
    Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

  • Ash Lawn-Highland, home of President James Monroe
  • The James Monroe Memorial Foundation
  • James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
  • James Monroe at American Presidents: Life Portraits, C-SPAN
    C-SPAN
    C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

  • The Health and Medical History of President James Monroe at DoctorZebra


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